Storm falls short in loss to Royals


READING, Pa. - Toledo entered the game needing a point to reach the Kelly Cup playoffs. Things didn't change when the final horn sounded.

But Toledo coach Nick Vitucci made one point perfectly clear after the Storm's 2-1 ECHL loss to the Reading Royals last night at the Sovereign Center: His team's play certainly was playoff worthy.

"I thought we played pretty hard for the most part," Vitucci said. "That's a good team we played over there. They are stingy

defensively and you don t get a lot of opportunities.

I thought we played very well. A bounce here or there and things certainly could have been different.

With the win, the Royals clinched fi rst place in the North

Divison. The Storm can clinch a spot with a point tonight against


Toledo got on the board fi rst when Rick Judson wristed home

a one-timer off a pass from Rick Jackson with 7:26 left in the fi rst


The Royals tied it courtesy of a Toledo turnover less than

four minutes later. Reading dumped the puck into the offensive

zone and it was misplayed off the boards by Storm defenseman Paul Ballantyne.

Reading s Mike Sandbeck collected the loose puck and

sneaked a shot through Scott Fankhouser s pads to make it 1-

with 3:50 left in the period.

Reading appeared to take the lead early in the second period,

but had a power-play goal waved off due to a hand pass.

The Royals made it 2-1 with 11:48 left in the second when they

broke in on an odd-man rush and Graig Mischler buried a shot

off a pass from defenseman Troy Milam.

A combination of good defense and bad ice limited Toledo s chances the rest of the way.

You have to eliminate neutral zone turnovers and they do good job of clogging up the neutral zone, Vitucci said.

We try to stress to our guys to get pucks deep and get on them

with the forecheck. Sometimes we try to get too cute in the neutral