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Game 50 Preview: Cincinnati at Reading

Friday, February 16th
Game 50 Preview: Cincinnati at Reading

Start of a huge 3-in-3 promotional weekend

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (27-19-3-0, 57 pts., 4th North) begin a four-game home stand vs. the Cincinnati Cyclones (27-19-2-0, 56 pts., T-3rd Central) Friday at 7:00 p.m. on Hockey ‘N Heels and Princess Night. The first 1,500 women will receive a pink knit hat, thanks to Sweet Street Desserts. The Royals will have princesses on the concourse and kids can meet their favorites! Reading also encourages kids to dress as their favorite princesses.

Friday marks Reading’s first game since Feb. 7, a nine-day break. The respite allowed the Royals coaches to practice every day this week and prepare for three opponents in three days – Cincinnati, Brampton and Wheeling. The Royals are a season-high eight games above .500.

The Cyclones had a five-game win streak snapped Tuesday vs. Wichita, 3-2.

Reading dropped the first matchup in the season series, 4-3, Nov. 29. Friday marks the final game between the cross-conference foes.

Royals Pregame coverage starts at 6:45 p.m. on RumbaReading.com and Rumba 1340 (iHeartRadio).

Check out the Royals at Santander Arena Feb. 17-18 for a jam-packed Saturday and Sunday. Saturday at 7:00 p.m. vs. Brampton is Pink in the Rink. On Sunday at 4:00 p.m., Reading hosts Wheeling for PAW Patrol Night, Jerry “The King” Lawler Wrestling Night, Faith and Family Night and the Battle of the Badges. The Battle of the Badges game begins at 12:30 p.m. One ticket gains admission to both the Royals game and Battle of the Badges and tickets are available at royalshockey.com/tickets or by calling 610-898-7825.

Willows is still rumblingMatt Willows had a goal and two points in Reading’s last game against Worcester and remains on a career-long ten-game point streak. He also has goals in four straight games for the first time in his career, giving the forward five goals and 16 points over the streak.The 3rd-year professional started the streak with assists in six straight games, the first time he had ever done that.

Going back to Willows’ NCAA days (45g, 90 pts., 130 GP), his longest point streak was six during his senior season.

Besides his team lead in goals (18), assists (30) and points (48), Willows is on track to top the Royals in shots on goal. The Congers, NY native is second in the league with 200, trailing Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach.

Dex shines when Moose is upWith John Muse recalled to Lehigh Valley, Mark Dekanich starts Friday and has arguably played his best hockey with Muse in the AHL. The Royals have played 12 games this season without Muse on the active roster and Dekanich has made 377 saves in those dozen (31.4 saves/game), registering a 5-5-1-0 record and .926 save percentage. The “Dex Show” has started 11 of those, including four occasions where he’s started on consecutive days (4-4-0-0 record).

Some of Dekanich’s best recently included a pair of wins at Norfolk and a 22-save shutout Saturday. Dekanich has two shutouts this season and both came with Muse in Lehigh Valley. On Dec. 15, Dekanich stopped 50 shots in a shutout victory over Wheeling to tie a professional high in saves.

The Royals acquired Branden Komm from Manchester Tuesday to assist Dekanich with netminding duties.

Wilky remains silkyLeft wing Matt Wilkins has been the beneficiary of a productive line with Chris McCarthy and Matt Willows, recording points in 9/10 games (4g, 8a). He rides a season-long five-game point streak (2g, 5a) into Wednesday’s game.

The Union College graduate missed 12 games in December-January and returned Jan. 6 vs. Worcester.

Wilkins’ career-long point streak is six, accomplished last season as a rookie (3g, 5a).

Scouting the CyclonesCincinnati is 16-14-1-0 since the last meeting with Reading and has picked up victories in five of six games. The team has scored five goals in each of the last three of the last four and averages 3.29 goals per game.

Cincinnati’s leading scorer Justin Danforth (28g, 59 pts.) was recalled earlier in the week to Rochester (AHL).

The Cyclones’ league-best power play (21.1%) had a streak of man-up goals in ten straight games snapped Tuesday with an 0-for-3 performance vs. Wichita. Cincinnati has converted at a 38.4% clip (15-for-39) in the last 11. Over the last 15 games, Cincinnati has scored in 12 contests at a 28.3% conversion rate on 60 chances.

The penalty kill is third-worst in the league (78.5%), but has stopped opponents in four straight games (10-for-10). Prior to the uptick, the team allowed man-up tallies in nine straight games (29/40, 72.5%).

Anthony Peters (16 GP), Jason Kasdorf (17 GP) and Jonas Johansson (19 GP) have all put out a variety of goals against averages and save percentages but pulled out at least eight wins each.

Peters, now in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, has a 10-4-1-0 mark, 2.34 GAA and .925 sv.%. Kasdorf (8-7-0-0) is second on the team with a 2.96 GAA but last in the group sporting an .894 sv%. The rookie Johansson has totaled nine wins (9-8-1-0) to complement a 3.24 GAA and .905 sv.%.

The only other matchupThe 4-3 loss Nov. 29  snapped a two-game winning streak in the all-time series vs. Cincinnati. Chris McCarthy recorded a pair of goals. Matt Willows (2a) and Nick Luukko (1g, 1a) matched him on the score sheet in points. Mark Dekanich denied 20 shots (4 GA) in defeat. Jonas Johansson (win, 27 saves) allowed a goal to Luukko midway through the third to pull Reading within one, but faced just eight shots in the third frame.

Justin Danforth (1g, 1a) scored on an odd-man rush with 29 seconds to go in the second to provide Cincinnati its second two-goal edge of the game. Jesse Schultz had two assists. Cincinnati rallied for three goals in the second and three straight overall, to erase Reading’s opening goal.

The Royals have won 30 of 61 matchups in the regular season (30-25-6 record). Reading defeated Cincinnati in five games during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals to advance to its only Kelly Cup Finals. The Royals then triumphed over Stockton in five during the Finals for the team’s first Kelly Cup.

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.