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Game 49 Preview: Reading at Wheeling

Monday, February 17th
Game 49 Preview: Reading at Wheeling

Schedule gets busy, Royals seek seventh straight win  

Wheeling, WV – The Reading Royals (29-14-5-0, 63 pts., 2nd North) have won a season-best six straight games entering Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. contest at the Wheeling Nailers (23-20-5-0, 51 pts., 5th Central). Watch tonight’s game on BCTV (Ch. 15 Comcast, Ch. 19 Service Electric) and listen on mixlr.com/readingroyals.The win streak started Jan. 31 at Worcester and includes a come-from-behind, 5-3 win vs. Wheeling Feb. 8 in front of 6,632 fans at Santander Arena. Reading’s momentum continued last week with two wins, both by multiple goals, Friday at Brampton and Sunday against the Railers. In Sunday’s 3-0 shutout, Brayden Low scored his team-best fourth game-winning goal and Kirill Ustimenko improved to 10-1-1-0 in his last 12 starts with 33 saves.There are 45 days remaining in Reading’s regular season and the team will play games on 24 of them, starting Wednesday with four games in five days. The Royals play eight games against six unique opponents over the next 12 days.The season series’ final three games are in the Mountain State and has been home dominant; Reading went 4-0-0-0 at Santander Arena and is 0-2-0-0 at Wesbanco Arena.Reading returns home Fri., Feb. 21 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Newfoundland and Sat., Feb. 22 vs. Brampton at 7:00 p.m. Friday’s game includes a free beer fest at tasting stations on the concourse until 8:00 p.m., plus a chance to meet Flyers alumni Brad Marsh, Jim Watson and Riley Cote ahead of the Mar. 28 Royals Alumni vs. Flyers Alumni Game with a team trading card giveaway, presented by Outten. Saturday’s game is Marvel Night with a Spider-Man Meet-and-Greet, Marvel poster giveaways for the first 1,000 fansand one fan has a chance to win four first-class flight tickets and a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando if a Royals player gets a hat trick (pres. by Berkshire Travel).Broadcast coverage: Watch on BCTV (Ch. 15 Comcast, Ch. 19 Service Electric) and ECHL.tv. Listen at mixlr.com/readingroyals.Defensive grooveReading is 9-1-1-0 over the last 11 games and has outscored foes, 45-19, in those games. Felix Sandström and Kirill Ustimenko have allowed three goals or fewer in each of the 11; Sandström is 3-1-0-0 (8 GA) and Ustimenko is 6-0-1-0 (11 GA).Ustimenko recorded a 33-save blanking Sunday to tie Sandström for Reading’s team lead in shutouts (2).The 11 straight allowing three or fewer has improved the team goals against to 3.00/game. Prior to the 11 games, the Royals were ranked 17th in the circuit surrendering 3.38 goals/contest.Taller and biggerReading’s 16-skater lineup Sunday vs. Worcester featured eight players heavier than 200 pounds and 11 taller than 6-feet. At one point in the first period, the puck moved from Brayden Low (6-1, 219) to Hayden Hodgson (6-2, 215) and eventually Matthew Strome (6-4, 210). In the same sequence, Eric Knodel (6-6, 225) made a defensive line change for David Drake (6-6, 195).Drake and Knodel are Reading’s two tallest players, while points leader Frank DiChiara bullies opponents at 238 lbs.A Royals win would…Move Reading to 10-9-3-0 on the road…be the seventh straight overall and fifth consecutive vs. Wheeling…Improve Reading to 46 wins all-time at Wheeling (enter the game at 45 wins, 46 losses).Single-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 (32)Points: DiChiara (48)PIM: Mitchell (106)+/-: Knodel (25)Nailers leadersGoals: Cam Brown (16)Assists: Cam Brown (21)Points: Cam Brown (37)PIM: Hawkins (34)+/-: Titcomb (7)Two seasons coming In the last meeting between the clubs Feb. 8, a 5-3 Royals win, Thomas Ebbing fought Wheeling’s Renars Krastenbergs in the opening frame, the first fighting majors assessed in a head-to-head matchup since Dec. 2, 2017 at Wheeling.Between those two games, the teams played 20 straight without fighting each other, the longest stretch ever in the 186 all-time matchups. The Royals have bouted 112 times in 186 games against the Nailers, the most fighting majors either team has against any opponent ever.Former Royals Bryant Molle (10) and Malcolm MacMillan (9) lead the “rivalry list” for most fighting majors against the Nailers, while former Wheeling enforcer Patrick McGrath earned 12 “tillies” against Reading in his career.Reading has been credited with 17 fighting majors this season and the Nailers have 12.Scouting the NailersWheeling is 6-2-0-0 over the last eight games, including a 6-1 win in their last game Saturday against Ft. Wayne. Despite trailing Ft. Wayne and Indy for the Central Division’s fourth and final playoff spot, the Nailers have played four fewer games than each and “controls their destiny” at this point.Leading goals (16), assists (21) and points (37) man Cam Brown has moved to T-15th on the Nailers all-time points list (127) in his third season with the squad. He’s never led the team in points in a single season. Over his last 11 games, Brown has eight goals and 13 points to top the squad.Alex D’Orio leads the team with 25 games played; he’s 12-10-2-0 with a 3.42 goals against average and .892 save percentage. Second option Jordan Ruby made 39 saves in a 6-1 win vs. Ft. Wayne Feb. 15 to improve to 6-6-3-0 (3.05 GAA, .907 sv.%). Ruby tallied a career-best 46 saves vs. Cincinnati (4 GA) in defeat Jan. 4, bettering his previous best of 43 saves (2 GA) which he set against Reading last campaign. Ruby is 2-1-2-1 in his career when he’s stopped at least 40 shots.Season-series leaders Royals-Nailers head-to-head leaders this seasonRoyals goals – Low (3)                       Nailers goals –  Scarfo (3)Royals assists – Swavely (7)              Nailers assists – Powell (4)Royals points – Swavely (8)               Nailers points – Scarfo (5)Royals PIM – Low (6)                        Nailers PIM – Butcher (12)Royals +/- – Knodel (8)                      Nailers +/- – Scarfo (3)Upcoming Home Games: royalshockey.com/promotions Fri., Feb. 21 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Newfoundland (Trading card giveaway, Flyers alumni at game)Beer Tasting (Free Beer fans 21+ with purchase of a game ticket) | Meet Flyers alumni Brad Marsh, Jim Watson and Riley Cote ahead of the  Mar. 28 Royals Alumni vs. Flyers Alumni Game | Trading Card Giveaway presented by Outten |  Purple Goes Green Presented by Berks Nature | $1 Frozen Treats | Kid’s Report Card: Bring by your report card that has an ‘A’ on it and earn a free kids ticket for a future gameSat., Feb. 22 at 7:00  p.m. vs. Brampton (Marvel Night)Spider-Man Meet-and-Greet | Marvel Poster giveaway for the first 1,000 fans| Girl Scout Night  | Abilities in Motion Night | Special Spider-Man Theme Jerseys | One fan has a chance to win four first-class flight tickets and a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando if a Royals player gets a hat trick (pres. by Berkshire Travel)Wed., Feb. 26 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Maine Free Souvenir Cup Refills at the concession standsSun.,  Mar. 8 at 4:00 p.m. vs. Brampton (First Responders Game, Pres. by Met-Ed)Game pres. by Met-Ed - the Reading Fire/Police squads face the Allentown squads before the game at 12:30 p.m. - 1 ticket includes admission to both games |  $1 Hot Dogs, Sodas and Nachos | Touch a Truck Event for Kids | Faith & Family Night - Church Group Rates Available | Heaven’s Thunder music performance | Last Postgame Party of the season with players at Cheers! Restaurant at the DoubleTree Hotel.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.