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Game 45 Preview: Atlanta at Reading

Thursday, February 6th
Game 45 Preview: Atlanta at Reading

Wine tastings for Ladies Night Friday ahead of Saturday’s Pink in the Rink

Reading, PA – The ice is pink and the Reading Royals (25-14-5-0, 55 pts., 2nd North) are a season-best 11 games above hockey .500 as the team hosts the Atlanta Gladiators (19-24-1-1, 40 pts., 5th North) for the only time this season on Ladies Night Friday at 7:00 p.m.  The game kicks off a jam-packed back-to-back for the Royals, who host Wheeling for Pink in the Rink Saturday at 7:00 p.m., pres. by Adams & Associates, Alvernia University and Lamar Advertising.Today’s promotions: (Ladies Night/Wine Tasting)Free Wine Tasting on the concourse with Deerfoot Vineyards, Black River Farms and RoseLawn Bistro | College ID Night: $5 tickets with valid college ID at box office| $1 SmoothiesAwards with no “rookie” biasTwo Royals rookies, G Kirill Ustimenko (Warrior Hockey Goaltender of the Month) and F Trevor Gooch (Inglasco Player of the Week) were awarded earlier the week for star performances to close out January. Ustimenko was reassigned to the Phantoms by the Flyers Thursday. In a weekend sweep Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Worcester, Gooch scored five goals (6 pts.) and Ustimenko allowed three goals in two games. Ustimenko is the sixth Reading netminder (and first rookie) to win Goaltender of the Month.     The win on Jan. 31 was the 100th of Head Coach Kirk MacDonald’s career; he aims for his first vs. Atlanta since becoming Head Coach Friday. It’s been 1,181 days since the teams last dueled; Nov. 13, 2016 at Santander Arena when MacDonald was a Royals assistant.A Royals win would…Improve Reading to 18-5-2-0 at  home…Give Reading an 11-2-0-0 record on Fridays…Be the third straight…Give  Reading a 6-1-1-0 record over the last eight games…Improve Reading to 7-3-0-0 outside the North Division.Broadcast coverage: Listen on the Deibler Dental In-Arena Broadcast at 99.3 FM and mixlr.com/readingroyals |  Watch on ECHL.tvSingle-game tickets and mini-plans are on sale by visiting royalshockey.com/promotions, calling 610-898-7825 and visiting Santander Arena and The Weidenhammer Box Office at 700 Penn Street, Reading, PA.Royals leadersGoals: Cuddemi (21)Assists: DiChiara (30)Points: DiChiara (43)PIM: Mitchell (106)+/-: Knodel (18)Gladiators leadersGoals: Asselin (20)Assists: Neiley (25)Points: Neiley (39)PIM: Malatesta (67)+/-: Solovyev (3)FriYAYFriday is the Royals’ winningest day of the week this season; the squad is 10-2-0-0 on Fridays. All time, Reading is 207-140-40 on Friday games.Felix Sandström notched Reading’s first Friday win of the 2019-20 season, making 26 saves (5GA) in the season opener against the Newfoundland Growlers. The 2019-20 season is pres. by Tower Health UPMC Health Plan.Sandström is 2-1-0-0 on Fridays this season and recorded a shutout on Fri. Dec. 27 with 23 saves against Maine. Kirill Ustimenko, now in Lehigh Valley, had an 8-1-0-0 record on Fridays.In the Fri., Jan. 31 victory at Worcester, Trevor Gooch tallied his first pro hat trick and four-point effort.Tommy Degerman scored Reading’s first-ever goal on Fri., Oct. 12, 2001 against the Trenton Titans in a 3-1 loss.All-time seriesReading is 12-7-1 in the all-time series against the Atlanta Gladiators. This is the first time the teams will meet during the Kirk MacDonald era and the second time in the past five years.Last time the teams played, the Royals fell to the Gladiators, 7-6 in the final second of regulation time when Blake Kessel tucked away his second goal of the game past Mark Dekanich to break a 6-6 tie on Nov. 13, 2016. The Royals have not lost in the last second of regulation since then.Current Royals F Steven Swavely tallied a goal midway through the third period to tie the game 5-5. Swavely earned two points (1g, 1a). Royals assistant coach Nick Luukko, then a Reading blueliner, notched the team’s sixth tally.Scouting Atlanta The Atlanta Gladiators sit at fifth in the South Division and 22 overall with a record of 19-24-1-1 (40pts). This season the Gladiators took home at least one point in only one third of their road games, going 6-14-0-1 this season. Over the last five years the Gladiators are 1-0-0-0 at Santander Arena. The team is entering the weekend off of a 9-3 loss to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Feb. 2. In the game Atlanta tallied 43 PIM to Greenville’s four. The Gladiators hold this season’s ECHL record for most minors given in a single game with 14 (Dec. 21 v. Orlando, 8-2 L). Rookie Samuel Asselin leads the Gladiators in goals (20). Asselin tallied his sole shorthanded goal of the season in the loss to Greenville on Feb. 2, tying the game at 1-1 midway through the first. Eric Neiley leads Atlanta in assists and points (25a, 39pts). The Gladiators last faced off against the Royals on Nov. 13, 2016 Neiley notched an assist and generated four shots on goal. The team is tied with the Allen Americans for this season’s ECHL record for shots on goal in a single game with 58. There are four rookies in the top eight of the team’s points leaderboard. Asselin leads Gladiator rookies with 37 points. He is followed by Tommy Marchin (16g, 34pts). Scott Conway (23pts) and Dante Hannoun (19pts) round out the top eight. Chris Nell made 22 saves in Atlanta’s loss to Greenville on Feb. 2 (9 GA). He has an 8-11-1-1 record overall this season and has gone 7-7-1-1 for the Gladiators. Nell holds a 4.04 goals against average and a .874 save percentage.Callum Booth has played three games for Atlanta this season with a 1-2-0-0 record for the team. He holds an overall goals against average of 3.05 and a .919 save percentage. Booth played 16 games for the Royals in the 2018-19 regular season and had a 9-6-0-1 record for Reading. Period stat of noteThe Royals hold this season’s ECHL record for shots in the first period (25), accomplished Nov. 3 in a 1-0 shutout win over Adirondack. The Gladiators have set the bar for shots in the second, with 30. Upcoming Home Games: royalshockey.com/promotions Sat., Feb. 8 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Wheeling (Pink in the Rink)Royals play on pink ice with Fleece Blanket Giveaway to the first 1,500 fans | Breast Cancer Awareness Jerseys$1 Pink Rose Draft Cider | Doubleheader: 1 ticket also gets you admission to the Alvernia Women’s Hockey Game at 2:00 p.m.Sun., Feb. 16 at 4:00 p.m. vs. Worcester (Kids Club Game)Last free postgame skate of the season, presented by Body Zone |  $1 Hot Dog, $1 Soda & $1 Nacho Concession Special Pricing | Game Included Kids Club Packages presented by Applebee’s, Schuykill Valley Sports and YMCA of Reading and Berks County (Sign Ups Available)About the RoyalsThe Royals are in their 19th ECHL season and are proudly affiliated with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Royals won the Kelly Cup in 2013, have made the playoffs 14 times, and are four-time division champions. The Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA), founded in 1996, owns the Royals and oversees operations at Santander Arena and the Santander Arena Performing Arts Center.Listen to all Royals broadcasts at Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals or by downloading the Mixlr App from the App Store or Google Play. All Royals away games are broadcasted on BCTV (Ch. 15 Comcast, Ch. 19 Service Electric) and Mixlr.