Autism Awareness Night Tonight vs. Wheeling
Reading, PA - The Reading Royals (30-28-4-6, 70 pts., T-6th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, host the Wheeling Nailers (30-29-6-2, 68 pts., 6th Central) on Autism Awareness Night Saturday at 7:00 p.m. The Royals have two home games remaining this season and both are on Saturdays; on Apr. 6, Reading concludes the 2018-19 regular season on FANdemonium vs. Adirondack at 7:00 p.m. There are four games remaining in the 2018-19 season. Reading is on a four-game point streak (3-0-0-1) and is three points back of the fourth and final North Division playoff spot.
Friday, Reading blasted Maine, 6-2, dropping six consecutive bombs on goaltender Chris Nell to poach the netminder from cage. Corey Mackin scored his first professional goal to even the score and Jacob Graves provided go-ahead, first-frame strike. Michael Huntebrinker, Frank Hora and Mackin each had one goal and two assists. Tyler Brown generated his ninth goal of the season and Reading scored two strikes in every period. Jamie Phillips blocked 15 shots in the third period and 36 in the game for his most saves in a Royals win. He has started seven straight for Reading and is expected to get the call Saturday.
The Royals have won 99 games all-time against Wheeling (99-63-17) the most wins against any opponent ever. Saturday is the 180th all-time meeting between the traditional rivals, 33 more times than Reading faced their second-most common foe, Trenton.
In October, the Royals became the Nailers' most-played foe in Wheeling history, surpassing Johnstown. Reading has beaten Wheeling 54 times in the 90 regular season games contested at Santander Arena.
Here's what's going on at Santander Arena tonight:
Sat., Mar. 30: Autism Awareness Night with player trading card giveaway at 7:00 p.m. vs. Wheeling, pres. by the Autism Society of Berks and Unending Promise
1) 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 Printing
3) Enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of Reading
4) Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania will sell girl scout cookies on your way out of the arena postgame
5) Special Autism Awareness jerseys
6) Four-for-$48 Family Four Pack: four burgers, four sodas, four tickets. Call Royals office for details 610-898-7825.
Wheeling scored four goals in the second period Friday at home vs. Fort Wayne to win, 6-4. The Nailers play three of their final five regular season games at home.
Broadcast Coverage: Deibler Dental In-Arena Broadcast (99.3 FM) | Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals
Royals group tickets start at $11 for groups of ten or more.
First goals for some newer faces
Corey Mackin and Jacob Graves scored their first Reading goals to provide the Royals a lead in the opening period Friday. Mackin's first pro goal gives him four points (1g) in eight games. Mackin scored 43 goals and 101 points in 149 games for Ferris State University from 2015-19. He was signed to an amateur tryout contract (ATO) on March 8th and the Royals then signed him to an ECHL standard player contract (SPC) a few days later.
Graves jolted his first strike since November when he played with Norfolk. He is signed to an NHL contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Graves was traded by the Arizona Coyotes to Philadelphia on Jan. 14 in a trade that sent forward Jordan Weal to the Coyotes in exchange for Graves and a 2019 sixth round pick.
Looking for 100
The 180th Royals-Nailers regular season meeting provides Reading another shot to earn its 100th series victory. Reading's 99 wins trumps the 78 the club earned against Elmira and 75 vs. Trenton. Reading has won 10 of 18 games against Wheeling since Kirk MacDonald became Head Coach (10-5-2-1).
Over the last five seasons, the Royals and Nailers have each won 24 regular season games against each other. The Nailers held the advantage in the first three seasons of that, but the Royals are 15-7-3-1 since the start of 2016-17.
Of note, the Royals have 674 wins in their history and 252 have been against either Wheeling, Trenton or Elmira (37%).
Head to head
The Royals are 3-3-0-1 against the Nailers this campaign and a Saturday win would even the season series at four wins each. Reading started off with points in the first three series games (2-0-0-1), but Wheeling has rattled off wins in four of the last five.
In the last matchup, Feb. 13, Chris McCarthy tallied in the first and Tyler Brown scored at :24 of the third to tie the game, but the Nailers scored three unanswered to down the Royals, 5-2. Cam Brown scored three points (1g) and he is currently in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Jordan Ruby made a professional-high 43 stops to best Branden Komm (18 saves, 4 GA). Ruby is 2-0-0-1 this campaign against Reading (2.45 GAA, .938 sv.%) and 4-0-0-1 in his career.
McCarthy tops all players with 11 points (3g) in the series. Over the last two seasons, he has 21 points (4g) in 17 games against Wheeling. Royals Captain Nick Luukko has faced Wheeling 32 times over four seasons, tallying one goal and four assists. Nailers Captain Dan Fick scored the game-winning goal in the last meeting Feb. 13 and he has three goals (8 pts.) in 35 games ever against Reading. Cedric Lacroix is the active Nailers series leader in goals (4g, 1a) and Zac Lynch has six points (6a) to top all active Wheeling players.
Jamie Phillips has never faced Wheeling in three professional seasons, while Andrew D'Agostini is 1-0-0-0 against the Nailers this campaign (5 GA) and 5-2-0-0 against Wheeling all time.
Since Jan. 14, the Nailers have won 11 of 31 games (11-14-4-2) to fall out of playoff positioning and dip to sixth in the Central. The club's goal differential has slumped to a -11 over that span (97 GF, 108 GA) and the Nailers are allowing 3.48 goals a contest since mid-January. With former Royals goaltender John Muse in the AHL for most of the second half, Wheeling has relied on Jordan Ruby (12-8-1-2, 2.81 GAA, .911 sv.%) and Matt O'Connor (10-6-3-0, 3.08 GAA, .901 sv.%) to carry the load.
Pittsburgh native and Robert Morris University Zac Lynch has posted career highs of 47 assists and 63 points in his third professional campaign. Cedric Lacroix has 21 goals to top active Nailers. Yushiroh Hirano assisted in the last series game Feb. 13 vs. Reading and is second on the team with 52 points (18g).
Regular Season Finale
Sat., Apr. 6: FANdemonium with prize giveaways at 7:00 p.m. vs. Adirondack
1) The Royals will hand out prizes to fans at every stoppage in play!
2) Season Ticket Holder jersey off our backs
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