Game Day: Royals Defense Looks for Continued Mastery at Manchester
Manchester, NH - The Reading Royals (17-9-3-5, 42 pts., 3rd North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, have points in their first three games of the 2019 calendar year and visit the Manchester Monarchs (17-16-1-1, 36 pts., 5th North) Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Royals and Monarchs are playing their second game in the last week and Reading hosts Manchester in its next home game Jan. 16.
Since turning the page to 2019, Reading is 2-0-1-0 and has moved within three points of second-place Adirondack. Wednesday, the Royals downed the Thunder, 3-1, and Callum Booth blocked 27 shots. He has allowed one goal in his last two starts.
The Royals have earned at least a point in the first four series matchups (2-0-1-1), with Reading winning two of the last three. Last Friday, the Monarchs stung the Royals in overtime, 2-1, netting Manchester its first series win since October. Three of the four games have been decided by a goal.
The Monarchs suffered a loss at Adirondack in their last game Jan. 8. Leading 2-1 with fewer than three minutes left, Manchester surrendered consecutive goals in a 61-second span to fall, 3-2. The loss snapped a four-game losing streak. Manchester is perched three points back of Maine for the fourth and final North Division playoff spot and also sits three points ahead of last place.
Saturday marks the end of the first half of the regular season for Reading. The Royals are at the Worcester Railers Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Next home games
The Royals host three home games next week, starting Wed., Jan. 16 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Manchester with postgame player autographs, pres. by Rieck's Printing.
On Fri., Jan. 18 at 7:00 p.m., the Royals battle Brampton on Pucks 'N Paws Night with the annual wiener dog races.
Sat., Jan. 19 against Wheeling (7:00 p.m.) is a Family Four Pack game, Mascot Mania and Reading's Pediatric Cancer Awareness game with a mini-THON dance party. Get four burgers, four sodas and four sodas for $48. The first 2,500 fans will receive a PA Lottery Voucher, pres., by the PA Lottery. Plus, enter for a chance to win a 2017 Toyota Camry, courtesy of AutoRide of Reading. After the game, join Royals players at the DoubleTree across the street for a party at Cheers! Restaurant.
Listen to today's game on the Mixlr App and Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals, with pregame coverage starting 15 minutes before puck drop.
Callum in the zone
Netminder Callum Booth has allowed one goal in the last 125:07, providing the Carolina Hurricanes draft pick with back-to-back wins. Despite not earning a "shutout" over that span, it has moved him to 7-2-0-1 with a 2.68 goals against average and .903 save percentage.
On New Year's Eve at Wheeling, he was perfect over the last half of the game. He followed that performance up with two perfect periods vs. Norfolk Jan. 4 before being lifted in the third for Andrew D'Agostini. In his first start in five days, the second-year professional made his first 25 saves and gave up a goal in the final two minutes to John Edwardh.
Booth has one career shutout, coming last campaign vs. Cincinnati when he played for Florida.
Combined between the ECHL and AHL, Booth possesses a career record of 32-10-1-3.
All-around at home
Reading is riding a seven-game point streak at Santander Arena (6-0-0-1), last sustaining a regulation home defeat Nov. 30 vs. Kalamazoo. As a whole, Reading has points in 12 of 14 contests (10-2-1-1) since that loss. The Royals are 8-6-2-2 at Santander Arena. Over the seven-game home point streak, Reading has outscored foes, 27-13.
Of note, the six Reading wins at home since the start of December have all been multi-goal victories. Reading's lone defeat at home over that span was a 5-4 shootout loss vs. Newfoundland.
One-goal or tied in the third
Eight of the last nine games between Reading and Manchester have been one-goal contests or tied in the third period. Of these, Reading has taken one this season and a pair overall. The close nature of these matchups has in part been due to netminding, with Reading netminders allowing 2.9 goals/game over those nine contests. On the other side, Manchester has played Charles Williams in seven of the nine. Williams owns a 9-0-0-2 record against the Royals in 13 career games and he has made 117 straight saves in the third period or overtime against Reading. In the 13 games, the second-year goaltender Williams has given up one third-period or overtime goal on 154 shots (.994 sv. %).
Overall, nine of Manchester's last 11 games have been decided by one goal (4-5-0-0 mark).
Scouting the Monarchs
Nic Pierog scored twice against the Royals in the last series matchup to secure a 2-1 overtime win, pushing the rookie forward to a team-best 16 goals and 27 points. Thirteen of Pierog's goals have come at even strength.
Spencer Watson ranks second on the team in goals (12) and points (25).
Manchester has gone to the power play the fewest times in the league (111) and the Monarchs have been short-handed 111 times, also the fewest in the circuit. On the season, Manchester's power play ranks 25th at 12.6% and 19th at 82.0%.
The Monarchs tied a season-high four-game winning streak before Tuesday's regulation loss at Adirondack, with Charles Williams earning making three of four starts (3-1-0-0 record). He has recorded an 8-5-0-1 mark, 2.63 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Backup Cole Kehler has surrendered eight goals in three games.
Linemates Chris McCarthy(1g, 7 pts.), Alex Roos (3g, 5 pts.) and Josh MacDonald (2g, 4 pts.) are Reading's top-three scorers against Manchester this season. In the last matchup, McCarthy assisted Roos for Reading's only goal in the 2-1 overtime loss.
That line has generated Reading's last six goals against the Monarchs.
Andrew D'Agostini made 33 saves against Manchester last time out (2 GA, OTL) in his only series start. Callum Booth is 1-0-0-0 against Manchester this season.
Cory Ward bests Manchester with two goals and four points in the series. He and Nic Pierog are the only Monarchs with multiple goals in the series. Blue liner Daniil Miromanov has three points (1g) in his first two series games.
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