Game 27: Elmira Jackals (6-15-5-0) vs. Reading Royals (15-11-1-1)
7:00 p.m., Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania
The Jackals open the final week of 2016 on the road against their North Division rival Reading Royals in the third match of the DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge. The Royals have won the first two matches between the clubs, including the first one at Santander Arena, which came in the season opener Oct. 15.
The Royals entered the holiday break with a win over the Adirondack Thunder, but had lost their previous three games, which came on the heels of an eight-game winning streak. Overall, the Royals are in fourth place in the North Division with 32 points. They'll close out the calendar year with a home match against Wheeling Friday and a trip to Adirondack Saturday.
The Jackals played two home games last week before the holiday break, earning just one point in the two games. With 17 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division. Elmira concludes 2016 with tonight's game in Reading, a home game against Norfolk Friday and a road match in Wheeling on New Year's Eve.
Jackals Pregame at 6:45 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELMTV: WETM-2
Taking on the North
The Jackals have work to do if they want to make a run for the Kelly Cup Playoffs out of the North Division, where the top four teams will qualify for the playoffs. One way to make a run would be to improve on their record inside the North Division. Elmira has played 16 games against their division, but has just a 3-11-2-0 record against the North.
Including this week, 30 of the Jackals' final 46 games will be played against the North Division. That includes the final 12 games of the season between the end of March and beginning of April.
Last time out
Jason Kasdorf stopped 45 of 50 Manchester Monarchs stops, but the Jackals never led and Manchester broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to win, 5-4, Dec. 23 at First Arena.
The teams traded goals in the first period, with the Monarchs exiting the first with a 3-2 lead. The Monarchs got goals from Daniel Ciampini at 2:01, Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman at 9:00 and Kevin Morris at 17:57, but those were answered by the Jackals. First it was Kenton Miller on a rebound at 4:22 and then Sebastien Sylvestre scored after a takeaway in the offensive zone at 16:35. The Jackals tied the game in the second on another rebound goal from Miller at 3:40.
Manchester broke the 3-3 tie in the third period with two goals in less than two minutes. Ciampini got both for the Monarchs, giving him a hat trick and giving the Monarchs a 5-3 lead. Charlie Mosey got one of those goals back for the Jackals, but it wasn't enough as the Monarchs held on for the 5-4 win.
Second-year Jackal Guy Leboeuf skated in his 150th ECHL game Dec. 23 against the Monarchs. 69 of those 150 games have come as a member of the Jackals, where he has 11 points (2g, 9a) and 37 penalty minutes.
Forward Sebastien Sylvestre logged his 100th career ECHL point in the Dec. 23 game against Manchester. He has 15 points in 21 games with the Jackals this season, giving him 48 goals and 52 assists in his ECHL career.
Defenseman Greg Amlong notched his first professional goal Dec. 22 against Adirondack, tying the game with a power-play goal. The rookie's first pro goal came in his 20th career ECHL game.
Scouting the Royals
The Royals have losses in three of their last four games, but did win the final game before the holiday break Dec. 23 against Adirondack. Prior to the last four games, Reading had won eight straight games and the Royals enter the week with a 15-11-1-1 record. At 32 points, they are fourth in the North Division, just two points ahead of Wheeling for the final playoff spot.
Reading is eight in the ECHL scoring 3.46 goals-per game and is led by Chris McCarthy's 25 points (12g, 13a). Olivier Labelle is second with 22 points (11g, 11a), including a league-high six power-play goals. Labelle has three goals in the first two games against Elmira this season.
In goal, Mark Dekanich has appeared in the majority of Reading's games this season, logging 21 appearances and posting a 10-9-1-1 record with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. Drew Fielding has seen action in two games and is 1-0-0-0, allowing two goals on 45 shots against.
The Monarchs power play is third in the ECHL at 22.1% (21-for-95), but that number goes to 24.3% at home. They are 3-for-7 (42.9%) head-to-head against the Jackals this season.
The Jackals power play went 0-for-3 in their last game against Manchester and they are 15th in the ECHL at 16.0% (13-for-81). Away from First Arena the team's power play is just 5-for-47 (10.6%), although two of their five road power-play goals came in Reading Oct. 15.
Reading's penalty kill has moved to 24th in the ECHL, allowing power-play goals on 21 of 96 opponent's power plays, a 78.1% kill rate. That number drops further at Santander Arena, where the Royals have allowed nine power-play goals in just 35 chances, a 74.3% rate.
The Jackals were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill Saturday and are 23-for-25 (92.0%) in the last six games. They only allowed a power-play goal in one of those six games, giving up two Dec. 16 at Manchester. Elmira is 15th in the ECHL at 84.3%.