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Game 47 Preview: Reading at Norfolk

Friday, February 2nd
Game 47 Preview: Reading at Norfolk

Weekend war at the Chesapeake against Ads

Norfolk, VA – The Reading Royals (25-19-2-0, 52 pts., 4th North) and Norfolk Admirals (17-21-5-1, 40 pts., 6th South) meet for the first time this season and start a back-to-back set Friday at 7:00 p.m. from the Norfolk Scope.

This is Norfolk’s third campaign in the ECHL and the teams battled 11 times last season. Friday’s matchup is the first of four games this campaign against the cross-divisional Admirals.

Reading is three games through a six-game road trip with a 2-1-0-0 record. Tuesday, Matt Willows potted a goal and two points at Adirondack (3-2 L). The Royals left Glens Falls on Wednesday and traveled 550 miles south to Virginia. Reading has won three of four games.

Norfolk concluded a five-game road swing Wednesday with a 5-3 victory at South Carolina. The Admirals went 3-2-0-0 over the trip to move four points back of the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. Norfolk starts a season-long nine-game home stand Friday.

Royals Pregame coverage starts at 6:45 p.m. on RumbaReading.com, Rumba 1340 (iHeartRadio) and BCTV. Listen for a chance to win a gift card to Jimmy G’s Railroad House with the Trivia Question of the Night during 1st intermission.

Check out the Royals at Santander Arena Feb. 16-18 for three straight days of fun. The weekend includes Pink in the Rink, Paw Patrol, Jerry “The King” Lawler Wrestling Night, Faith and Family Night and the Battle of the Badges. Tickets are available at royalshockey.com/tickets or by calling 610-898-7825.

Willows sets personal highMatt Willows extended his point streak to a career-long seven straight games after netting a pair of points (1g, 1a) Tuesday at Adirondack. Over the seven games, Willows has a goal and 10 assists. He topped Reading with three goals and 14 points in January.

The stretch has included four multi-point games. The native of Congers, NY has recorded multiple points in 13 games this season, five more than any other teammate. Willows has the league’s longest current assist streak, jumping Adirondack’s Troy Bourke.

Somewhat uncannily, Willows’ has never had more than 11 points in seven games. He’s achieved the “11-in-7” four times. Last season, the third-year professional did it twice (Jan. 28 – Feb. 18, Feb. 28-Mar. 11). His rookie season, Willows managed the 11-in-7 once and registered a career-high 66 points en route to winning 2016 ECHL Rookie of the Year.

All-time series: Royals lead 14-4-2The Royals are 7-2-0-1 in Norfolk and went 4-2-0-0 at the Scope last season. Reading earned three straight victories and a pair of road wins to conclude the 2016-17 regular season under Kirk MacDonald. The Royals also have seven wins and two regulation losses against the Admirals at Santander Arena. The only home matchup against Norfolk this season is Apr. 7, the regular season finale.

In Norfolk’s first ECHL season (2015-16), Reading won the first six games of the series and pounded the Admirals in eight of nine games (8-0-0-1). The Royals earned points in their first 11 games vs. Norfolk (10-0-0-1).

After the early dominance, the Admirals defeated the Royals in five of the next six. The tide has shifted back Pennsylvania’s way since, with Reading riding a four-game point streak vs. Norfolk (3-0-1-0).

Scouting the AdmiralsAds Captain Brodie Dupont is in the league’s top-five with 47 points (16g) and led the squad with five goals and 15 points in January. The 11th year professional was a 2005 3rd round pick of the New York Rangers. Over the last five games, all on the road, the Admirals scored 22 goals (4.4 GF/GM). The high flying included including back-to-back eight-goal and seven-tally outputs vs. Greenville and Atlanta. Grant Besse and Thomas Frazee are tied for a team-best seven points since the goal explosion began.

Besse (18g) is two goals ahead of Dupont for the team lead.

Ty Reichenbach (27 GP) has seen the majority of time over Jamie Murray (15 GP) and Reichenbach is 12-11-3-0 with a 3.21 goals against average and .916 save percentage. Murray is 4-6-2-1, allowing nearly four goals a game (3.96 GAA) with a .893 save percentage.

The Admirals have the fewest home wins in the league (6-9-3-1 record) and possess a -22 goal differential at the Norfolk Scope. Norfolk is 3-10-0-0 against the North Division this season.

PK chargeReading’s penalty kill is third in the ECHL denying 86.2% of opponents’ chances. Over the last four games, the Royals are unblemished and the kill has denied 13 straight opportunities. The Royals need nine more kills in-a-row to reach an 87.0% success rate.

The Royals’ longest stretch without allowing a power-play goal this season is six straight games.

Next time – SaturdayThe Royals and Admirals next meet in a back-to-back set to conclude the regular season series Apr. 6-7. Reading is at Norfolk Apr. 6.

Still searching - SaturdayWhile Reading has made the Kelly Cup Playoffs in eight straight seasons, the Admirals are in danger of missing the postseason for their third straight season since joining the ECHL. Norfolk has finished last in the division their first two ECHL campaigns. In 2015-16, Reading tied for second in the former “East Division” with 82 points while the Admirals claimed fifth with 65 points. Reformed divisions saw Norfolk jump to the South last season (58 points).

The Admirals qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in their first seven AHL seasons (2000-08) and won the 2012 Calder Cup with Head Coach Jon Cooper, now the Tampa Bay Lightning’s bench boss.

Remembering MacDonald’s and Ftorek’s Head Coaching startsRoyals Head Coach Kirk MacDonald started his bench boss career vs. the Admirals and Norfolk head man Robbie Ftorek coached his first Admirals game against Reading. MacDonald became Reading’s Interim Head Coach with three games to go in the 2016-17 regular season and his first appearance was Apr. 5, 2016, a 2-1 victory vs. Norfolk. Under MacDonald’s guidance, the Royals finished the season with three straight wins against Norfolk and claimed the second seed in the North Division playoff bracket.

Ftorek is set to coach his 13th game against the Royals Saturday since making his Norfolk head coach debut against Reading Dec. 2, 2016. Ftorek stepped up as Head Coach halfway through the 2016-17 season after former head coach Rod Aldoff was dismissed with a 2-11-2 record. The Royals won back-to-back contests in Ftorek’s first games with the Admirals and Reading claimed a 6-4-1-0 season series edge in 2016-17.

Hockey N’ Heels and Princess Night on Fri., Feb 16 vs CIN at 7:00 p.m.First 1,500 women will receive a pink knit hat, thanks to Sweet Street Desserts.

Pink in the Rink, Pink Ice, special jerseys on Sat., Feb 17 vs BRM at 7:00 p.m.Pink knit scarf giveaway to the first 1,500 women, courtesy of Sweet Street Desserts. The Royals will wear special jerseys and play on pink ice.

Paw Patrol, Battle of the Badges, Faith and Family and Jerry “The King” Lawler on Sun., Feb 18 vs. WHL at 4:00 p.m.It’s Paw Patrol night! The Royals will wear special Paw Patrol jerseys from the popular Nickelodeon show.

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.

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.

About the RoyalsThe 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 AppHead 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 CoverageAll 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 ECHL.tv. Reading away games are shown locally on BCTV.