Royals enter final week of season on five-game point streak
Reading, PA - The Reading Royals, proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, enter the final week of the ECHL regular season four points back of the fourth and final North Division playoff spot with three games to play. Reading also announced Monday forward Michael Huntebrinker has been returned on loan from Lehigh Valley (details below).
The Royals have won three straight games, are on a five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) and play two road games before completing the regular season at home vs. Adirondack Sat., Apr. 6 at Santander Arena. This Wed., Apr. 3, Reading visits Maine and on Fri., Apr. 5, the Royals are at Adirondack. The next two road games will be broadcast on BCTV (Ch. 15 Comcast, Ch. 19 Service Electric).
Goaltender Jamie Phillips has helped ignite the late-season spark; he's started all five games of the point streak, pitched a 1.74 goals against average and delivered a .939 save percentage. Phillips made 20 saves (2 GA) and stopped both shootout attempts Saturday as the Royals overcame a two-goal deficit to win, 3-2, vs. Wheeling. The Caledonia, ON native has started eight straight games, winning five (5-2-0-1, 2.54 GAA, .909 sv.%).
The Royals have hosted eight games since Feb. 24 and five have had crowds of at least 4,000. On Saturday, 4,251 fans poured through the Santander Arena gates for Autism Awareness Night.
In order for the Royals to make the postseason, they must earn at least five points in their three remaining games and receive help; Maine (73 pts.) Manchester (76) and Brampton (76) own the first tiebreaker against Reading so the Royals must finish in front of two of the three. Worcester is two points behind Reading and plays four games this week.
Huntebrinker scored the shootout-winning goal for Lehigh Valley Saturday in Cleveland after being recalled earlier in the day. With the Phantoms, he has produced two goals in 23 games. In 33 Reading games, he has 17 goals, 41 points and nine multi-point outings. His 41 points match his point production as an ECHL rookie, when the Chesterfield, MO native potted 20 goals and was named to the 2018 ECHL CCM All-Star Classic.
Chris McCarthy: T-2nd in points (70) | 3rd in assists (52)
Jamie Phillips: 5th wins (24) | 9th in GAA (2.62)
Team: 2nd fewest PIM/game in league (9.9)
Team: 5th in shots/game (33.4) | 6th in shots against per game (30.2)
Apr. 3 at Maine: Cross Insurance Arena, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 5 at Adirondack: Cool Insuring Arena, 7:00 p.m.
Apr. 6 vs. Adirondack: Santander Arena, 7:00 p.m.
31-28-4-6, 72 points, 6th North
Newfoundland - 92 points
Adirondack - 82 points
Manchester - 76 points
Brampton - 76 points
Maine - 73 points
Reading - 72 points
Worcester - 70 points
Mar. 29 vs. Maine, W, 6-2
Mar. 30 vs. Wheeling, W, 3-2 (SO)
1) Phillips' brilliance
Over his personal five-game point streak, Jamie Phillips has blocked 138 of 147 shots (.939 sv.%) and Reading has moved out of sole possession of seventh. Prior to the streak, Reading's team save percentage sat at .892. His saves the last two weeks have raised it three points, to .895.
Earlier this campaign when Phillips played for Florida, he pitched an eight-game point streak in November (7-0-1-0).
2) How it's shaping up
Reading will need to overcome two teams of the following three teams, Maine, Manchester and Brampton, to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Maine has four games remaining; Wednesday vs. Reading, Friday vs. Worcester, Saturday at Manchester and Sunday vs. Newfoundland. Brampton is at Cincinnati Friday, at Toledo Saturday and hosts the Walleye on Sunday. After Manchester's Wednesday tilt at Worcester Wednesday, the squad completes the regular season Friday vs. Newfoundland and Saturday vs. Maine.
The Royals currently do not own the first tiebreaker, ROW (regulation plus overtime wins) against any of the three squads. Manchester's ROW is 35, Brampton's ROW is 32, Maine has a ROW of 29 and Reading is at 27. Worcester sits two points behind Reading and has a ROW of 27.
3) Not this year, Nailers
The Royals took their 100th-ever win against Wheeling Saturday, the most they've had against any opponent. In doing so, the Royals split the season series with the Nailers (4 wins, 4 losses). Wheeling has only won two season series outright against Reading since the start of 2007-08.
Over the last five seasons, the Royals have 25 wins and 24 losses against the Nailers.
Reading has the opportunity to cut the all-time series vs. Adirondack closer this weekend; the Thunder have taken four straight against the Royals and now possess a 25-22 edge. Reading is 22-20-2-3 ever vs. Adirondack.
Prior to the Thunder's four-game series win streak, Reading won three in a row vs. Adirondack.
Regular season team leaders
Goals: Josh MacDonald (26)
Assists: Chris McCarthy (52)
Points: Chris McCarthy (70)
PIM: Jacob Graves (80)
+/-: Michael Huntebrinker (+14)
Monday - Practice, 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday - Practice in Maine, noon
Wednesday - Game at Maine, 7:00 p.m.
Thursday - TBD
Friday - Game at Adirondack, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday - Game vs. Adirondack, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday - TBD
Monday - TBD
Regular Season Finale
Sat., Apr. 6: FANdemonium with prize giveaways at 7:00 p.m. vs. Adirondack
1) The Royals will hand out prizes to fans at every stoppage in play!
2) Season Ticket Holder jersey off our backs
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