Game Day: Royals at Thunder Looking for Season-Series Edge
Glens Falls, NY - The Reading Royals (19-14-3-5, 46 pts., T-4th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, have won back-to-back games and look to gain the edge in the season series at the Adirondack Thunder (24-15-3-2, 53 pts., 2nd North) Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Royals and Thunder have split the first six meetings of the season series, with Reading earning a 3-2-0-1 record. At Cool Insuring Arena, the Royals have taken two straight and picked up points in all three road meetings. The Royals have won three straight games against Adirondack, outscoring the Thunder, 8-3.
The teams play each other 12 times this season and have two more battles at Santander Arena - Feb. 24 and Apr. 6.
Reading last played Adirondack Jan. 9, with the Royals taking a 3-1 win.
Chris McCarthy earned the Deibler Dental First Star of the game Wednesday vs. Maine, scoring one goal and two points to help the Royals win, 3-1.
Since enduring a three-game losing streak, Adirondack has won consecutive games and earned their most-lopsided decision of the season Wednesday, 6-0, at Manchester. Mike Szmatula pounded two goals and leads the squad with 17.
Friday's battle is the first Royals game of a three-in-three, with the final two battles coming Saturday and Sunday at Santander Arena.
Next Home Games
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.
Andrew D'Agostini is the first Royals goaltender ever to earn at least a point in his first six Reading decisions, netting a 5-0-1-0 record, 2.33 goals against average and .926 save percentage. He made 22 saves on 23 shots Wednesday in the win vs. Maine. In seven games played, he has allowed three or fewer goals six times, with the lone exception coming in a 6-5 shootout win Jan. 26 vs. Wheeling.
In 55 ECHL games, D'Agostini is 26-18-3-3 with a 3.23 goals against average and .896 save percentage. He played for Brampton from 2015-18.
Hora number 1
Returned on loan from Lehigh Valley Wednesday, defenseman Frank Hora scored his first goal of the season and second career tally to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. It had been slightly more than a calendar year since Hora's first pro goal, which was also Reading's first goal of the game in a 5-1 loss to Brampton Jan. 21, 2017. A second-year professional from Cheektowaga, NY, Hora has scored one goal and eight points this season for Reading.
The Royals start their second three-in-three of the season Friday. In the first iteration, Dec. 14-16, the team swept the Allen Americans with wins over three straight days. Andrew D'Agostini won all three and allowed seven goals to become the eighth Royals goaltender ever with wins in his first three decisions.
Reading has five instances this season where the team will play on three consecutive days. Since Kirk MacDonald became Royals Head Coach, Reading is 14-9-1-0 in three-in-threes.
Friday's game vs. Adirondack is the first of 14 games the Royals will play in February, making it the team's busiest month of the season (14 games, 28 days). Two of the eight road games are a mid-month jaunt to Allen for a Texas back-to-back against the Americans. The Royals are 3-0-0-0 against the Mountain Division's last-place team this season. Adirondack and Manchester are Reading's most-popular opponents in the calendar's shortest month, with three games against each. The Royals and Maine will meet only once in February. Reading also has matchups with Norfolk, Wheeling and Brampton.
Scouting the Thunder
Including the meeting Jan. 9, the Thunder have endured a 4-6-0-0 stretch that has kept them at second in the North Division. Adirondack's only wins have come when the squad has pounded opponents for at least four goals. That trend continued Wednesday with a 6-0 win vs. Manchester.
Captain James Henry has ten goals and a team-best 38 points this season. Mike Szmatula leads the pack with 17 goals, trailed closely by Conor Riley (16) and John Edwardh (15).
Evan Cormier was recently sent down to the Thunder from Binghamton (AHL) and Cormier is 0-2-0-0, allowing seven goals in two games. Alex Sakellaropoulos has posted a 14-4-2-1 record, 2.36 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
Goals from Adam Schmidt (1g, 1a), Frank DiChiara and Josh MacDonald drove Reading to a 3-1 win in the last series battle Jan. 9. Reading went 2-for-4 on the power play, the club's best man-up effort of the season vs. Adirondack, to move to 4-for-21 the series. Adirondack has scored four power-play goals on 23 opportunities.
Royals leading scorer Chris McCarthy has five points (1g) in the series, tops among active Royals. Adam Schmidt is one of four Royals to score twice against the Thunder, but the other three have been called up to Lehigh Valley (Huntebrinker, Krushelnyski, MacDonald).
All of the Thunder's leading series scorers are expected to be available for Friday's game. Mike Szamatula and John Edwardh each have two goals and a team-high five points. Dennis Kravchenko (2g) and Matias Cleland (4a) are next in line with four points. Conor Riley is in his third season in Glens Falls and leads all players with three goals vs. Reading.
The Royals solved Alex Sakellaropolous in the Dec. 1 battle, scoring twice against him in the third period to drop him to 2-1-0-0 in the season series (2.37 GAA, .925 sv.%). Cam Johnson and Dillon Kelley (both currently off the active roster) have also taken series losses.
Reading has used four goalies against the Thunder - Callum Booth (2-0-0-0), Nick Niedert (1-0-0-0), Branden Komm (2 GP, 0-0-0-0) and Angus Redmond (0-2-0-0).
Young coach success
Kirk MacDonald (35 years old) and Alex Loh (34) are two of the six youngest coaches in the ECHL and each have put their teams in position to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs this season. Their age speaks to a recent trend of young coaches having strong success in the ECHL. The youngest, Spiro Anastas (33), coaches South Carolina (2nd place in South Division). Idaho's Neil Graham is also 33 years old and the Steelheads are a top-five team in the Western Conference. Newfoundland's John Snowden is 37 years old and coaches the North Division's first-place team.
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