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Game 68 Preview: Manchester at Reading

Friday, March 30th
Game 68 Preview: Manchester at Reading

Pucks N’ Paws, team picture giveaway and Royals can clinch a playoff berth

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (36-23-8-0, 80 pts., 3rd North) can clinch a berth in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs in the final series matchup against the Manchester Monarchs (40-22-3-2, 85 pts., 1st North) Friday at 7:00 p.m. Tonight’s game features intermission Wiener Dog Races on Pucks N’ Paws Night. The first 2,500 fans receive a Royals team picture, courtesy of Tower Health and Rieck’s Printing. It’s also Girl Scout Night, benefitting Eastern PA Girl Scouts. Purchase tickets here.

Here is how Reading can clinch a spot in the playoffs Friday.

Scenario 1: Reading clinches a playoff spot Friday if:

Reading wins


Wheeling Loses in regulation

Scenario 2: Reading clinches a playoff spot Friday if:

Reading wins in regulation or overtime


Worcester loses in regulationThe team is seeking its ninth straight Kelly Cup Playoffs appearance.

The Royals annihilated the Monarchs in the first game of the back-to-back, 6-0, Wednesday at Santander Arena. Adam Schmidt tied a career high with three points and Matt Wilkins recorded two goals. Reading scored three goals in the opening 1:43. John Muse made 32 saves in his first game back from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Royals have back-to-back shutout wins for the first time since Adam Morrison did it with 88 straight saves Dec. 19-26, 2015 vs. Elmira. Reading has outscored opponents, 9-0, over the last two games.

Friday is the final game of the season series and each team has four wins.

The Royals have three home games remaining. On Wed., Apr. 4, the team hosts Worcester for a postgame autograph session at 7:00 p.m. Next Sat., Apr. 7, the Royals will play the final game of the season against the Norfolk Admirals. Reading is at Adirondack Saturday at 7:00 p.m. for the 14th and final game of the season series. The Royals have a home-and-home set against Norfolk next week.

Moose is still marvelous

Including time in the AHL with Lehigh Valley, John Muse has shutouts in consecutive games after a 32-save blanking vs. Manchester Wednesday. In his final Phantoms game Mar. 18 vs. Springfield, Muse blocked 23 shots. He played most of February and March in the AHL with Lehigh Valley and returned to the Royals Tuesday. He has three shutouts with Reading this campaign and one with Lehigh Valley. Since Dec. 1, Muse has a 23-3-1-1 mark combined between the Royals and Phantoms.

He has 28 total wins this season, the most he’s ever had in a single season. On the campaign with Lehigh Valley, he went 10-1-1 with a 2.13 goals against average and .931 save percentage. With Reading, he is 18-5-2-0 and has garnered a 2.18 goals against average. His .933 save percentage is tied for best in the league with Colorado’s Joe Cannata.

Five at or above 40

Three points from Adam Schmidt and a pair of goals from Matt Wilkins Wednesday gave the Royals five players with at least 40 points this campaign. Schmidt, sitting at 40, is having his most-productive month of the season (6g, 6a, 11 GP) and had a seven-game point streak snapped Mar. 24.

The 27-year-old native of Warrington, PA has registered 17 goals and 40 points this campaign.

Matt Willows (67 pts.), Chris McCarthy (51), Nolan Zajac (42), Wilkins (41) and Schmidt are all at 40 or above. Michael Huntebrinker is two points away from becoming the sixth to join the list. Last season, seven Royals players cracked 40 points.

Manchester player to watch: Jordan Lavallee-SmothermanTwelfth-year professional Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman ranks second in the league in goals (33) and third in points (70). His production gives him the most points and goals by a Monarchs player in a single season since the unit joined the ECHL. Ten of his points (8g, 2a) have come over eight games against Reading and he’s recorded at least a point in seven of eight matchups. His strikes have proved timely; Manchester has four victories in the series and three have been his game-winning tallies. The Corvallis, Oregon native also has three multi-goal outputs vs. Reading.

This is his first full season back from overseas; from 2011-16, Lavallee-Smotherman played in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. He left Europe for the Monarchs in the 2016-17 campaign and put up 20 points in 18 games.

The only player remaining in the ECHL drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers (2004, 4th round), the 31-year-old skated in four games for Atlanta over two seasons (1g, 1a). For his overseas, NHL, AHL and ECHL career, Lavallee-Smotherman has combined to register 458 points in 740 games.

Lavallee-Smotherman also leads the Monarchs in with a plus-22 rating this season.

Since January 14, when he scored a goal against Reading, Lavallee-Smotherman has 39 points (17g).

Final time (for now)Friday’s game is the final of the season series and it is tied, 4-4.

Reading has scored the first goal in three of the seven games. When scoring first, the Royals are 3-0-0-0.

The winning team has held at least a three-goal lead in seven of the eight matchups. Reading has outscored Manchester, 19-6, in its three wins. Over the Monarchs’ four wins, Manchester owns a 20-5 goal differential.

One game has been decided by a goal and the Royals earned a 2-1 shootout victory Feb. 25.

The teams have never met in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Reading has won eight opening series and dropped four.

All-time series historyManchester has been in the ECHL for three seasons and the Royals have 12 wins and 16 losses all time vs. the Monarchs. In the Royals’ 12 wins, they have scored 56 goals (4.7 scored/game) and allowed 19 goals (1.6 allowed/game). In contrast, the Royals have been outscored, 29-75, in defeats (1.8 GF/game, 4.7 GA/game).

Reading is 4-3-2-0 in one-goal games all time vs. Manchester. In games decided past regulation, Reading is 2-2 (1-0 in shootout).

Postgame autograph session, Wed., Apr. 4 vs. WOR at 7:00 p.m.Check out a postgame autograph session with four players, presented by Rieck’s Printing. It’s the final game of the season series between Reading and Worcester and the Royals lead the series, 7-5-1-0.

Tickets are available here.FANdemonium, prizes at every whistle and last home game of regular season, Sat., Apr. 7 vs. NOR at 7:00 p.m.We are giving away Royals prizes at EVERY WHISTLE! Plus, the first 2,500 fans receive a Royals rally towel, courtesy of Tower Health. Tickets are available here.

Season ticket holders: stick around after the game for a chance to win a game-used Royals jersey with “Jerseys off our Back” promotion. You must be present to win.

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.

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.