Jackals visit Royals in the First Demet's Candy Cup Challenge Match of 2016-17
Game 1: Elmira Jackals (0-0-0-0) at Reading Royals (0-0-0-0)
7:00 p.m., Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania
The Elmira Jackals begin their 10th anniversary season by visiting their North Division rival Reading Royals tonight at Santander Arena. It's the first of 10 head-to-head matches between the teams in the 2016-17 season.
The Royals played two preseason games, both against the Jackals, in preparation for the regular season. The Jackals won both of those games by a combined score of 9-1, including a 3-1 win in Reading Oct. 7. The Royals finished last season as the eighth and final playoff team in the Eastern Conference with 82 points and scored a first-round upset of Toledo in the playoffs.
The Jackals went a perfect 3-0-0-0 in the preseason, with two wins over Reading and one over the Brampton Beast on Oct. 4 in Kingston, Ontario. The Jackals narrowly missed the postseason in 2015-16. Elmira finished third in the ECHL with 21 road victories last season, going 21-11-4, and the Jackals are 7-2 in their previous nine ECHL season openers.
Jackals Pregame at 6:45 p.m. TV: WETM-2 Radio: 1410 WELM
Last time out
The Jackals finished a perfect preseason by shutting out the Reading Royals, 6-0, in front over 3,000 fans at First Arena Oct. 8.
Todd Christian gave the Jackals an early 1-0 lead, scoring a power-play goal on a wraparound at 10:11 of the first period. He doubled the Elmira lead in the second period, snapping home a shot from the slot to make it 2-0 at 6:13 of the period. With six minutes to go in the second, Zach Luczyk banged home a rebound to make it 3-0 and the Jackals would eventually take a 4-0 lead into the second intermission.
The Jackals continued to build the lead in the third period, with Luczyk netting his second goal of the night at 11:10 and then Chris Joseph collecting a power-play goal at 15:42. Tyler Parks earned the shutout by stopping all 32 Reading shots.
Scouting the Royals
The Royals finished last season 36-26-6-4, finishing with 82 points, just three points ahead of the Jackals in the Eastern Conference standings. They were the eighth seed in the conference, but upset top-seeded Toledo in seven games to open the playoffs before falling to Wheeling in the conference semifinals.
The Royals opening night roster features 11 players who spent time in Reading last season. Their leading scorer from last season, Justin Crandall, returns to the Royals after putting up 55 points (17g, 38a) in 54 games in 2015-16. In all, four of their top six scorers are back to begin the season.
The Royals open the season with Martin Ouellette and Mark Dekanich between the pipes. Ouellette is in his third season with the Royals and he has also spent time with the Royals' AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley. Dekanich, a ninth-year pro, is in his first season with the Royals, after spending last year in South Carolina.
The Jackals and Royals will meet 10 times in the 2016-17 regular season as part of the DeMet's Candy Cup Challenge. The two teams renew their hostilities back in Elmira on November 25. They will play five games at both First Arena and at Santander Arena this season and seven of the 10 come after the turn of the calendar.
Last season the two teams met 12 times, with the Royals winning seven and the Jackals winning five. The Royals won five of the six matches at First Arena, with the lone Jackals win coming Nov. 21. Elmira returned the favor by splitting the six games in Reading. The Jackals won the final match of the season, 4-3 in overtime, Mar. 29 in Reading.
Setting the 2016-17 roster
The Jackals opening night roster is set and is comprised of 22 players, including 20 on the active roster. The list includes 10 active forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies with one player on the ECHL reserve list and one on injured reserve.
Out of the 22 players on the roster, there are three veterans, including defensemen Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel and Steven Kaunisto and Player/Assistant Coach Mike Duco. The three have combined for 1,089 professional games entering the season.
The Jackals begin 2016-17 with seven rookies, including two rookie defensemen--Chris Joseph and Carl Tremblay--and five rookie forwards--Todd Christian, Zach Luczyk, Kyle Rankin, Joel Wetmore and Charlie Mosey. Wetmore grew up just outside of Elmira in Horseheads, New York.
The two goalies to open the season both spent the majority of training camp in the AHL. Andy Iles was with the Albany Devils before being returned to Elmira late last week. John Muse participated in camp with the Rochester Americans before being reassigned to Elmira Thursday.
The Jackals had three multi-goal performances in the three preseason games. Zach Luczyk had two multi-goal games, scoring twice against Brampton and then following that up with a two-goal game last Saturday against Reading. He also had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in Saturday's win over Reading.
Rookie Todd Christian, a Clarkson University product, also had two goals in Saturday's win against the Royals. He had an assist to finish with a three-point night.