Game 33: Elmira Jackals (7-20-5-0) vs. Reading Royals (19-12-1-1)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals are home for the first time in 2017 as they host the Reading Royals in the first of back-to-back DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge matches at First Arena. It's the fourth of 10 matches between the teams this year and begins a string of three-straight games between Elmira and Reading, which will conclude Monday afternoon in Reading.
The Royals have won five of their last six games since Dec. 23, only losing once last week against the Adirondack Thunder. With six wins in their last 10 games the Royals are up to 19-12-1-1 on the season and have 40 points, which puts them in third place in the North Division. After these three straight games against the Jackals, the Royals have games against Adirondack and Wheeling next weekend.
The Jackals have lost four straight games, all on the road, and have opened 2017 0-3-0-0 to drop to 7-20-5-0 on the season. With 19 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference. After three games against Reading, and the All-Star Break that follows, the Jackals are in Manchester for a three-in-three next weekend.
Jackals Pregame at 6:50 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM
Earlier today the Jackals announced a coaching change, mutually agreeing to part ways with Dave Leger, who was named the 12th Head Coach in Jackals history during the summer.
In his place, current player/assistant coach Mike Duco has been deemed the Interim Head Coach designate, pending the completion of mandatory immigration and league paperwork. Duco will become the 13th Head Coach in Jackals history, finishing an eight year professional career, which includes 18 games in the NHL. The Toronto, Ontario native has not played in a game this season with the Jackals, instead shifting his focus towards transitioning into coaching.
The Jackals are wearing special 10th anniversary jerseys both games this weekend against the Royals, culminating with a post game jersey auction following Saturday night's game.
A limited number of the unique, 10th anniversary jerseys will be auctioned in the live post game jersey auction Saturday night. The remaining jerseys will be raffled off, one per game, in the Jackals Den team store.
Last time out
Peter MacArthur scored a natural hat trick and the Adirondack Thunder cruised past the Jackals, 5-1, Tuesday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
After a solid start for the Jackals, MacArthur opened the scoring for the Thunder at 5:55 of the first period, potting a goal from behind the net. His centering pass bounced in off Jackals defenseman Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel for a 1-0 lead. He made it 2-0 at 12:50 of the first by tapping in a rebound near the left circle.
MacArthur finished the hat trick early in the middle frame, burying a spin around shot at the left circle at 1:39 for a 3-0 lead. Later, Ty Loney tipped in a point shot for a power-play goal at 11:46 of the second. Kenton Miller got Elmira on the board with a right-circle shot at 8:26 of the third, but Roman Dyukov answered right back for a 5-1 Thunder lead, which held up as the final.
Tonight is the fourth of 10 head-to-head matches between the clubs in 2016-17 as part of the third DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge. The Royals have won the first three games, outscoring the Jackals 14-4 over the three games. Two of the three games were in Reading, including a 5-0 shutout in their last meeting Dec. 28.
Ryan Penny is the leading scorer in the series with five points (2g, 3a) and a +6 rating. Three players are next in line with four points, including Olivier Labelle, who has four goals to lead all scorers.Tyson Fawcett is the Jackals leading scorer with two assists.
In net, Andy Iles started the season opener against the Royals, taking the loss in a 6-2 decision.
Game 27: Fielding shuts outs Jackals out of holiday break
The Jackals fired just 16 shots on goal, and they were all turned aside by Drew Fielding, as the Reading Royals routed Elmira, 5-0, in the first game after the holiday break Dec. 28 at Santander Arena.
In a first period that saw both teams receive three power plays, including a 5-on-3 for each side, the Royals emerged with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. Late in the period Olivier Labelle tapped in a cross-ice pass at 16:38 for his fourth goal against the Jackals in three games this season.
The Royals expanded that lead in the second period with two quick goals less than a minute apart. Ryan Penny got the first one, to give Reading a 2-0 lead, when he scored on a rebound after Jason Kasdorf stopped a breakaway chance. Moments later, Florian Iberer blasted a one-timer from the right circle at 8:36 to make it 3-0 Royals. Robbie Czarnik tacked on two goals in the third for Reading to cap a 5-0 final.
Scouting the Royals
Following a three-game losing streak, Reading has wins in five of their last six games since Dec. 23, with three of those wins coming against the Adirondack Thunder. Reading is in the middle of a stretch of 14 straight games against the North Division, which began Dec. 21 and goes through Jan. 27. Reading is third in the North Division with 40 points and a 19-12-1-1 record.
The Royals offense is eighth in the league at 3.55 goals per game and is lead by Chris McCarthy's 31 points (15g, 16a). Olivier Labelle (13g, 14a) and Justin Crandall (10g, 17a) are next with 27 points apiece. Labelle leads the team with 11 power-play points (6g, 5a) and also leads the way with five first goals.
Four goaltenders have seen time in net for the Royals this season. Drew Fielding, Austin Lotz and Martin Ouellette have shared time over the last six games, but Fielding and Lotz are no longer on the active roster. Ouellette has eight appearances for the Royals this season and has a 4-3-0-0 record with a 3.27 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage.
The Royals power play ranks sixth in the ECHL at 20.2% (24-for-119). It jumps to 22.2% (14-for-63) on the road, with only two teams scoring more road power-play goals than the Royals. In the season series against Elmira, the Royals are 3-for-11 (27.3%) in three games.
The Jackals power play went 0-for-3 Tuesday against Adirondack, making them 0-for-8 over the last two games. Overall they are 18th in the ECHL at 15.0% (16-for-107). Their power play at First Arena is third in the league, clicking on 9-of-37 (24.3%) of their chances.
Reading's penalty kill has been on the rise the last few weeks, jumping to 21st in the ECHL at 80.7%, allowing 23 power-play goals on 119 opposition power plays. 13 of those power-play goals allowed have come on the road, where their percentage is at 80.3%. The Royals have allowed two goals in 15 chances against the Jackals. Over the last 12 games, Reading has allowed just two power-play goals in 43 chances, a 95.3% success rate.
The Jackals penalty kill gave up one goal in four chances against the Thunder Tuesday night, which dropped them to 17th in the ECHL at 83.1% (98-for-118). They are ninth at home, stopping 85.7% of opposition power plays.