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Game 48 Preview: Reading at Norfolk

Saturday, February 3rd
Game 48 Preview: Reading at Norfolk

Surging Royals get road-trip break after Saturday showdown

Norfolk, VA – The Reading Royals (26-19-2-0, 54 pts., 4th North) play the fifth game of a six-game road trip at the Norfolk Admirals (17-22-5-1, 40 pts., 6th South) Saturday at 7:00 p.m. from the Norfolk Scope Arena. Reading is coming off a 7-1 win Friday. Chris McCarthy, Matt Willows and Derek Whitmore recorded multi-goal games.

After Saturday’s game, Reading heads home for Super Bowl Sunday and completes the six-game swing at Worcester on Wed., Feb. 7. So far in the road trip, Reading is 3-1-0-0 and outscored opponents, 15-8. Friday’s game marked the second time this season Reading recorded at least “touchdown with the extra point” – seven goals. The Royals scored a season-high nine Oct. 29 (9-4 W) vs. Adirondack. Friday’s victory was Reading’s most-lopsided of the season.

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.

McCarthy returns and starsChris McCarthy came back to the Royals from Lehigh Valley Friday and dominated with a professional-high four points (2g, 2a), moving him to second on the team with 15 goals and 29 points. His last four-point game was a four-assist effort his senior season at Vermont vs. Merrimack.

The effort returned McCarthy to “normal” after only playing one game in two weeks with the Phantoms. Prior to the call-up, the Collegeville, PA native registered five goals in seven games. Over his last eight, he has seven goals and 10 points.

McCarthy is credited with seven career multi-goal games, but has yet to crack a hat trick in 232 contests.

Whitmore swings his first multi-goal effortDerek Whitmore scored twice Friday, the first time he’s found twine a pair of times as a Royal. The tenth-year professional spent the last three seasons overseas, including a stint playing with Norfolk Captain Brodie Dupont.

The 33-year-old’s last multi-goal game was in the AHL with Adirondack on March 16, 2014. He logged 369 AHL games over seven seasons.

Dekanich gets out of skidMark Dekanich snapped an eight-game losing streak with 27 saves Friday. Despite the recent tough times, Reading had only supported him with 2.5 goals a game before the win. The Royals average 3.1 goals a game. Dekanich is 9-13-1-0 this season with a 3.07 goals against average and .908 save percentage.

Willows updateMatt Willows extended his career-long point streak to eight games with two goals in the victory against the Ads. Over the streak, Willows has five goals and 18 points. He earned Player of the Month in January, becoming the first Royal to win the monthly honor since Yannick Tifu in 2012-13.  It was Willows’ first multi-goal game since Dec. 15 vs. Wheeling, coincidentally the last time Mark Dekanich had earned a win prior to last night.

The third-year professional Willows is in the league’s top-ten with 45 points. Prior to the streak, Willows wasn’t in the top-20. He also tops the Royals with 16 goals, one ahead of line mate Chris McCarthy.

Muse Goaltender of the Month, Willows Player of the Month.The Royals received a pair of ECHL honors Friday; John Muse was tabbed Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for January and Willows received CCM ECHL Player of the Month. It is the first time the Royals have had a pair of players sweep Player and Goaltender of the Month honors in the same month.

Willows is the third Royals player to receive Player of the Month and first since Yannick Tifu in Dec. 2012. Five Reading netminders have won Goaltender of the Month, most recently Riley Gill in March 2013.

Muse went 9-2-0-0 over 11 games this month, recording a 1.97 goals against average and .940 save percentage. The stretch included a five-game winning streak. Willows finished the month on a seven-game point streak and recorded three goals and 13 points.

Reading has taken two league-wide awards in the same month on four different occasions. Last time the feat happened was Dec. 2009 when Ben Gordon took home Player of the Month and ECHL Plus Performer of the Month. Gordon is now the Associate Head Coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, serving with Head Coach and Royals legend Ryan Cruthers.

Goaltender of the Month in Royals historyJohn Muse (Jan. 2018) 9-2-0-0 record, 1.97 GAA, .940 sv. %, 1 shutoutRiley Gill (Mar. 2013) 9-2-1-0 record, 1.24 GAA, .953 sv. %, 3 shutoutsPhilipp Grubauer (Nov. 2012) 10-1-0-0 record, 2.13 GAA, .919 sv.%Cody Rudkowsky (Nov. 2005) 6-1-0-0 record, 1.72 GAA, .943 sv.%, 1 shutoutPeter Hamerlik (Feb. 2004) 6-0-1-0 record, 1.42 GAA, .955 sv.%

Player of the Month in Royals historyMatt Willows (Jan. 2018), 3g, 13a, 16 pts., 1 GWG (+3 rating)Yannick Tifu (Dec. 2012), 8g, 8a, 16 pts., 3 GWG (+7 rating)Ben Gordon (Dec. 2009), 6g, 14a, 20 pts. (+9 rating)

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 2-11-4-0 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.

Next timeThe 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 searchingWhile 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 returning to 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.

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.