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Game 65 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Friday, March 23rd
Game 65 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Royals look to tame resurgent Railers

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (34-22-8-0, 76 pts., 3rd North) begin a four-game home stand with the first of back-to-back games against the Worcester Railers (30-25-4-4, 68 pts., 5th North). Friday’s game is Special Olympics Night, featuring a Royals player trading card set giveaway to the first 2,500 fans (Rieck’s Printing).

Come to the ice after the game for a Beach Party! We call it the postgame shake, shiver and freeze to raise money for the Special Olympics. You can help raise money for Special Olympics with a $10 donation which will get you on the ice for shake, shiver and freeze (don’t forget your swimsuit and towel). We invite everyone to stick around, enjoy the fun and donate to this special cause.

The Royals have eight games remaining in the regular season and six are at home. The team’s magic number to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoffs spot is 11. Worcester fell in a shootout, 1-0, on Wednesday at Wheeling. The Railers are on a five-game point streak (4-0-0-1). Since the last meeting between the clubs on Feb. 22, Worcester is 7-3-0-1 (32 GF, 24 GA).

Reading last played on Wednesday at Manchester, gave up the first three goals and dropped, 4-1.

Reading bosses the edge in the season series, 6-4-1-0. The Royals have three home games remaining vs. the Railers in the season series and Reading finished 2-3-1-0 at Worcester. At Santander Arena, the Royals are 4-1-0-0 against the Railers and the lone loss was Jan. 6.

Saturday is Reading’s fourth-annual Autism Awareness night at 7:00 p.m. vs. Worcester. Here’s what you need to know:

Autism Awareness Night Sat., Mar. 24 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.A one-time-only giveaway: a puck with Head Coach Kirk MacDonald and Assistant Coach Pat Wellar to  commemorate the 5th anniversary of Reading winning the Kelly Cup. To support the Autism Society of Berks County and Unending Promise, we’re wearing special Autism Awareness jerseys that will be auctioned off at https://one.bidpal.net/goroyals.

Tickets are available here.

We thought we ended youOn Feb. 22, the Royals doubled the Railers, 6-3, to build a 10-point lead on Worcester for second in the North Division. Worcester was eight points behind Wheeling for the 4th and final playoff spot in the North and had a minus-16 goal differential. Since that point, the squad is 7-3-0-1 and allowing 2.2 goals per game (32 GF, 24 GA). In contrast, fourth-place Wheeling is 6-8-3-1 since Feb. 2.

Mitch Gillam has lowered his goals against average from 2.63 on Feb. 22 to 2.33. He had a 33-save shutout in the last game, but allowed the game-winning strike to Chris Francis in the fourth round of the shootout. He has played in ten of the last 11 and accumulated a 7-2-0-1 record.

Rookie defenseman Ryan MacKinnon (2g) and forward Barry Almeida (3g) lead the team with nine points over the last 10 games. Jeff Kubiak has a team-high five goals since Feb. 22.

Worcester was a season-worst four games below .500 on Jan. 28 after dropping four straight games. The Royals beat the Railers twice in January. Since falling to 15-19-3-2, the team is 15-6-1-2 and outscoring foes, 62-54. Worcester is 5-0-1-2 in one-goal decisions since Jan. 28.

Four-game point streaks for Pennsylvania nativesAdam Schmidt and Chris McCarthy, both in their fourth professional seasons, recorded assists in Wednesday’s loss to Manchester to extend to four-game point streaks. McCarthy has assists in four straight games and earned his 100th career assist against Brampton Mar. 17. He is up to 101 in his career. Over the last four games, the native of Collegeville, PA has one goal and six assists. Adam Schmidt, a Warrington native, has registered four goals and six points over the last four.

Matt Willows tapped in his fifth goal over the last six games with the team’s only goal last contest. He has a single-season best 29 goals and 67 points this season.

Season series: Royals lead, 6-4-1-0Entering the final three games of the series, the Royals are 4-1-0-0 at Santander Arena against the Railers. The only loss, Jan. 6, was on a goal with 22 seconds left by Worcester’s Frank DiChiara. The Royals have outscored the Railers, 31-22 in the series. In Royals wins, Reading has outscored the Railers, 24-10.

The Royals have won six of the last nine meetings.

Matt Willows has carved Worcester for a team-high 12 points (5g). Linemate Chris McCarthy leads the Royals with six goals (11 points) vs. the Railers and has goals in five of the last six meetings.

Barry Almeida is best on the Railers with four goals and nine points vs. Reading. Almeida won the 2013 Kelly Cup with the Royals and recorded four goals and six points in the playoffs. Woody Hudson is tied with Almeida for a team-best four goals in the series.

Branden Komm made 21 saves (3 GA) last time out in his only start against Worcester. Mitch Gillam allowed a season-worst six goals to Reading last meeting Feb. 22 and is 2-2-0-0 in five appearances vs. the Royals. It was the most goals Gillam allowed since last playoffs with Orlando and the second-most goals he’s allowed in a game during his career (10 GA last regular season to FLA). Gillam has allowed nine goals in the past two starts vs. Reading. In his first three appearances, the Cornell graduate allowed two goals on 60 shots.

The Royals are 5-1-1-0 when scoring the game’s first goal against the Railers. Reading is 1-3-1-0 in one-goal games during the series.

Scouting WorcesterDespite not scoring much in the first period, the Railers have been one of the league’s best when earning the lead. When scoring first, the Railers are 17-7-2-3 and are 13-1-1-1 when leading after the opening frame. The Railers are the league’s lowest-scoring squad in the first period (45 GF, 51 GA). Worcester has scored the first goal in six of the last 12 games and is 17-7-2-3 overall when netting it.

Leading scorer Barry Almeida has scored the opening goal in five games, best on the team. The fifth-year professional tops Worcester with 19 goals and 52 points. Chris Langkow is next in line with 45 points. Woody Hudson is tied for a team-best 19 goals. Over the last 20 games, Hudson has four goals.

Mitch Gillam has a 17-13-0-2 record, three shutouts, 2.33 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Will King has six wins on the season, all with Wheeling earlier this campaign, and has played in one game with Worcester (0-1-0-0 record).

2018-19 season tickets now availableTop full-season benefits include: exclusive Reading Hockey Club per seat gift, discounted rate off regular ticket prices, ticket exchange, preseason meet and greet, exclusive season ticket holder events, advanced entry and a chance to win and the Royals Owner’s Suite for a game. Call 610-898-7825 and visit to join the Royals family or renew season tickets for the 2018-19 season. Visit royalshockey.com/tickets/season-tickets to learn more.

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.