GAME PREVIEW: Jackals Cap Road Series in Reading

Game 51: Elmira Jackals (9-34-6-1) at Reading Royals (30-17-1-2)

4:00 p.m., Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania

The Jackals and Reading Royals continue their season-long DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge with the final match at Santander Arena. It is the eight match of the series, which is currently scheduled to conclude Mar. 11 in Elmira, although Friday night's postponement in Elmira will be made up at a date to be determined. The Royals lead the DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge six wins to one.

The Royals have won back-to-back games this week, including last night's 4-1 triumph over the Jackals. With seven wins in their last 10 games, the Royals are 30-17-1-2 on the season, giving them 63 points placing them in second place in the North Division.

The Jackals are winless over the last 14 games (0-12-1-1) and are now 9-34-6-1 on the season. With 25 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.      

Broadcast Coverage

Jackals Pregame at 3:45 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM

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Last time out

The Royals outscored Elmira, 3-1, in the decisive second period and went on to beat the Jackals, 4-1, on Pink in the Rink night at Santander Arena Saturday night.

After a scoreless first period, Nathan Moon opened the scoring in the second period with a goal at 3:24. Kenton Miller answered for the Jackals, making a strong move from behind the net and then snapping a backhand shot in for his team-leading 16th goal, giving him goals in three straight games.

The Royals came back with two goals in the less than three minutes, first on a point shot from Derik Johnson at 8:55 and then on a power-play goal by Robbie Czarnik on a scramble in the crease at 11:25. Matt Willows iced the game at 14:58 of the third period with a goal on a partial breakaway, giving Reading a 4-1 victory.
  
Home and away

The Jackals have played more road games (30) and fewer home games (20) than every team in the ECHL. That means over the final 22 games of the season, the Jackals have 16 home games and six road games remaining on their schedule.

The Jackals are winless in their last 10 road games, their longest drought of the season, falling to 3-22-4-1 away from First Arena. In fact, the Jackals have lost eight straight road games on three separate occasions and have 52 goals for as opposed to 125 goals against in 30 road matches.

In 20 home games, the Jackals are 6-12-2-0, with four straight home losses, and have a -14 goal differential, with 57 goals for and 72 goals against. Despite playing 10 fewer home games, the Jackals have scored five more goals on home ice.

Looking for a lead

Over the last five games, all away from home during which the Jackals are 0-3-1-1, the Jackals have never held a lead. Their last lead came Feb. 4 at home late in the second period against Brampton. The Beast scored three goals in three minutes to erase that Jackals lead and Elmira hasn't led since.

Not including Friday's suspended game against Reading, another game Elmira didn't hold a lead, the Jackals have played 331:00 consecutive minutes without holding a lead. If you add the 13:53 from Friday, that swells to 344:53 of on-ice time that the Jackals have either been tied or trailing since they led a game.

Head-to-head

Tonight is the eighth match in this season's DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge, with the Royals leading the season series with six wins in seven games.

Reading's offense has had its way with the Jackals scoring at least three goals each game, with at least five goals in four of the seven. They've outscored Elmira 35-13 in the series. Justin Crandall (3g, 10a) has 13 points to tead the series with Robbie Czarnik (5g, 7a) right on his heels at 12 points. Steven Kaunisto (4a) and Kenton Miller (1g, 3a) are the top Jackals scorers in the series.


In net, Mark Dekanich and Martin Ouellette have both made starts against Elmira, with Ouellette posting a 3-1-0 record with a 1.72 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in five games. Dekanich, who was lifted in the first period of their Jan. 14 match, is 2-0-0 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in three appearances. 

Scouting the Royals

The Royals had a six-game winning snapped last week, losing three straight games at home against South Carolina and Norfolk, before winning their first two games this week. That makes them 7-3-0-0 in the last 10 games and 30-17-1-2 on the season. At 63 points, the Royals are in second place in the North Division four points behind Manchester and one point ahead of Brampton and Adirondack.

Reading is fourth in the ECHL at 3.80 goals per game, scoring three or more goals in 10 of their last 11 games. Although they have a positive goal differential in all three periods, the Royals are particularly strong in the third, with a team-best +20 differential on 68 goals for and 48 goals against. Leading scorer Chris McCarthy (19g-28a-47pts) is currently on recall with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, so Justin Crandall (16g, 30a) is tops at 46 points among active players. Robbie Czarnik (20g, 25a) is right behind with 45 points.

In net Mark Dekanich (26) and Martin Ouellette (22) have shared most of the action this season. Ouellette has seen the majority of the ice time since the turn of the calendar, appearing in 14 of Reading's 19 games since Jan. 6. Overall he is 12-7-0-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Dekanich is 13-10-1-1 with a 3.05 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. 


Special teams

The Royals broke a 1-for-17 (5.9%) drought by going 1-for-4 on the power play last night. Overall they are 10th in the ECHL at 19.5%, going 34-for-174 on the season, including 6-for-24 (25.0%) against the Jackals.

The Jackals went 0-for-4 on the power play last night, falling to 24-for-163 (14.7%) on the season, ranking 22nd in the ECHL. They are just 3-for-30 in the season series with Reading.

Reading's penalty kill has continued it's torrid pace with a perfect 15-for-15 over the last five games. In 29 games since Dec. 3, the Royals have allowed just eight power-play goals, surging up to 11th in the league at 83.8%.

The Jackals gave up one power-play goal against the Royals last night. Overall, Elmira is 24th in the ECHL on the kill at 79.3%.