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Game 62 Preview: Fort Wayne at Reading

Wednesday, March 14th
Game 62 Preview: Fort Wayne at Reading

Stolarz starts and team has signed F Viktor Liljegren to ATO

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (33-21-7-0, 73 pts., 3rd North) meet the Fort Wayne Komets (41-16-2-1, 85 pts., 2nd Central) for the only time this season and begin a massive home week Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Head Coach Kirk MacDonald announced G Anthony Stolarz will make his season debut against the Komets. The Flyers loaned Stolarz to Reading from Lehigh Valley Tuesday. The 6-foot-6, 232-lb. native of Jackson, NJ played in seven games for the Flyers last season.

Wednesday’s game features a postgame autograph session with four players, courtesy of Rieck’s Printing. The Royals have six of the next seven games at Santander Arena, where the team boasts the best home record in the North (19-9-0-0).

The Royals have also signed F Viktor Liljegren to an amateur try-out contract (ATO). The native of Stockholm, Sweden accumulated nine goals and 13 points at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this season and served as the team’s captain. Over four NCAA seasons, Liljegren ripped in 31 goals and 58 points.

Reading finished a season-long eight-game road trip at Wheeling Saturday and doubled the Nailers, 6-3. The Royals earned ten of a possible 16 points over the trip, accruing a 3-1-4-0 mark over the eight-game stretch.

The Komets sit four behind arch-rival Toledo for first in the Central Division. With a win Wednesday, Fort Wayne clinches a playoff spot for the fifth consecutive season. The Royals have made the playoffs in eight straight campaigns and Reading’s magic number is 15.

The Royals are also home Saturday at 7:00 against Brampton and the contest is slated as one of the season’s biggest promotional games of the season. Here’s what you need to know for the game and tickets are available here.

1) Wrestling legend Ted DiBiase the “Million Dollar Man” will be in attendance to take pictures and sign autographs during the game. There is no charge for pictures or autographs. Fans can meet the Million Dollar Man during the first and second periods. Season ticket holders will have a special meet-and-greet with the Million Dollar Man from 5:45-6:30 p.m. at the game.

2) Up until Thursday, fans can enter for a chance to win $10,000; register to be entered into the contest here or fill out a form in Monday’s Reading Eagle Sports Section and return it to the Royals offices.

3) The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a special-edition Tifu poster, courtesy of Rieck’s Printing and Diamond Credit Union.

4) The Kelly Cup will be at the game with Mr. Pat Kelly! Get your picture taken with the Kelly Cup Fri., Mar. 16 during Happy Hour 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Jimmy G’s Beverley Hills Tavern on Old Fritztown Road. It’s the 5th anniversary of the team winning the Kelly Cup.

5) All fans are invited to stay after the game to partake in a special photo “recreation” of Yannick Tifu receiving the Kelly Cup from Mr. Pat Kelly after Saturday’s game.

It happenedThe Royals are 19-8-5-0 since the holiday break, helping the team meet requirements for their normal post-holiday-break jump in the standings.

Last season, the squad went 13-3-0-1 after returning from Christmas to boost to 28-14-1-2 and second in the North Division. The run included a five-game win streak. During 2014-15, the Royals accrued 12 consecutive wins in an 18-4-0-0 stretch after the holidays. The 2013-14 team demolished opponents during a 10-3-0-0 post-Christmas jaunt which included a seven-game winning streak. The season before, Reading came out on first with five wins in six games after the holidays.

Prior to this strong run since the holidays, the team was 14-13-2-0 and 4th in the North Division.

The Royals have been in a playoff spot (top four in North Division) since Nov. 21, when Reading moved to 8-5-1-0 in a victory over Adirondack. The team is 26-16-6-0 since Nov. 21.

Both Reading and Fort Wayne have also been exceptional since around the all-star break. Since the day before the break (Jan. 14), the Royals are 13-4-5-0. The Komets are 20-4-0-1 since Jan. 13, running off a pair of six-game win streaks.

Scouting Fort WayneThe Komets boast the top scoring offense in the league, pounding 4.2 goals per game. In contrast, the Royals defense ranks fourth in goals against per game, allowing 2.8 a contest.

Shawn Szydlowski is the league’s top scorer, pouring in a league-high 68 points. He is seven away from a single-season best 75 points, accomplished during 2015-16.

Accumulating 20 multi-point games along the way, Szydlowski has had at least three points in seven games this season. Matt Willows tops Reading with 21 multi-point games and is third in points with 64.

Among Szydlowski’s career accolades with the Komets, he has recorded a five-goal game (3/21/15 vs. Missouri), a five-assist game and received a pair of all-ECHL team selections.

Garret Thompson is second on Fort Wayne with 62 points, and Gabriel Desjardins leads the squad with 28 goals. Szydlowski (27g) and Thompson (26g) are just behind Desjardins.

Garrett Bartus is 16-4-0-1 with a 2.61 goals against average and .911 save percentage.

Milestone talkHere are where some Royals are in the chase for milestones heading into the final 11 games of the regular season.Matt Willows – 196 career points

Nick Luukko – 199 career GP

Matt Wilkins – 96 career GP

Ryan Penny – 149 ECHL GP

Nolan Zajac – 98 career points

Chris McCarthy 98 career assists

4 in 48The Royals have played four home games over the past 48 days dating back to Jan. 25. Reading has endured its two longest road trips of the season since Jan. 25 (six games and eight games). Over those two trips, the Royals combined for a 7-2-5-0 record.

Over the last road trip, Matt Wilkins topped Reading with six goals. Sixteen Royals skaters had points and Chris McCarthy and Matt Willows topped the squad with seven each.

Season tickets for 2018-19 now available: Early Renewal through Mar. 15Call 610-898-7825 to join the Royals family or renew season tickets for the 2018-19 season. Early renewal and registration runs through Mar. 15. Top Early Renewal Benefits include: Extra chance to win jerseys-off-our-backs | Chance to win Owner's Suite | Chance to watch warm-ups from bench and high-five tunnel experience.

Special Olympics Night Fri., Mar. 23 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.Postgame shake, shiver and freeze with the Royals to raise money for the Special Olympics and a Royals trading card set giveaway to the first 2,500 fans (Rieck’s Printing).

Autism Awareness Night Sat., Mar. 24 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.This is one of the best nights of the season for a wonderful cause. No goal horn and the Royals wear special autism awareness jerseys. Plus, a one-time-only giveaway: a puck with Head Coach Kirk MacDonald and Assistant Coach Pat Wellar.

Royals Awards Banquet at Santander Arena Mar. 26Register here. Get a pregame pep talk from Royals Head Coach Kirk MacDonald, behind-the-scenes tour of the Royals locker room and buffet meal at Santander Arena Mon., Mar. 26 from 6-8 p.m. for the Royals Awards Banquet. We will hand out the best awards from the 2017-18 season.

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.