Royals at Frequently-Seen Growlers for Back-To-Back
St. John's, NL - The Reading Royals (13-5-3-0, 29 pts., 1st North) and Newfoundland Growlers (13-8-0-0, 26 pts., 3rd North) spar for the fourth time in the last 9 days, kicking off a back-to-back at Mile One Centre Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The clubs play on back-to-back days, already the eighth and ninth meetings of the 14-game series. Reading has won four of the first seven meetings (4-1-2-0) against the Growlers. The last time the clubs faced off, Nov. 22-24 at Santander Arena, the Royals earned five of a possible six points.
The teams haven't played at Mile One Centre since opening weekend, when Reading went 1-1-1-0 against the Growlers. Reading has the most regular season wins of any team vs. Newfoundland (8-5-3-2) since the Growlers joined the ECHL in 2018-19.
The next six games effectively add up to a "fight to stay in first" for Reading; the Royals are three points ahead of the Growlers beginning the back-to-back and take on second-place Brampton in four consecutive meetings from Dec. 7-14.
Reading jumped to first place in the North Division with a pair of simultaneous runs; the team registered at least a point in nine straight games from Nov. 9-29 (7-0-2) while sustaining a ten-game home point streak (Oct. 20-Nov. 29).
Both squads recently completed season-long home and road trips; the Royals play the first of four straight on the road Tuesday after hosting the last six. The Royals fell, 7-4, Saturday vs. Toledo to complete the home stand with a 4-1-1-0 mark. Two of those wins were against the Growlers Nov. 22-24.
Meanwhile, Newfoundland ended a season-long, seven-game road trip with a 4-3-0-0 record. The team alternated wins and losses over the trip and last played Saturday vs. Maine (5-2 win). The club hasn't been at home since Nov. 16 when the Growlers swept a weekend series vs. Toledo.
Broadcast Coverage: Watch: BCTV (Ch. 15 Comcast, Ch. 19 Service Electric)| Listen: mixlr.com/readingroyals
Goals: Cuddemi (17)
Assists: Knodel (14)
Points: Cuddemi (30)
PIM: Mitchell (43)
+/-: Knodel (13)
Goals: Ferguson (11)
Assists: Duszak (14)
Points: Luchuk (22)
PIM: Melindy (38)
+/-: M. Bradley (7)
The Royals are halfway through a 14-game series against the Growlers; the team's most played opponent in the 2019-20 season. Reading leads the season series 4-1-2-0, tallying ten of their Eastern Conference-leading 29 points against Newfoundland.
Last time the teams met, the Royals sent the Growlers packing with a 7-2 victory on Nov. 24, 2019 at Santander Arena (gamesheet). Ralph Cuddemi became the fourth-ever Royals skater to score four goals in a game and Trevor Gooch notched his first professional tally in the contest.
Midway through October, Reading took a trip to Newfoundland to play a three-in-five (1-1-1-0). In the Oct. 15 game the Growlers tied the ECHL season-high for power play goals in a single game (4). Aaron Luchuk, who leads the Growlers in scoring against Reading, notched a power play goal and an assist on Colt Conrad's man-up tally. Conrad is tied with Giorgio Estephan for assist leader against the Royals (8).
Newfoundland's power play ranks third in the ECHL at 24.2%. Brady Ferguson notched a man-up goal for the Growlers in their Nov. 30 victory over the Maine Mariners. Reading's power play ranks eighth in the league at 20.8%. The Royals last power play goal came from Frank DiChiara, also on Nov. 30 (7-4 L v. TOL).
This day in Royals history
On Dec. 3, 2005, the Royals bested the Toledo Storm by a 5-3 score, with the game-winning goal from Chris Bala. Cody Rudkowsky blocked 34 shots (3 GA) in front of 6,617 fans in downtown Reading. The run was part of the best "first quarter" in Royals history; Reading went 14-3-1-0 (29 pts.) through the opening 18 games. Bala clipped at just below a point-per-game pace (17g, 43 pts., 46 GP). A Diamond Credit Union Wall of Honor Inductee, Bala is now the boy's hockey head coach of the Hill School outside Philadelphia. In that 2005-06 campaign, he topped Reading with five short-handed goals.
Luke Stork scored twice in his Royals debut Saturday, doubling his career ECHL goals total. The second-year forward tallied twice last season and split the season between Maine and Atlanta. Added to active roster Saturday and claimed off waivers Thursday, Stork is the 11th player in Royals history to debut with a two-goal performance. It's happened three times in the last two seasons. Last season, Matt Pohlkamp did it. In October, Ralph Cuddemi debuted with two goals and three points in a win over the Growlers.
Interestingly, Saturday marked the first time the Royals lost when a player scored twice in a debut (10-1-0-0 record).
Stork scored nine times in the SPHL with Fayetteville before signing with Reading. Saturday was his third two-goal game of the season. He had two multi-goal efforts in college and two his entire junior career with Youngstown (USHL).
Three Royals have hat tricks in their first games with Reading; Brian McCullough (2002), Jonathan Zion (2003) and Kevin Sundher (2015).
November Wrap Up
The Royals wrapped up their second-busiest month of the season with a record of 9-2-2-0 and allowed only two home losses during November (7-1-1-0). Reading rounded out the month with a season-longest six game homestand and a 4-1-1-0 record.
Ralph Cuddemi notched four game-winning goals and 12 total tallies in November. Cuddemi retains the league-lead in goals and is tied for first in points with Peter Quenneville of the Rapid City Rush (17g, 30pts). With an assist in Saturday's matchup against the Toledo Walleye Cuddemi tied a career-best 10-game point streak.
D David Drake's first goal of the season was a game-winner against the Norfolk Admirals at Santander Arena on Nov. 2, beginning the month on a high note (gamesheet).
Frank DiChiara finished the month on his second five-game point streak of the season. DiChiara has tallied eight points across five games and ranks top-10 in the ECHL in points.
Felix SandstrÃ¶m and Kirill Ustimenko both added a 1-0 shutout to their records in November. Ustimenko started nine of thirteen games and went 6-1-2-0. He earned his conference-best eighth win on Nov. 29 against the Walleye (4-2). Rookie Trevor Gorsuch also added a win to the month's record against the Wheeling Nailers on Nov. 9.
The Royals went on a season-high point streak in November, notching points in nine consecutive games.
Upcoming Home Games
Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Brampton (Star Wars Night): Character Appearances | Lightsaber Training Session | Free Souvenir Cup Refills | Postgame Party with players at Cheers! Restaurant at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Brampton (Affiliation Night) Toss Bears on the ice after the Royals' first goal | Plush Bear giveaway to first 1,500 fans | Slapshot invites local mascots including Flyers Mascot Gritty to the game | Gritty Meet and Greet Add-Ons Available | Philadelphia Flyers Theme Affiliation Jerseys - Game Worn Jersey Auction Online | $1 Frozen Treats
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