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Game 70 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Wednesday, April 4th
Game 70 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Royals look for lock on 3rd in North   

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (37-24-8-0, 82 pts., 3rd North) can clamp down one of the North Division’s top-three spots with a win vs. the Worcester Railers (35-26-4-4, 78 pts., 4th North) Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. After Wednesday’s game, stick around for an autograph session with four players, courtesy of Rieck’s Printing.

With a four-point edge on Worcester, a victory places Reading six points ahead of the Railers with two games to go. The Royals clinched a berth in the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs last Friday and playoffs tickets are on sale by calling 610-898-7825. The Kelly Cup Playoffs begin Apr. 11.

Reading is three points back of Adirondack for second place and four behind Manchester for the North Division’s top spot. The Royals finish up the regular season on Friday and Saturday with a home-and-home with the Norfolk Admirals.

Last game, Nolan Zajac and Steven Swavely scored goals in a 6-2 loss at Adirondack Saturday. Branden Komm denied 10 shots in relief of Mark Dekanich.

Worcester, once 13 points out of the 4th and final playoff spot, has hopped Wheeling with wins in four straight games. Sunday, the Railers took out the Thunder, 4-1, and Frankie DiChiara had two goals.

On Sat., Apr. 7, the Royals play the final game of the season at home against Norfolk on FANdemonium. 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.

Zajac on the board

Nolan Zajac is second in the league among defensemen with 16 goals after scoring Saturday. One goal ties him with Utah’s Taylor Richart for most by a blue liner this season. A second-year defender from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zajac has boosted into a tie for third on the team with 43 points.

Last campaign, Zajac played for the Toledo Walleye, the league’s top-scoring team, and recorded 54 points (11 goals). In the postseason, he had nine assists in 16 games, including a personal-playoff-high three assists vs. Kalamazoo Apr. 23.

His 16 goals is the most he’s had in a season since junior hockey. In three seasons at the USHL level (154 GP), he combined for 14 goals. Over four NCAA seasons at Denver, Zajac registered 19 career tallies.

On Mar. 17 vs. Brampton, the 25-year-old had a pair of assists to surpass 100 points in his professional career.

One short of 70Matt Willows recorded an assist Saturday to tick up to a team-leading 69 points this season. With one more, he becomes the 8th Royals player to hit 70 in a season.

The last to do it, Olivier Labelle, knocked home 30 goals and 71 points in 2014-15. Willows scored his 30th goal of the season Friday vs. Manchester, becoming the 6th Royals player to have at least 30 in a season.

If Willows gets another point, he’d be the fourth Royals player to have at least 30 goals and 70 points in a season, joining Labelle, Greg Hogeboom (30g, 74 pts., 2006-07), Brian McCullough (39g, 89 pts., 2002-03) and Steve Rymsha  (38g, 77 pts., 2002-03).Here is a full list of Royals players to hit the 70-point plateau in a season.

Brian McCullough 2002-03 (89 pts.)

Brad Rooney 2002-03 (87 pts.)

Steve Rymsha 2002-03 (77 pts.)

Greg Hogeboom 2006-07 (74 pts.)Yannick Tifu 2012-13 (72 pts.)Ryan Cruthers 2009-10 (71 pts.)Olivier Labelle 2014-15 (71 pts.)

How did they do it?The Railers have won seven straight at home and four consecutive overall to jump past Wheeling for the 4th and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Railers are 9-1-0-1 in their last 11, with the lone regulation loss to the Royals Mar. 24.

Over the last 11, the squad has outscored foes, 29-15. Mitch Gillam has played in all those games, recording a 1.34 goals against average, .953 save percentage (305 saves, 320 shots) and two shutouts.

On Jan. 25, the Railers (35 pts.) were 13 points behind the Royals for the 4th and final playoff spot and had the fewest home wins in the league (6). Wheeling was in second with 51 points. Since Jan. 25, the Royals are 14-6-6-0 (34 pts.), Worcester is 20-7-1-2 (43 pts.) and Wheeling is 10-11-5-1 (26 pts.). The Railers have made up 17 standings points on Wheeling in 30 games, in part due to a 15-2-1-0 home mark. Gillam is 15-5-0-2 with a 1.83 goals against average and .938 save percentage since the 25th. The remarkable netminding has lowered his goals against average from 2.68 to 2.18 (5th in the league). His save percentage sat at .908 on the 25th but is now 5th in the circuit at .924. He has three shutouts over the last two months, pushing him to a league-leading five this season. The Royals are 2-1-1-0 vs. Worcester since Jan. 25.

Barry Almeida has 32 points (10g) in 30 games since Jan. 25. Matt Lane and Jeff Kubiak are tied with Almeida for a team-high 10 since

On 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 at that point.

There’s a path to first It is still possible for the Royals to get first place in the North Division.


Reading wins all three games this week.


Adirondack defeats Manchester on Friday and loses in regulation Sunday to Brampton.


Manchester finishes with fewer than 88 points. The Monarchs currently have 86.

Season series: Royals lead, 7-5-1-0The Royals finish the regular season series with the Railers Wednesday. Reading is 5-2-0-0 at Santander Arena against the Railers. Reading has outscored Worcester, 35-26 in the series. Over Reading’s seven wins, they have lit up the Railers for 27 goals and allowed ten. The Royals have scored the game’s opening goal eight times vs. Worcester, attaining a 6-1-1-0 record when netting the first tally.

Chris McCarthy leads all players in the series with seven goals and is tied with Matt Willlows for a series-high 12 points. Former Royals forward Barry Almeida has poached Reading for five goals and ten points, best on Worcester.

Mitch Gillam is 3-3-0-0 vs. the Royals, allowing 15 goals in seven games (2.37 GAA, .916 sv.%). Mark Dekanich is 2-3-0-0 vs. the Railers (9 GA), while Branden Komm is 1-1-0-0 (6 GA).

2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs Tickets On SaleLock down your Kelly Cup Playoff tickets by calling 610-898-7825. A Royals team member will provide you with curbside service outside the Lion’s Den Team Store at the corner of 8th and Penn Street; just call 610-898-7825 and we will deliver your tickets without leaving your car.

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.