Game Day: Reading Returns from All-Star Break at Wheeling
Wheeling, WV - The Reading Royals (17-14-3-5, 42 pts., 5th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, return from the CCM/ECHL All-Star break with a rematch at the Wheeling Nailers (20-19-2-0, 42 pts., 5th Central) Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Saturday is Reading's only game of the weekend and the Royals return to home ice for three games next week, starting Wed., Jan. 30 vs. Maine at 7:00 p.m.
The Royals hosted the Nailers in the last game before the all-star break and fell, 4-3, despite three assists from Chris McCarthy. He leads the team with 29 assists and 38 points this season. Last campaign, McCarthy ranked second on the team with 59 points.
Reading has picked up points in three of five season series games against Wheeling (2-2-0-1).
Wheeling hosted Brampton Friday and received two goals and three points from Alec Butcher in a 6-5 loss. The Nailers are in the midst of a three-in-three with all games at Wesbanco Arena.
Next Home Games
Wed., Jan. 30, 7:00 p.m. vs. Maine: Postgame player autograph session, pres. by Rieck's Printing.
Sat., Feb. 2, 7:00 p.m. vs. Manchester: MARVEL Super Hero Night and Diamond Credit Union Wall of Honor Night. The Royals will wear Black Panther jerseys and honor broadcasters Mark Thompson and Pat Richards. The team will give away Thompson/Richards puck to the first 2,000 fans.
Sun., Feb. 3, 2:00 p.m. vs. Manchester: Family Four Pack (4 burgers, 4 sodas and 4 tickets for $44).
Listen to today's game on the Mixlr App and Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals, with pregame coverage starting 15 minutes before puck drop.
Season series update
The Royals earned points in the first three games of the season series against the Nailers but Wheeling has won the last two in regulation. In the last game Jan. 19, Josh MacDonald, Tyler Brown and Adam Schmidt scored in a 4-3 defeat. Reading is outscoring Wheeling, 15-13, through the first five games of the series. Reading has points in nine of the last ten games in West Virginia (7-1-2-0).
Chris McCarthy had three assists in the last series meeting (3a) to extend to a team-best six points (1g) in five games. While with Reading, he has generated 20 points (4g) in 21 games against the Nailers. Josh MacDonald tops Reading with three goals against Wheeling.
A two-goal, three-point effort from Troy Josephs in the last series meeting has made Wheeling's second-year forward the leading goal scorer (4g) and point producer (7 pts.) in the series. Zac Lynch is next in line with four points (4a) against Reading. Jordan Ruby blocked 33 shots (3 GA) in his first game of the series to beat Reading last time out. He is 3-0-0-0 against the Royals in his career. John Muse (2-2-0-0, 2.70 GAA, .912 save percentage) has started the other four games.
No Royals active netminder has played against the Nailers this season. Branden Komm, now in Lehigh Valley, is 1-1-0-0 with a 3.06 goals against average and .908 save percentage against the Nailers this season.
Scouting the Nailers
The Nailers are in game two of a season-long six game home stand and have a 10-9-1-0 mark at Wesbanco Arena this season. Troy Josephs tops Wheeling with 20 goals (33 pts.) and scored three points (1g) Friday. Zac Lynch (11g), a former Manchester Monarchs, scored Friday and tops the club with 41 points.
Wheeling has three active goaltenders - John Muse, Jordan Ruby and Matt O'Connor. Muse leads the pack with 17 GP (7-10-0-0, 3.33 GAA, .883 sv.%), while O'Connor (14 GP, 8-4-1-0, 2.86 GAA, .904 sv.%) and Ruby (9 GP, 4-2-1-0, 2.70 GAA, .907 sv.%) have slotted in with Muse earning a handful of recalls to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Nailers' top-scoring period is the 2nd (52 GF, 42 GA) and Wheeling struck three times against Reading in the middle frame during the Jan. 19 matchup. Friday, the Nailers scored twice in the second and allowed two to Brampton.
After the all-star break last season, the club went 14-13-5-1 and fell out of playoff positioning.
McCarthy hits milestone
Chris McCarthy has registered four points in his last two games to jump into a tie for fourth on Reading's all-time points list (144) with Ben Gordon. McCarthy has hit the mark in 148 games, making him 12th on the Royals' games played list. He is four games played away from matching former Royals forward and Head Coach Larry Courville. McCarthy is also one of eight Royals to score at least 50 goals and he needs four tallies to pass Gordon, Brad Rooney and Andrew Sarauer for fourth all-time.
McCarthy trails Ryan Cruthers (273), Olivier Labelle (256) and Yannick Tifu (222) for most points in Royals history.
Nearly even in West Virginia
The Royals and Nailers have played 87 times in West Virginia, with Reading winning 44 of them. If the Nailers win Saturday, each team will have won 44 games in matches contested in Wheeling. Reading has won seven of the last ten at Wesbanco Arena.
Meanwhile, the Royals have won 54 home games and lost 36 against the Nailers.
Brown scores first
Royals forward and player-assistant coach Tyler Brown scored his first goal of the season last Saturday vs. Wheeling, his first goal in 317 days. A force on the penalty kill and team's third line, Brown had last scored a water-bottle popping, game-winning strike vs. Brampton on Mar. 8, 2018. He scored five goals last season, his most in a campaign since 2014-15. Three of his five strikes came in the second half of the season.
The eighth-year professional is Reading's most-experienced player and has skated in 442 regular season games and 25 postseason games.
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