Game 52 Preview: Wheeling at Reading

Battle of the Badges, Jerry Lawler, PAW Patrol, $1 Hot Dogs, Postgame Skate, Faith and Family — something for everyone at Santander Arena

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (28-20-3-0, 59 pts., 4th North) have something for everyone Sunday at Santander Arena vs. the Wheeling Nailers (28-21-4-0, 60 pts., 2nd North). Before the Royals drop the puck with the Nailers, the Reading Police and Fire Departments match up against the Allentown Police and Fire at 12:30 p.m. in the Battle for the FirstStates Cup XIII at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available here to help raise money for the children of policemen and firefighters.

It’s also PAW Patrol night! The Royals will wear special PAW Patrol jerseys from the popular Nickelodeon show.

Meet WWE Hall-of-Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler on Pro Wrestling Night
(Tower Health). Plus, it’s Faith and Family Night and dollar dog day, presented by Safe Berks, Berks Packing and Coca-Cola. First 1,000 kids (14 & under) will receive a Slapshot T-shirt thanks to Bethany Children’s Home. Also check out a postgame skate presented by Body Zone.

The Royals are in game three of a four-game home stand. Despite suffering a 6-4 loss Saturday vs. Brampton, four Royals had multi-point games. Nolan Zajac had two goals, a career high. Reading completes the home stand on Thurs., Feb. 22 vs. Worcester at 7:00 p.m. with a special postgame photo and autograph session, presented by Rieck’s Printing.

Wheeling dropped, 4-3, Friday to Fort Wayne and allowed the go-ahead goal with 33 seconds left to Marc-Olivier Roy.

Battle of the Badges history
The BOB Game began in 2006 as a benefit game played in remembrance of fallen Reading Police Officer Michael H. Wise II, who died in the line of duty in June of 2004, and Reading Police Officer Scott A. Wertz who was fatally wounded in the line of duty in August of 2006.  The game also raises funds for the police and fire departments scholarship funds.

Last season, a high-scoring affair went Reading’s way, 7-6, against Allentown in the first-ever meeting between the respective towns’ fire and police departments.

In the historical matchup between the Reading Fire Department and Reading Police Department, Fire won the series 6-4-1.

The season series: Royals lead, 5-2-1-0
Sunday is the final time the Royals host the Nailers this season and Reading is 3-2-0-0 at Santander Arena against the Nailers. The last two matchups of the series are in West Virginia.

Five games have been decided by a goal and Reading is 4-0-1-0 in the one-goal decisions. Last time out, Michael Huntebrinker slammed home an overtime-winning goal Jan. 26 at Wheeling. The rookie has three goals and four points against the Nailers.

The Royals have scored the first goal in six of the eight meetings and are 5-0-1-0 when striking first.

Matt Willows is best on Reading with four goals and eight points against Wheeling.

Adam Schmidt is second among active Royals with five points against the Nailers (2g, 3a). Cody Wydo has beaten Reading netminders four times this season (6 pts.).

Dekanich is 2-1-1-0 vs. Wheeling and has allowed nine goals in four games. In eight career games against the Nailers, Dekanich is 4-3-1-0. Branden Komm is 1-0-0-0 in two games (3 GA) opposing the Nailers this season, making 38 saves on 40 shots in a victory Jan. 19 for Manchester. For his career, he is 1-2-0-0 in four games vs. Wheeling.

Will King is 2-0-0-0 against Reading, allowing six goals. Adam Morrison has yet to beat the Royals in four chances (0-3-1-0, 12 GA). Morrison played 18 regular season games for the Royals in 2015-16, attaining a 7-4-3-3 record, three shutouts, 2.29 goals against average and .926 save percentage. Over parts of six ECHL seasons, he has faced the Royals five times and never defeated Reading (0-3-1-1 record).

Scouting Wheeling
The Nailers concluded three straight games at Orlando Feb. 12 before venturing back home for a 4-3 loss Friday to Fort Wayne. The Nailers play 36 games – or half their schedule – against the North Division. That’s the fewest number of in-division games of any team in the North. By contrast, Reading and Worcester each face the North Division a group-high 57 times, leaving just 15 games outside the division.

Against the North, the Nailers are 12-8-2-0, while Reading is 22-17-2-0.

Leading scorer Cody Wydo (50 pts.) was recalled to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) on Thursday. Reid Gardiner leads the team with 26 goals, but was recalled to the AHL last week. Cam Brown has 44 points but was loaned to Springfield in the AHL Wednesday.

Adam Morrison (24 GP, 12-10-1-0, 3.08 GAA, .907 sv.%) has played in seven of eight games to take a lead on Will King (15 GP, 6-6-1-0, 3.28 GAA, .899 sv.%) for the primary starting role.

Defending home vs. the Nailers
Reading is 5-2-1-0 overall against Wheeling this season and leads the series 3-2 while at home. The Royals have defended home with a winning record at Santander Arena against the Nailers in 10 of 11 seasons. Reading went 5-1 at Santander Arena while hosting Wheeling, marking their best home ice season record against the club. In the past eleven seasons, the Royals are 36-17-2-1 with the home-ice advantage vs. Wheeling.

Olympic Night, postgame photo giveaway and autograph session Thurs., Feb 22 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.
Celebrate Team USA and stay after the game for a special postgame photo and autograph session on Thurs., Feb. 22 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Worcester, presented by Rieck’s Printing.

Next Big Night: Yannick Tifu Number Retirment, Ted DiBiase “Million Dollar Man” appearance, St. HatTrick’s Day on Sat., Mar. 17 vs. BRM at 7:00 p.m.
Royals legend Yannick Tifu will have his #10 retired to the Diamond Credit Union Wall of Honor on Sat., Mar. 17 vs. the Brampton Beast at 7:00 p.m. Plus, meet WWE’s Million Dollar Man and celebrate St. HatTrick’s Day with the Royals, presented by Met-Ed! The first 5,000 fans will receive a Yannick Tifu poster, courtesy of Rieck’s Printing. The Royals will wear special St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. Tifu captained Reading to the team’s first Kelly Cup in 2013 and played in 245 Royals games, third-most in team history.

About the Royals
The Royals have been owned by serial entrepreneur Jack Gulati since 2014 and are in their 17th ECHL season. Proudly affiliated with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Reading plays in the Santander Arena, located in downtown Reading, PA at 700 Penn Street. The Royals won the Kelly Cup in 2013, have made the playoffs in eight straight seasons and are four-time division champions.

Reading Royals Mobile App
Head to the App Store and Google Play to download the new Reading Royals app on your smartphone! Stay up-to-date with team news, receive notifications and purchase tickets for your next experience at Santander Arena.

Broadcast Coverage
All Royals game can be heard on Rumba 1340 AM and the iHeartRadio app by searching “Rumba 1340”. The pregame show starts 15 minutes before puck drop. Watch Royals games on Reading away games are shown locally on BCTV.