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Game 72 Preview: Norfolk at Reading

Saturday, April 7th
Game 72 Preview: Norfolk at Reading

Playoff-bound Royals host final game of regular season with FANdemonium   

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (38-24-9-0, 85 pts., 3rd North) give away prizes at every whistle vs. the Norfolk Admirals (26-38-6-1, 59 pts., T-5th South) Saturday at 7:00 p.m. It’s FANdemonium and the final game of the 2017-18 regular season. The first 2,500 fans receive a Royals rally towel, courtesy of Tower Health. Tickets are available here.

The Royals have qualified for the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs, while Norfolk is out of contention. Season ticket holders: stick around after the game for a chance to win a players’ jersey in “Jerseys off our Back” (must be present to win). To support the Royals in the playoffs, use #PurplePride on social media.

2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs and tickets are on sale by calling 610-898-7825. The Royals are also offering curbside service and a playoff voucher program, allowing fans to use five playoff tickets to any game(s). The Royals will know their playoff dates by Sunday, the final day of the regular season.

The Royals are 3-0-0-0 in the season series against the Admirals. Friday at Norfolk, the Royals received five multi-point games and destroyed the Admirals, 6-2. Reading has outscored Norfolk, 15-3, through the first three games of the season series.

Reading is guaranteed a top-three seed in the North Division with Friday’s win. The Royals are one point behind Manchester for second place and two behind Adirondack for first. Reading cannot pass the Thunder in the standings because Adirondack owns the first tiebreaker. If Manchester gets at least a point in the final three games, the Royals are locked into the third seed and will start the Kelly Cup Playoffs on the road next week.

The Royals have points in five of the last six games (4-1-1-0).

Willows to 70 points and Huntebrinker to 20 goalsMatt Willows ripped three points Friday to move to 31 goals and 72 points this season. He is the sixth Royals player to score at least 30 goals in a season and the eight to hit 70 points. Olivier Labelle was the last Royals player to reach both milestones.

Meanwhile, Michael Huntebrinker scored his 20th goal of the season Friday, becoming the 9th Royals rookie to reach at least 20 in a campaign. Domenic Menardo holds the Royals rookie record with 27 in 2013-14.

Regular season finaleThe Royals have won three of the last four regular season finales, including a 4-2 win in Norfolk last season. In the past 10 seasons, Reading is 5-2-2-1 and has outscored their opponents 33 to 31. In Reading’s first six years, the team started 1-5-0-0 in the regular season’s last game.

72 gamesMatt Willows and Nolan Zajac have both played 71 games this season, one away from a skating in every regular season game. Last season, forward Ryan Penny became the 11th former Royals player to hit 72 games in a regular season.

Before Penny, Olivier Labelle and Pat Mullane each played in all 72 during the 2014-15 campaign. Labelle is Reading’s all-time games played leader (294). During Reading’s run to the 2013 Kelly Cup, Yannick Tifu skated in 94 combined games (72 regular season, 22 playoffs).

Seven Royals players have appeared in at least 60 games this season.

Major beat downsThis Royals season has had four games decided by at least six goals, all in Reading’s favor. Reading’s first six-goal win, 7-1, was vs. the Admirals on Feb. 2 and Chris McCarthy recorded a career-high four points.

Two weeks later, the Royals recorded the most-lopsided victory in team history, an 8-0 stomping over Cincinnati. The Royals thumped Wheeling, 6-0, two days later. Reading completed the March home schedule with a sweep over Manchester, including another 6-0 domination Mar. 28.

Friday, the Royals won by four but opened up a 5-0 edge in the second, stampeding to a 6-2 advantage.

Home powerThe Royals are 23-10-2-0 at home this season, good for 48 points. A win gives the team 50 points at home, the 5th-best in team history. Reading’s best home record (54 points) happened in 2003-04 and 2012-13.First in the record bookThe Royals have scored the first goal 45 times this season, the most ever by Reading in a single season. Matt Willows scored the opening goal Friday, surpassing the 2004-05 team (44) for most “first goals”. That season, Reading was 36-5-3 when netting the game’s opening goal. This season, 31 of Reading’s 38 wins have come when scoring first. The 2004-05 season also ranks as Reading’s most-dominant in the first period (+28 goal differential, 70 GF). This season, the Royals have scored 77 first-period goals and allowed 57.

Fewest PIMThe Royals have taken 654 penalty minutes this season, on pace for the fewest in a regular season over the team’s history. The previous low, 770, came last season and was also fewest per game in the ECHL. The Royals have had 18 major penalties this season, six fewer than last campaign.

Three Royals players – Olivier Labelle, Derik Johnson and Justin Crandall – had more than 60 PIM last season. This campaign, no one on Reading has more than 60.

We go extraThe Royals have had 15 games decided in overtime (6-9 record), the team’s most-ever in a season. The six wins is tied for the 2005-06 team for the most by a Royals team in a single season. Reading is also 4-0 in shootouts. Barring a Saturday shootout loss, the 2017-18 Royals will become the first club to go perfect in a shootout. Michael Huntebrinker leads the Royals with three shootout game-winning goals.

Still searching – Saturday The Admirals will miss the postseason for their third straight season since returning to the ECHL. In 2015-16, Reading tied for second in the former “East Division” with 82 points while the Admirals claimed fifth with 65 points. Reformed divisions saw Norfolk jump to the South last season (58 points).

The Admirals qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in their first seven AHL seasons (2000-08) and won the 2012 Calder Cup with Head Coach Jon Cooper, now the Tampa Bay Lightning’s bench boss.

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.

The Royals are offering five playoff vouchers for $85. Use the five vouchers at any home playoff games!

Miniplans available for 2018-19!Call 610-898-7825 to learn more about 9, 12 and 18 game mini-plans for the 2018-19 season!

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.