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Game 29 Preview: Newfoundland at Reading

Tuesday, December 25th
Game 29 Preview: Newfoundland at Reading

Back-to-back games between top-two teams in North 

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (14-8-2-4, 34 pts., T-2nd North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, return from the holiday break and start a back-to-back vs. the division-leading Newfoundland Growlers  (19-8-1-0, 39 pts., 1st North) Friday at 7:00 p.m. Purchase four purple zone tickets for $15 each. Reading is offering special discounted purple zone tickets (4 for $15 each) to both games this weekend, including APHILLYATION Night Dec. 29 where the Royals will honor their proud affiliation with the Philadelphia Flyers. Call 610-898-7825 to take advantage of the offer.The Royals have won seven of the last eight games and had a season-long seven-game winning streak snapped at Worcester Dec. 22. In the 5-3 defeat, Reading received a pair of goals from Josh MacDonald, his third multi-goal game of the season. Chris McCarthy and Joe Houk each generated two assists.Newfoundland had the league’s “longest” holiday break, playing their last game Dec. 16 and defeating Brampton, 4-3. Since dropping consecutive games to the Royals Dec. 7-8, the Growlers have won three straight and outscored opponents, 15-8. Newfoundland has scored at least three goals in nine straight games.Reading is 2-2-1-0 in the 11-game season series.Listen to today’s game on the Mixlr App and Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals, with pregame coverage starting 15 minutes before puck drop.Next home gamesSaturday, Dec. 29 is APHILLYATION Night, with the Royals honoring their proud affiliation with the Philadelphia Flyers. Get four purple zone tickets for $15 each.Reading is home to face the Norfolk Admirals for the first time this season on Fri., Jan. 4 at 7:00 p.m.Assessing McCarthy’s dominance After starting the season with ten points (1g) in his first 20 games, McCarthy has generated six goals and 19 points in the month of December (8 GP).The Collegeville, PA native’s performance over the last eight contests represents the best point run of his professional career. McCarthy has received multiple points in seven of the last eight games; coincidentally, the Royals have won seven of the eight.For the majority of the month, McCarthy has centered a line with Josh MacDonald and McCarthy has helped MacDonald extend to a team-high 15 goals. This month, MacDonald has six goals and 12 points. When McCarthy nets a multi-point game, Reading is 29-3-2-0.Saturday at Worcester, McCarthy skated in his 200th ECHL game (285th career contest) and registered a pair of assists, extending to 174 points (63 goals) in his ECHL career.Goumas here, Goumas point Kevin Goumas played in his first ECHL game since May 2016 Saturday at Worcester and the fourth-year professional registered a helper on Jack Riley’s go-ahead goal in the third period. Goumas had last played for Reading in the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs, when he led the team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and topped the squad with 15 points (5g) in 14 games. His efforts included a postseason hat trick vs. Toledo in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that lifted the Royals past the Walleye and into the second round.After missing last season due to injury, Goumas started this season in Europe and played in two leagues (in Sweden and Austria) before flying back to the Unites States and signing with Reading Dec. 20.He has played in 17 ECHL regular season games (18 pts.) and 14 Kelly Cup Playoff games. He has recorded at least a point in 20 of those 31 combined games (6 multi-point games, 2 hat tricks). Goumas is one of three Royals to produce a hat trick in the Kelly Cup Playoffs (Brandon Alderson, Olivier Labelle).    Scouting the Growlers Over the club’s three-game winning streak, 11 Growlers have scored goals and 12 have points. Scott Pooley (3g) topped the team with five points as the squad swept Maine in consecutive games Dec. 11-12 and defeated Brampton Dec. 16. Down, 2-0, to Brampton, the Growlers scored four straight goals to up-end the Beast, 4-3. Pooley had three points (1g, 2a) in the win to extend to a team-high 14 goals. Fellow rookies Giorgio Estephan (13g) and Brady Ferguson (12g) are just behind Pooley.Seven of Newfoundland’s top-eight point scorers are in their first professional season.Newfoundland possesses the top record in the ECHL when scoring first (14-1-1-0). They have come-from-behind to win once vs. the Royals, allowing the first goal Oct. 24 but rallying for the next three strikes.Mario Culina is 5-0-0-0 on the season (2.20 GAA, .934 sv.%) and has started the last two games. In the first 26 contests, Culina started three games. The normal go-to netminder Michael Garteig is 13-7-1-0 with a 2.82 goals against average and .912 save percentage.Head-to-head: Royals 2-2-1-0 vs. GrowlersThe Royals are the only team to hand Newfoundland consecutive losses this season, which allowed Reading to climb back in the season series after dropping the opening three meetings. In the Dec. 7-8 series, the Royals outscored the Growlers, 12-8.Fourteen Royals players earned at least a point in the weekend sweep. Steven Swavely (8 pts.), Alex Krushelnyski (7 pts.) and Michael Huntebrinker (7 pts.) are Reading’s top scorers in the season series, but all have been called up to Lehigh Valley. Josh MacDonald (3g) and Adam Schmidt (3g) are next in line with five points. Schmidt recorded his first two-goal game of the season Dec. 8 at Newfoundland.Callum Booth is 2-0-0-0 vs. Newfoundland (8 GA).  Newfoundland’s Michael Garteig has allowed 16 goals in four games (.867 sv.%). Mario Culina denied 40 of 42 shots in victory Nov. 17 at Reading.Newfoundland’s top season-series scorers are J.J. Piccinich (2g, 4a), Sam Babintsev (4g, 1a) and Zach O’Brien (4g, 1a). The team’s top-three scorers (Scott Pooley, Giorgio Estephan, Brady Ferguson) have combined for six points in the five games.About the RoyalsThe Royals have been owned by serial entrepreneur Jack Gulati since 2014 and are entering their 18th 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 nine straight seasons and are four-time division champions.Listen to all Royals broadcasts at Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals or by downloading the Mixlr App from the App Store or Google Play.