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Game 67 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Thursday, March 21st
Game 67 Preview: Worcester at Reading

Game 67 Preview: Worcester at Reading  Royals tussle with Railers looking to keep three-in-three momentum high

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals (28-28-4-6, 66 pts., 7th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, complete their final three-in-three of the regular season against Worcester Railers (30-25-6-4, 70 pts., T-5th North) Sunday at 4:00 p.m. on Scout Night. Pregame scout activities start at Santander Arena at 1:30 p.m.Sunday continues the Royals’ season-long five-game home stand. Through the first two, the Royals are 1-0-0-1 and Saturday Reading earned a point in a 12-round shootout loss, 3-2, to the Newfoundland Growlers. The Royals had a crowd of 4,974 supporting Anthony Myers, a Berks Catholic student that launched The Anthony Myers Movement at Saturday’s game. The Anthony Myers Movement will help those with medical difficulties.In Saturday’s skills-competition loss, Newfoundland defenseman Garrett Johnston scored the game-winning strike in the bottom of the 12th round. Jamie Phillips blocked 33 shots in the game and ten in the shootout. Matt Pohlkamp scored in the ninth round for Reading, the first shootout goal of the game, but the Growlers answered with a strike from rookie Matthew Whittaker to extend the competition to the 10th round.Before the shootout, Pohlkamp netted his 20th of the season in the first and the Royals and Growlers traded goals. Kevin Goumas made it 2-1 early in the second, but a short-handed goal from Brady Ferguson midway through the second sent the teams tied at two into the third. Eamon McAdam blocked 42 shots in the win for Reading, while Jamie Phillips sent aside 33.With six games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season, the Royals are six points behind Manchester for the fourth and final North Division playoff spot. Manchester faces Maine at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.    Reading has played the Railers five times this season and the Royals have earned at least a point three times (1-2-1-1). Sunday is Worcester’s first game in Reading since the clubs played twice on the season’s opening weekend Oct. 13-14 at Santander Arena. On Oct. 14, the Royals scored a season-high four power-play goals (3 PPG in second period) to steam roll Worcester, 6-4. The Railers won all three games contested at the DCU Center, holding Reading to six combined goals.Worcester is 7-3-1-0 over the last month and did lost Saturday at Manchester, 4-1. Rookie Drew Callin scored Worcester’s lone goal in his first professional game. The Railers have lost three straight (0-2-1-0).Broadcast Coverage: Deibler Dental In-Arena Broadcast (99.3 FM) | Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyalsReading is back home to complete the five-game home stand with back-to-back games next weekend at Santander Arena, beginning next Fri., Mar. 29 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Maine. Friday’s game features 4-for-48 Family Four Packs, which are available for the remainder of Reading’s home games. Grab four burgers, four sodas and four tickets for $48. Royals group tickets start at $11 for groups of ten or more.Tied for the longest shootoutSaturday’s 12-round shootout bout with Newfoundland matched Reading’s longest-shootout ever. The only other time the Royals went 12 rounds was nearly 13 years to the day, Mar. 26, 2006, when Cody Rudkowsky denied 10 of 12 shootout attempts by Trenton in a 3-2 Royals win. Reading outdueled Trenton netminder Rejean Beauchemin. Malcolm MacMillan, Doug Christiansen and Shay Stevenson scored Reading’s shootout goals.Mar. 26, 2006 and Saturday’s shootout are the only times in team history a Royals skills competition has gone at least ten rounds. Coincidentally, the Growlers went 18 rounds and lost a week ago to Maine in the skills competition.  The own bed theory The Royals have been able to sleep a full night in their own beds in 12 of the last 13 nights since returning from a season-long six-game road trip. From Jan. 31 – Mar. 10, Reading players had nine full nights in their own houses.Sunday is also the conclusion of Reading’s fifth and final three-in-three of the season. Through the first 14 games, Reading is 7-6-0-1.When Reading has slept in their own beds for a full night before a home game, the Royals are 12-11-2-3. In home games where the Royals have had overnight travel to return to Reading, the squad is 0-4-0-0. Reading only has one more game this season where they travel overnight and play at home the next day (Apr. 6).Saturday night, Worcester travelled approximately 380 miles to The City of Positive Change following their game at Manchester.They did it againSimilarly to last season, the Railers, once at the bottom of the North Division, have returned to playoff relevance with a strong second half. After a loss Jan. 5, the Railers were 13-16-3-2, sitting last in the North and eight points behind Maine for the fourth and final North Division playoff spot. Since that time, the club has gone 17-8-3-3 to rise to fifth in the North and two points out of the fourth and final spot. Since Jan. 5, the Railers are scoring 3.26 goals a contest (31 GP), a significant upgrade from their average before the turnaround (2.25 GF/gm).Since Jan. 5, Ryan Hitchcock is the top rookie scorer in the ECHL with 36 points (15g, 28 GP).In 2017-18, the Railers made up 17 points in the final few months of the season on Wheeling to knock them out of the postseason. Worcester is tied for the fewest 1-goal regulation losses in the league with Reading, boasting a 14-1-4-5 mark in games decided by a tally. Head-to-head matchupsThe last time Reading and Worcester matched was Jan. 12 at the DCU Center, a 4-1 victory for the Railers. Frank DiChiara scored the Royals’ goal and has three points (2g) in five games against his former club. DiChiara played in 62 games last season with Worcester and managed nine goals and 23 points. This campaign, he tops Reading with seven man-up goals and has ripped 15 goals and 38 points, his most in a single season since junior hockey.Chris McCarthy tops the Royals in season-series points (4a) and Josh MacDonald has three goals to best Reading in the series. Adam Schmidt has three assists against the Railers. The 28-year-old attended The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and started his professional career with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks in 2013-14,  scoring one goal (3 pts.) in 14 games.Neither Jamie Phillips nor Andrew D’Agostini have matched the Railers this season. Branden Komm is 1-0-1-0 against the Railers, surrendering six goals. Worcester’s goaltending tandem of Mitch Gillam and Evan Buitenhuis have handled the five series matchups. Gillam was yanked in his last game at Santander Arena Oct. 14 (15 saves, 6 GA), but recovered to defeat Reading with 36 saves (3 GA) on Dec. 22. Buitenhuis has given up three goals in three games to Reading and is 2-0-0-0 this season vs. the Royals. Three active Railers – Tyler Barnes (3g), Matt Schmalz (3g) and Ryan Mackinnon (4a) – each top the Railers in series points with four. Scouting WorcesterFormer ECHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Barnes is in his fifth professional season and first in Worcester. He has 26 goals and 54 points, his best since his 2014-15 rookie campaign with the Walleye. His goal and point totals this campaign are tops on Worcester. Barnes, Matt Schmalz and Josh Holmstrom each have a series-best three goals and against Reading. Holmstrom has one overtime goal and a pair of game-winning strikes against the Royals this season.Barry Almeida (22g, 48 pts.) and Ryan Hitchcock (16g, 44 pts.) are next on the Railers in points and goals. Netminder Evan Buitenhuis hasn’t played since Mar. 8, leaving the door open for rookie Blake Wojtala to step in for three games and split time with Mitch Gillam. Wojtala won his first professional game with 26 saves (1 GA) vs. Norfolk, 6-1, on Mar. 9. He has surrendered four goals in three games and is 1-2-0-0. Mitch Gillam leads the Railers in games played (39) for the second straight season; the second-year netminder and Cornell graduate is 19-14-2-3 with a 2.90 goals against average and .911 save percentage. Booster Club Awards BanquetThe Reading Royals Booster Club Awards Banquet is Wed., Mar. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Stokesay Castle in Reading, PA. Get your tickets at the Booster Club’s Table (Section 118) at either of the next two Royals home games Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $35 for dinner and the awards ceremony. Royals Head Coach Kirk MacDonald and the Booster Club will present Royals players with end-of-season awards.Next Home GamesSun., Mar. 24 Scout Night: 4:00 p.m. vs. Worcester- Scout Night at the Royals- Pregame Scout activities 1:30pmFriday Night Hockey on Mar. 29 vs. Maine at 7:00 p.m.1) Royals host rival Maine for the final time in the regular season.2) Enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of Reading3) Meet Royals players after the game at DoubleTree's Cheers! Restaurant (701 Penn St.)4) Postgame ham shoot on the ice: make the shot, win a ham courtesy of Redner's.5) Four-for-$48 Family Four Pack: four burgers, four sodas, four tickets. Call Royals office for details 610-898-7825.

Sat., Mar. 30: Autism Awareness Night with player trading card giveaway at 7:00 p.m. vs. Wheeling, pres. by the Austism Society of Berks and Unending Promise1) Sensory-friendly game, with subdued atmosphere with music and lighting, plus quiet spaces in the arena 2) Player Trading Card set giveaway and postgame team autographs pres. Rieck's Printing3) Enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of Reading4) Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania will sell girl scout cookies on your way out of the arena postgame5) Special Austism Awareness jerseys6) Four-for-$48 Family Four Pack: four burgers, four sodas, four tickets. Call Royals office for details 610-898-7825.

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.