Game Day: Royals Hit Halfway Mark of Season at Worcester
Worcester, MA - The Reading Royals (17-10-3-5, 42 pts., 3rd North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, complete the first half of the regular season Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against the Worcester Railers (14-16-3-2, 33 pts., 7th North). Worcester has won each of the first two season-series meetings in Massachusetts, but both games have been tied in the third period. Reading owns an even 1-1-1-1 record in the six-game series against Worcester.
The road contest comes on the heels of three games at Santander Arena next week, including Wiener Dog Races next Fri., Jan. 18, plus a Family Four Pack game and Mascot Mania Sat., Jan. 19. The week begins Wed., Jan. 16 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Manchester with a postgame autograph session, pres. by Rieck's Printing.
Friday at Manchester, Callum Booth blocked 35 shots in a 3-1 loss. Frank DiChiara scored the Royals' lone goal.
The Railers last played Jan. 6 and wrapped up a South Division road trip with a 3-2 win over Greenville.
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.
Halfway mark assessment
The Royals have 17 wins and 42 points through the first 35 games, putting the team on track to finish with one of the best first-half performances in team history.
Last campaign, the Royals had 40 points through 36 games (19-15-2-0). Reading has made the playoffs in nine straight seasons and here's how the team has fared at the halfway point in those campaigns.
Halfway point, last 9 seasons
2009-10: 20-13-3 (43 pts.)
2010-11: 23-10-3 (49 pts.)
2011-12: 15-15-6 (36 pts.)
2012-13: 26-8-2 (54 pts.) ** team won 2013 Kelly Cup
2013-14: 22-13-1 (45 pts.)
2014-15: 21-13-1 (43 pts.)
2015-16: 17-14-5 (39 pts.)
2016-17: 21-13-2 (44 pts.)
2017-18: 19-15-2 (40 pts.)
The 2012-13 team had the best first-half performance in team history. Three teams in Reading history have had at least 48 points at the halfway mark (2004-05, 2010-11, 2012-13). Last campaign, in Kirk MacDonald's first season as Head Coach, the Royals went 20-9-7-0 in the second half. Reading has finished above .500 in 14 of its 17 seasons during the second half.
The Royals is 1-1-1-1 in the four previous meetings against Worcester and has been slightly outscored, 14-12. The power play has been the Royals' boon, coming through on five of 16 chances (31.3%). Chris McCarthy tops active Royals with four points (4a) in the series. Linemate Josh MacDonald has a squad-best three goals against Worcester. The fourth-year professional scored twice in the last series matchup Dec. 22, a 5-3 Worcester win.
Tyler Barnes netted a pair of goals in the last series matchup and leads the Railers with three goals and four points against Reading. Josh Holmstrom has three goals in the series, including an overtime-winning goal in the season opener Oct. 13. Evan Buitenhuis is 1-0-0-0 against Reading this season, winning, 3-2, in a shootout with 33 saves Nov. 14.
The Railers have been off since Jan. 6, when the club snapped a four-game losing streak at Greenville, 3-2. The three-goal output marked the first time in five games the club scored at least three goals. Worcester has generated at least four goals in six games and ranks last in the league scoring 2.26 goals per game. Defensively, the Railers surrender 2.89 goals a contest.
Like last season, when the club overcame a 17-point deficit clinch a postseason spot, the Railers have relied on one-goal victories (5-1-1-2 this season). Last campaign, the Railers marched to an 18-5-4-4 mark in games decided by one (fourth-most wins).
Tyler Barnes scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season Sunday at Greenville and the forward tops the Railers with 23 points. Blue liner Mike Cornell is the team's leading assist man (16). Barry Almeida (10g) has 16 points and is the only other Railers player with double-digit goals.
With Mitch Gillam, the team's CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic selection, recalled to AHL Bridgeport, Evan Buitenhuis is next in line. The Hamilton College graduate has accumulated a 5-7-2-1 mark, 2.33 goals against average and .926 save percentage in his rookie campaign.
Five Royals players - Chris McCarthy, Josh MacDonald, Adam Schmidt, Frank Hora and Nick Luukko - are prepared to skate in their 36th game of the season Saturday as Reading hits the halfway mark. At this point last season, five Royals had also played every game of the first half, but only two, Nolan Zajac and Matt Willows, finished the season with 72 games played.
In club history, 13 players have skated in all 72 games.
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