On a night to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the hockey crowd at Cross Insurance Arena was treated to a robotic presentation between periods and a mechanical puck drop in a pregame ceremony.

As for the hockey itself, the Mariners laid an egg.

The visiting Reading Royals handed Maine its third shutout loss of the season, 5-0 before a crowd of 3,392 Friday night.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Mariners, who had won six of their previous seven games, all against either Worcester or Adirondack. Reading was coming off an 11-day idle period.

“I thought we had a pretty good run there, and then we go from one extreme to the other,” said Mariners Coach Riley Armstrong. “A lot of mistakes, but I think we can fix them. We’re still in a good spot. We can still put together a good month of December in the final couple games.”

Friday’s game turned quickly in a five-minute span of the second period, when Reading put six shots on net and three found their way past Mariners goalie Francois Brassard.

Brassard was making his third start of the season and had won his previous two, both against Adirondack earlier this month. Trevor Yates opened the scoring after getting behind a Maine defender and Thomas Ebbing quickly made it 2-0 as Reading kept up the attack.

The Mariners missed a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half with their most productive forwards of late. Terrence Wallin, riding a nine-game point streak, set up Alex Kile in the low slot with half the net open. Kile, with an eight-game point streak on the line, uncorked a quick shot and the puck wound up not in the net, but on the back of the net after it caromed off the rear boards.

“It was a weird play,” Kile said. “(The puck) was kind of in my feet and I just couldn’t get all of it. It hit the side of the netting, right next to the post.”

Wallin, flabbergasted, had half-raised his arms in celebration, so confident of an imminent red light.

Instead, play continued and the Royals quickly made it 3-0 on a goal by Jeremy Beaudry, who had been scoreless in his first 18 games of the season.

“It was definitely a turning point,” Kile said. “If that goes in, it could have been a different game. But we didn’t play good. It was a flat night.”

The Royals scored twice more in the third. Felix Sandstrom needed only 23 saves for the shutout. Brassard finished with 24.

Reading entered the game last in the ECHL in penalty killing percentage, but the Mariners went 0 for 4 Friday night and have converted only 6 of 57 such opportunities on home ice. Armstrong said the mistakes and missed chances provide opportunities to learn.

“It makes us hit the reset button,” he said. “We’re not as good of a team as maybe we thought we were. It brings us back down to earth.”

NOTES: Jake Elmer left the game late in the second period with an apparent left shoulder injury and did not return.


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