Reading, PA – Santander Arena hosts two games Sunday, starting with the Battle of the Badges for the FirstStates Cup before the Reading Royals (23-22-4-5, 55 pts., 6th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, host the Adirondack Thunder (29-18-5-2, 65 pts., 2nd North) at 4:00 p.m.The undercard game is “Battle of the Badges for the FirstStates Cup” at 12:30 p.m. 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. Allentown won the second-ever cross-city bout last season.With 18 games remaining in the Royals’ season, Reading remains three points back of Brampton for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Royals were tied entering the third Saturday, but gave up two goals to Adirondack's John Edwardh and fell, 3-1, in Glens Falls. Reading is 3-4-0-1 against the Thunder this season. In the second game of “home-and-homes” with Adirondack, Reading is 1-1-0-0, with the only win coming Nov. 24 when Nick Niedert bested the Thunder with 38 saves (1 GA). Sunday’s contest is the fourth at Santander Arena and the Royals are 1-2-0-0 against the Thunder at home.Reading begins a season-long, six-game road trip Fri., Mar. 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Norfolk. The Royals and Admirals rematch in Hampton Roads on Sat., Mar. 2 at 7:00 p.m.The next Royals home game after Sunday is Fri., Mar. 15 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Indy, which is Mental Health Awareness Night. Tickets are available by calling 610-898-7825 or visiting royalshockey.com/tickets. 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.
Empire state fever Midseason transactions have given the Royals six players from New York state on their roster. Recently, the Royals received Branden Komm (Williamsville) from Lehigh Valley and traded for Niagara Falls, NY native Vinny Muto. Three of the six are from “downstate” and the other three are from Western New York. Jack Riley (West Point), Frank DiChiara (Ronkonkoma) and Kevin Goumas (Long Beach) are all within 70 miles of midtown Manhattan.Frank Hora (Cheektowaga), Komm and Muto (Niagara Falls) are from the Buffalo suburbs.Besides the Empire State players, the Royals have four from Pennsylvania and Charlie Vasaturo from the Philadelphia suburb of Sewell, NJ.By comparison, Adirondack has two New Yorkers, two Californians, and fourteen Canadians. Long road trip almost hereSunday’s game is the final before the Royals embark on a season-long six-game road trip Mar. 1-10. First, Reading snakes 300 miles down the coast to Virginia to skate against Norfolk Mar. 1-2, concluding a five-game series. Reading is 2-1-0-0 against the Admirals this season.Following the Mar. 2 battle, the club will venture 1,400 miles north and east to St. John’s, NL to play the division-leading Growlers in back-to-back games Mar. 5-6. The next day, Reading visits Brampton for the only time this regular season Mar. 9-10.In total, the Royals will leg about 3,388 miles over the nearly two-week long journey, roughly the same distance as a direct flight from Philadelphia to Anchorage, AK.Reading is next at home to face Indy on Mental Health Awareness Night Fri., Mar. 15 at 7:00 p.m.Battle of the Badges historyThe undercard to the Royals-Thunder rematch is the Battle of the Badges for the FirstStates Cup, which will take place at 12:30 p.m. at Santander Arena and features Reading Police and Fire vs. Allentown Police and Fire. The BOB Game began in 2006 as a benefit game played in remembrance of fallen Reading Police Officer Michael H. Wise II, who died in the line of duty in June of 2004, and Reading Police Officer Scott A. Wertz who was fatally wounded in the line of duty in August of 2006. The game also raises funds for the police and fire departments scholarship funds.The all-time series between the Reading Police and Fire Departments and the Allentown squads is tied, 1-1. Allentown won in Feb. 2018, 3-2. In the historical matchup between the Reading Fire Department and Reading Police Department, Fire won the series 6-4-1. Only the rookies The Royals have played seven netminders this season, but the only rookie to play is former Thunder goalie Devin Buffalo. By contrast, Adirondack has forged to second place in the division using six rookie netminders.Scouting the Thunder The Thunder snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday and are now 1-1-2-0 over their last four. John Edwardh’s two goals Saturday pushed him to a team-high 50 points. James Henry assisted his game-winning goal and has 49. Since Dec. 7, the rookie Edwardh has 40 points (18g) in 29 games. Over a 14-game point streak, he has generated 22 points.Adirondack is one of four teams to have a rookie leading the team in points (Maine, Orlando, Wichita). Edwardh has eight points (4g) against the Royals in the season series.Leading goal scorer Mike Szmatula (24g) signed a professional tryout contract with Utica (AHL) Friday.In the Community: Royals “Bleed Purple,” donate blood with Miller Keystone Blood Center Mar. 26The Reading Royals have teamed up with the Miller Keystone Blood Center for the team’s “Bleed Purple Blood Drive” event, which will happen Mar. 26 from 2:00-7:00 p.m. at Santander Arena. Meet Royals players and mascot Slapshot. Sign up for a donation time slot at GiveaPint.org/Reading-Royals or by emailing email@example.com with contact information. Call 610-898-7253 with additional questions.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.