Game 55: Elmira Jackals (10-36-7-1) vs. Reading Royals (31-20-1-2)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals and Reading Royals resume their suspended game from Friday, Feb. 17 tonight at First Arena. The game will resume with the Royals ahead 2-0 and 6:07 remaining in the first period. It is the ninth of 10 meetings in the DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge, with Reading winning seven of the first eight.
Reading is on a three-game losing streak and is 4-6-0-0 over their last 10 games, dropping to 31-20-1-2 on the season. At 65 points, the Royals are in fourth place in the tight North Division race, five points ahead of Wheeling for the final playoff spot, but also just five points out of first place.
The Jackals picked up points in both games against the Eastern Conference leading Florida Everblades (1-0-1-0) last weekend. They are now 10-36-7-1 on the season and have 28 points, which puts them in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Two Buck Tuesday
Those with tickets to the original game (Feb. 17) get in for free to tonight's game, plus another game of their choice. For everyone else, tickets are just $2 anywhere in the bowl and hot dogs, popcorn, fountain drinks and beer are all just $2 each.
Last time out
Mike Ferrantino scored 2:03 into overtime and the Florida Everblades squeezed past the Jackals, 3-2, in overtime Feb. 25 at First Arena.
The Everblades opened an early 1-0 lead just 2:53 into the game on a Stephen MacAulay shot from the right wing circle. Elmira answered midway through the first, cashing in on a terrific rush. Kenton Miller passed to Casey Thrush at the left circle, where he quickly tapped it over to Brycen Martin joining the rush. Martin fired home his second goal of the season at 9:05 to even the score at one. Florida regained the lead 7:07 into the second period on a point shot from Kevin Raine following a Florida faceoff win.
The Jackals rallied in the third to force overtime. On just their second power play of the game, Miller snapped home a shot from the left circle, which was initially not called a goal, but the officials discussed at the next whistle and ruled the puck was in the net, tying the game at two. In overtime, Ferrantino made a strong move at the left circle to beat Andy Iles and win the game for the Everblades, 3-2.
Home and away
The Jackals have played more road games (31) and fewer home games (23) than every team in the ECHL heading into the week. That means over the final 18 games of the season, the Jackals have 13 home games and five road games remaining on their schedule.
The Jackals are winless in their last 11 road games, their longest drought of the season, falling to 3-23-4-1 away from First Arena. The winless over 11 games has tied the Indy Fuel for the longest winless streak on the road this season. In fact, the Jackals have lost eight straight road games on three separate occasions and have 52 goals for as opposed to 127 goals against in 31 road matches.
In 23 home games, the Jackals are 7-13-3-0, including points in back-to-back games (1-0-1-0), and have a -15 goal differential, with 65 goals for and 80 goals against. Despite playing eight fewer home games, the Jackals have scored 13 more goals on home ice.
Welcome to the team
When Jason Kasdorf was recalled to the Rochester Americans late Saturday afternoon, the Jackals added Elmira Fire Department's Eddie Palmieri as the team's emergency backup goalie for their game against the Everblades Saturday night.
Earlier that afternoon, in the Battle of the Badges, Palmieri pitched a shutout against the Elmira Police Department, leading the Fire Department to a 5-0 victory.
Tonight is the ninth of 10 head-to-head matches between the Jackals and Royals this season, with the DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge wrapping up Mar. 11 at First Arena. Reading has secured the DeMet's Candy Cup for the third straight season, winning seven of the first eight games and they hold a 2-0 lead in tonight's game.
Robbie Czarnik (4g, 9a) and Justin Crandall (3g, 10a) are the top scorers in the season series with 13 points and Czarnik has a series-high +12 rating in eight games. Ryan Penny leads the way with seven goals and he has 10 points. Kenton Miller is the leading Jackals point producer against the Royals with four points (1g, 3a).
In net, both Martin Ouellette and Mark Dekanich have three wins in the series with sub-two goals-against averages. Ouellette took the only loss and has a 1.72 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage while Dekanich has a 1.92 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage, plus one shutout.
Scouting the Royals
After a three-game winning streak, which included two wins over the Jackals, Reading has dropped three in a row, falling to 31-20-1-2 on the season with a 4-6-0-0 record over their last 10 games. At 65 points, the Royals in fourth place in the tight North Division race, five points ahead of Wheeling for the final playoff spot in the division.
Robbie Czarnik (19g, 28a) and Chris McCarthy (19g, 28a) are tied for the team lead with 47 points, although McCarthy has done that in just 43 games as he is currently on recall in Lehigh Valley. Justin Crandall is right behind with 46 points (16g, 30a). Both Czarnik and Crandall lead the season series with Elmira with 13 points.
In net Martin Ouellette and Mark Dekanich have split time for Reading with Ouellette appearing in 25 games and Dekanich in 28. Ouellette is 12-10-0-1 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. Dekanich is 14-10-1-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage, including a shutout against the Jackals Feb. 19.
The Royals have had success against the Jackals on the power play this season, going 7-for-28 (25.0%) in the series. That has helped them to 10th place in the ECHL with the man advantage, scoring 36 power-play goals and converting on 19.1% of chances.
The Jackals went 1-for-2 on the power play Saturday night against Florida, moving to 27-for-178 (15.2%) on the season, ranking 20th in the ECHL. They are just 3-for-32 (9.4%) against Reading, but just 1-for-24 (4.2%) since they went 2-for-8 in the season-opening matchup.
After a long stretch of successful penalty killing, the Royals PK units slipped up in their last two games over the weekend, allowing four power-play goals in 13 chances to Adirondack and Greenville. That dropped Reading to 12th in the ECHL at 83.2% overall.
The Jackals were a perfect 7-for-7 on the PK over the weekend against Florida, jumping to 79.8% on the penalty kill this season, which is 23rd in the ECHL. They are better at home, stopping 85.1% of opposition power plays, which ranks seventh in the league on home ice.