Preseason Game 3: The Elmira Jackals finish off their three-game exhibition schedule with a second-straight match against the Reading Royals tonight at First Arena. It is their first and only home preseason game of 2016. Elmira has wins in each of the first two exhibition games of 2016, with wins over Brampton and Reading.
Tonight is the second and final preseason game for the Royals, who dropped a 3-1 decision to the Jackals last night at Santander Arena in Reading.
The Jackals are 2-0-0-0 to start the preseason, defeating the Brampton Beast, 4-2, Tuesday night at INVISTA Centre in Kingston, Ontario in the ECHL's first preseason game of the year. The Jackals scored three goals in the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and beat Brampton. Last night in Reading, the Jackals dominated the Royals to the tune of a 3-1 win.
Jackals Pregame at 6:50 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM
Last time out
The Jackals improved to 2-0-0-0 in the preseason with a 3-1 win over the Reading Royals at Santander Arena in Reading.
The Jackals controlled play throughout the game and that all started with a strong first period. Elmira outshot the Royals 13-5 in the first, but didn't score until late in the period when Casey Thrush deposited a rebound from the left circle with 3:26 remaining in the frame. Charlie Mosey and Colin Murray were credited with the assists.
That momentum carried over into the second period as the Jackals quickly built a 2-0 lead. With Thursh pressuring on the forecheck, he forced a turnover behind the Royals net and with Reading goalie Mark Dekanich caught behind the cage, Lou Educate tapped in the free puck in the crease for a two-goal lead 25 seconds into the second period. Later in the period, Rich Botting scored a power-play goal off a Jackals faceoff win to give the Jackals a 3-0 lead at 9:41.
Elmira's defensive effort continued throughout the third period, but goalie Dalton McGrath lost his shutout bid with 3:05 to go in regulation as Zach Hall snuck a shot in on a rush down the right wing. The goal came on Reading's second shot of the period and it cut the Jackals lead to 3-1. The Jackals held the Royals to just three shots in the third to secure a 3-1 victory.
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.
Six players on the current roster spent time in Reading last season, including defensemen Derik Johnson and Todd Perry and forwards Mike Pereira, Ian Watters and Robbie Czarnik. Czarnik finished the season third on the team in scoring with 46 points (23g, 23a) in 51 games. Pereira was fifth on the team with 43 points (19g, 27a) in 47 games last season.
The Royals currently have three goalies on the training camp roster, with Martin Ouellette, Mark Dekanich and Brandon Anderson filling those spots. Ouellette is in his third season with the Royals and he has also spent time with the Royals' AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley. Dekanich started last night's game against the Royals. The ninth-year pro is in his first season with the Royals, after spending last year in South Carolina. Anderson last played in 2014-15 with South Carolina and Tulsa.
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 next week to open the regular season, Oct. 15 at Santander Arena. They will play five games at both First Arena and at Santander Arena this season.
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.
Jackals forward Joel Wetmore, a Horseheads, New York native, has been a participant during Jackals training camp. He earned an invitation to the Jackals' main training camp after competing for a place at Jackals' Pro Placement Camp in August. He is one of a handful of players who are participating in the main camp after Pro Placement Camp.
Wetmore, 25, grew up in Horseheads and went to Notre Dame High School in Elmira, where he graduated in 2009. He spent the last four seasons playing at Utica College, where he served as an alternate captain for two years.
Jackals in the AHL
Six players under contract with the Jackals began camp competing for positions in the AHL. Forwards Tyson Fawcett, Matt Zay, Kyle Rankin and defensemen Davis Vandane and Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel are all at camp with the Rochester Americans.
Goaltender Andy Iles, an Ithaca native, has been participating in training camp with the Albany Devils after signing with the Jackals this summer.
As camps have progressed, defenseman Guy Leboeuf earned a recall from Rochester and he played in their exhibition game earlier this week.