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Game 54 Preview: Royals at Adirondack

Friday, February 22nd
Game 54 Preview: Royals at Adirondack

Royals start third “home-and-home” with Thunder

Glens Falls, NY – Coming off a riveting shootout win Friday in Manchester, the Reading Royals (23-21-4-5, 55 pts., 6th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, visit the Adirondack Thunder (28-18-5-2, 63 pts., 2nd North) in the front leg of a home-and-home series Saturday at 7:00 p.m. At Manchester Friday, Matt Pohlkamp scored with 1:56 left to tie the game at three and Josh MacDonald scored the shootout’s only goal to secure a come-from-behind victory. Pohlkamp scored twice in his Royals debut, the first Reading player to score at least two in his first Royals game since Kevin Sundher in 2015.  Reading and Adirondack battle 12 times (7 in Glens Falls) and the Royals have earned at least a point in each of the first two back-to-backs (1-2-0-1). The Royals are 3-2-0-0 against the Thunder since Adirondack rattled off three straight wins to begin the season series. The home-and-home vs. Adirondack concludes this Sun., Feb. 24 at 4:00 p.m. The undercard game is “Battle of the Badges for the FirstStates Cup” at 12:30. One ticket earns fans access to both games to benefit the Battle of the Badges Scholarship Fund for Reading’s fire and police departments and Allentown’s fire and police departments. All fans will receive a Berks Schuylkill Oil Heat Puck on Faith and Family Night.Adirondack returned from a seven-game road trip Friday vs. Maine and lost their third straight game, 4-3, in overtime on Terrance Wallin’s strike.  Reading and Adirondack last met Feb. 1 in New York; the Royals received the opening two goals from Alex Roos and Tyler Bird, but consecutive short-handed goals from the Thunder started a four-goal third period and downed Reading, 4-2.The Royals are 4-5-1-0 since the last series meeting, while the Thunder are 3-3-2-0. Reading also announced forward Rob Darrar has been released from his ECHL contract. Next Home GamesSun., Feb. 24 at 4:00 p.m.: Faith and Family Night + Battle of the Badges with a Berks Schuylkill Oil Heat Puck Giveaway vs. Adirondack1) Pregame Battle of the Badges for the FirstStates Cup game (Allentown police and fire vs. Reading police and fire departments)2) Royals will give away a Berks Schuylkill Oil Heat Puck.3) Faith & Family NightFri., Mar. 15: Mental Health Awareness Night vs. Indy at 7:00 p.m.Supporting mental health initiatives with the Royals Sat., Mar. 16: St. Hat Trick’s Day vs. Indy at 7:00 p.m.1) Chance to win $10,000 if Royals player gets a hat trick2) Ice Angels Dance Team card giveaway, pres. by Baja Beach Tanning Club3)  Enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of ReadingFri., Mar. 22: Community Night at 7:00 p.m. vs. Newfoundland1) Celebrate the local groups and organizations that make Berks County special2) Enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of ReadingGroup tickets start at $11 for all Royals home games.Listen to today’s game at mixlr.com/readingroyals or watch on ECHL.tv. Coverage starts 15 minutes before puck drop.

Debut rating: A+ from PohlkampMatt Pohlkamp became the ninth player in Royals history to score at least two goals in his Reading debut, scoring twice, including the late tying goal, to help Reading win Friday at Manchester.The last time it happened, Oct. 23, 2015, Kevin Sundher banged in three goals and four points against Elmira.Three Royals players; Jon Zion, Sundher and Brian McCullough, each generated hat tricks in their first Reading games.Pohlkamp, a second-year player from Baxter, MN, has scored 18 goals this season, second among active Royals. He led Quad City with 19 goals last season.    

North Division assessment The Royals are three points out of the fourth and final North Division playoff spot and plays 16 of its final 19 within the North.Out of the Royals’ main opponents to watch in the playoff race, Brampton plays 13 North Division games, Maine has 12, Worcester and Manchester play 15. Adirondack is done facing cross-division foes.The Royals’ remaining schedule consists of five more matchups with Adirondack, four vs. Newfoundland, two with Maine, two vs. Brampton, and one more against Worcester. Reading also plays Norfolk and Indy twice and Wheeling once.

More than half of the Royals’ remaining divisional games are against first-place Newfoundland and second-place Adirondack.Expecting the unexpected A Reading win Friday would even the 12-game series against Adirondack at four wins apiece. Despite the nearly even nature of it, the series has been defined by unexpected outcomes.In the first meeting, Nov. 9, the Royals trailed, 2-0, with fewer than five minutes left when Branden Komm suffered an injury. Angus Redmond relieved Komm in net. Next, Brayden Low scored with 1:58 to go and Josh MacDonald curled in the tying goal with half a second left in the third to force overtime. Redmond lost the game in the fifth round of the shootout, becoming the first Royals goaltender ever to drop a game without giving up a goal in regulation or overtime.Two weeks later, with Redmond injured, the Royals signed longtime emergency backup Nick Niedert to an ECHL contract hours before the game and he made a career-best 38 saves to stun the Thunder, 2-1. The win came 24 hours after Adirondack blasted Reading, 8-3.Next, Dec. 1, the Carolina Hurricanes reassigned Callum Booth to the Royals on game day. Booth hopped in a car from Connecticut to meet the Royals in Glens Falls and he toasted the Thunder with 31 saves in a 3-1 winTwo months later, in the last series game Feb. 1, the Thunder provided their most-improbable victory. Trailing, 2-0, entering the third and short-handed for five minutes because of a match penalty against Matias Cleland, the Thunder scored two short-handed goals to begin the final frame, tying the game at two. Next, Mike Szmatula buried the game-winning strike at 17:45 of the third.About the RoyalsThe Royals are in their 18th ECHL season and 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.