Reading Royals

The Reading Royals are a professional ice hockey team that currently plays in the ECHL. The team participates in the North Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference. The Royals play their home games at the Santander Arena located in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania. The Royals colors are purple, black, silver, and white. Since 2001, the Royals have ranked among ECHL leaders in regular season attendance. On March 25, 2006, against the Trenton Titans, the Royals reached their one millionth fan in attendance. The Royals hosted two ECHL All-Star Games; one in 2005 and one in 2009.

Reading Royals
2019–20 ECHL season
CityReading, Pennsylvania
Home arenaSantander Arena
ColorsPurple, black, silver, white
Owner(s)Berks County Convention Center Authority
General managerDavid Farrar[1]
Head coachKirk MacDonald
CaptainGarrett Mitchell
MediaReading Eagle
AffiliatesPhiladelphia Flyers (NHL)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Franchise history
1991–1999Columbus Chill
2001–presentReading Royals
Division Championships4 (2004–05, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2013–14)
Conference Championships1 (2012–13)
Kelly Cups1 (2012–13)

The Royals were the 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup champions. They earned the title with a five-game victory over the Stockton Thunder in the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals.

Franchise history

Columbus Chill and Kings era

The Reading Royals were founded in 1991 as the Columbus Chill. David Paitson was team's first president and general manager while former NHL player Terry Ruskowski was the head coach, started the team with a goal of introducing new audiences to the sport of ice hockey and building a strong fan base. The two were successful with the help of an extensive marketing plan. The Chill's 83-game sellout streak beginning in early January 1992 still stands as a minor league hockey record today.[2] It would take the team two seasons to reach the playoffs, doing so in 1994 under coach Ruskowski. The Chill would go on to win two conference championships and make the playoffs for five of the eight seasons. The Chill were a key part of the growth of hockey in Columbus, Ohio, and paved the way for the National Hockey League expansion Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000.

The Chill then suspended operations for in 1999 to make room for the Blue Jackets. The Chill franchise relocated during their inactive two year status to their present location in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, for the 2001–02 season as the Reading Royals. When the franchise returned to active status in the ECHL, they became the affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. At the time, the Royals were partially owned by the same owners of the Kings and Monarchs, the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).[3] The rest of the ownership was by Santander Arena management, SMG.

The Royals made their first trip to the Kelly Cup playoffs in 2004 in their third season, winning the North Division playoff championship under head coach Derek Clancey. In the next season, they became the North Division regular season champions, only to lose to the eventual Kelly Cup champion Trenton Titans in the North Division Finals.

Under coach Karl Taylor from 2005 to 2008, the Royals had generally mediocre performance in regular season performances. In the 2007–08 season, skaters Dany Roussin and Brock Hooton enjoyed some fame in Reading due to their "goal-a-game" nature for much of the season, while tough-guys Steven Later and Malcolm MacMillan were among league leaders in penalty minutes. After a strong finish to the regular season, Taylor led the team to the North Division Finals where their tour ended in a seven-game battle with the Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones continued on to sweep past other teams to win the Kelly Cup, but the Royals were the only team to take them to seven games in the playoffs.

Some better-known players during this era who played for the Royals include Los Angeles Kings goaltenders Barry Brust, Jonathan Quick, and Yutaka Fukufuji; Phoenix Coyotes winger Ryan Flinn; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer; and Anaheim Ducks winger George Parros, who was the first Royal to appear in the Stanley Cup finals. Veteran Larry Courville and former head coach Derek Clancey have also contributed to the Royals organization.

New affiliations and the Courville era

The 2007–08 season would be Karl Taylor's last with the Royals organization. In late June 2008, general manager Gordon Kaye announced that Taylor would leave Reading to serve as coach for the AEG's newly acquired ECHL franchise, the Ontario Reign. The new team would also become the primary affiliate for AEG's Kings and Monarchs. On July 9, 2008, the Royals became the affiliate of the Boston Bruins and a secondary affiliate for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2008–09 season. The Royals continued to wear their colors of purple, black, and silver. The Santander Arena and the city of Reading, Pennsylvania, were also named the hosts of the 2009 All-Star Game and Skills Challenge. On July 24, 2008, Reading announced that Jason Nobili would be head coach for the 2008–09 season. Unfortunately, Nobili was unable to coax much from the team and was dismissed by Kaye on January 6, 2009, with the team in last place overall in the ECHL. Larry Courville was named as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

On April 4, 2009, general manager Gordon Kaye announced that Courville would return for the 2009–10 season as full-time head coach.[4] On August 4, 2009, The Royals announced it renewed their affiliations with the Bruins and Maple Leafs and the AHL's Toronto Marlies.[5]

In 2011, AEG sold off its shares of the Royals to the Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA).[6]

On July 9, 2012, the Royals became the affiliate of the Washington Capitals.[7] At the end of their first season with the Capitals, the Royals won the 2013 Kelly Cup championship by defeating the Stockton Thunder four-games-to-one.

The Royals won the 2013 Kelly Cup by defeating the Stockton Thunder in five games. Captain Yannick Tifu and played in every regular season and postseason game, scoring a game-winning goal in the final minutes of game four of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cincinnati Cyclones. Reading won the first three games of the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals against the Stockton Thunder. On May 25, 2013, goaltender Riley Gill had a 29-save shutout and the Royals defeated the Thunder 6–0 to claim the team's first Kelly Cup. Riley Gill was named the MVP for the playoffs with a 13–4–0 record, a 1.91 a goals against average, a .930 save percentage, and four shutouts.

In 2014, Jack Gulati purchased all shares of the ownership of the Royals from SMG and BCCCA.[8] In June 2014, the Philadelphia Flyers announced a two-year affiliation agreement with the Royals, giving the Flyers an entirely Pennsylvania based minor league system for the first time since 1997–98.[9] The Flyers and Royals agreed to a multi-year affiliation extension in 2016.[10]

During his eighth full season as head coach, Courville announced he would be stepping down at the end of the 2016–17 season. However, one day after qualifying for the 2017 playoffs, he was fired by the Royals and replaced by assistant Kirk MacDonald on an interim basis.[11] The interim tag was removed from MacDonald a few weeks after the Royals were eliminated in the first round of the 2017 playoffs.[12]

2017–present: Kirk MacDonald era

The Royals' first season under Kirk MacDonald resulted in a third place finish in the North Division with a 39–24–9–0 record and 87 points. Reading finished two points behind the Adirondack Thunder for first place. The Manchester Monarchs earned 88 points in the regular season and then swept the Royals in the North Division semifinals. The Monarchs won the first two games of the series in double overtime despite goaltender John Muse making 54 saves in game one and 53 in game two. In game three, Muse registered 52 saves, giving the three-highest postseason save performances from a Reading netminder in a four-day span. Forward Matt Willows lead the team with 32 goals and 74 points before he announced his retirement after the season. Muse split the season between Reading and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL and tied for a league-high .931 save percentage. The Royals took 658 penalty minutes, the fewest in ECHL history.

During the 2018–19 season, the Royals' owner Jack Gulati agreed to sell the team back to the Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA), the previous ownership and the owners of Santander Arena, on June 30, 2019.[13] The Royals concluded the 2018–19 season with a six-game win streak and eight-game point streak, finishing with 78 points and a 34–28–4–6 record, but were one point behind the Brampton Beast for the final playoff spot in the North Division. Reading had the most points of any team to miss the 2019 Kelly Cup playoffs. The Royals used eight goaltenders through the season, tied for the most in team history. Jamie Phillips went 8–2–0–1 in his final 12 games of the season after being reassigned to Reading at the trade deadline. Chris McCarthy had a career-best 54 assists and 74 points (third in league). On May 9, 2019, the Royals re-signed head coach Kirk McDonald to a two-year contract extension.[14] The Royals and Flyers also renewed their affiliation though at least the 2019–20 season with a 2020–21 renewal option.[15]

Season-by-season record

Regular season Playoffs
SeasonGPWLOTLSOLPtsGFGAStandingYearQualifier1st round2nd round3rd roundKelly Cup Finals
2001–027227369631822156th, Northeast2002Did not qualify
2002–037232355692613037th, Northeast2003Did not qualify
2003–0472372510842121895th, North2004W, 1–0, JHNW, 3–2, WHLW, 3–1, PEOL, 2–3, FLA
2004–0572432225932201611st, North2005 W, 3–1, TOLL, 1–3, TRE
2005–0672422334912492093rd, North2006BYEL, 1–3, WHL
2006–0772323325712212356th, North2007Did not qualify
2007–0872382662842472333rd, North2008BYEW, 4–2, ELML, 3–4, CIN
2008–0972244233542112697th, North2009 Did not qualify
2009–1072372915802542752nd, East2010 W, 3–2, KALW, 4–0, FLAL, 3–4, CIN
2010–1172442323932572201st, Atlantic2011 W, 3–1, CINL, 0–4, KAL
2011–1272362844802292353rd, Atlantic2012 L, 2–3, ELM
2012–1372461934992461851st, Atlantic2013 W, 4–2, GRNW, 4–3, FLAW, 4–1, CINW, 4–1, STK
2013–1472462222962291821st, Atlantic2014 L, 1–4, FW
2014–1572452142962592103rd, East2015 L, 3–4, SC
2015–1672362664822221943rd, East2016 W, 4–3, TOLL, 3–4, WHL
2016–1772412542882552172nd, North2017 L, 2–4, BRM
2017–1872392490872321993rd, North2018 L, 0–4, MAN
2018–1972342846782292295th, North2019 Did not qualify


Current roster

Updated November 15, 2019.[16]
# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Contract
27 Jeremy Beaudry D R 26 2019 Montmagny, Quebec Royals
6 Garrett Cecere D L 24 2019 West Des Moines, Iowa Royals
19 Garret Cockerill D R 25 2019 Brighton, Michigan Royals
28 Ralph Cuddemi RW R 26 2019 Concord, Ontario Royals
21 Frankie DiChiara LW L 26 2018 Ronkonkoma, New York Royals
8 David Drake D L 24 2018 Naperville, Illinois Phantoms
18 Thomas Ebbing C L 25 2019 Troy, Michigan Royals
11 Matt Gaudreau RW L 25 2019 Carneys Point Township, New Jersey Heat
7 Trevor Gooch F L 25 2019 Mantua, New Jersey Royals
35 Trevor Gorsuch G L 25 2019 St. Charles, Missouri Royals
4 Jacob Graves D R 24 2019 Barrie, Ontario Royals
16 Hayden Hodgson RW R 23 2019 Windsor, Ontario Royals
5 Eric Knodel D L 29 2019 West Chester, Pennsylvania Phantoms
23 Pascal Laberge C R 21 2019 Chateauguay, Quebec Flyers
9 Brayden Low C L 25 2018 Richmond, British Columbia Royals
81 Corey Mackin F L 24 2019 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Royals
77 Jimmy Mazza D R 25 2019 Kings Park, New York Royals
3 Rob Michel D R 25 2019 Camillus, New York Phantoms
36 Garrett Mitchell C R 28 2019 Regina, Saskatchewan Royals
32 Felix Sandstrom G L 22 2019 Gävle, Sweden Flyers
12 Steven Swavely F R 28 2016 Reading, Pennsylvania Phantoms
72 Kirill Ustimenko G L 20 2019 Gomel, Belarus Flyers
67 Max Willman C L 24 2019 Barnstable, Massachusetts Royals
15 Trevor Yates LW L 24 2019 Beaconsfield, Quebec Royals


  1. "Royals new general manager focused on attracting new fans". Reading Eagle. March 26, 2019.
  2. "Columbus Hockey History". 2010-02-26. Archived from the original on 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  3. "Reading could have a new affiliate in '08-09". Reading Eagle. December 16, 2007.
  4. "Larry Courville Named Royals' Head Coach". Reading Royals. 2009-04-04. Archived from the original on 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  5. "Royals affiliate with Toronto and Boston". Reading Royals. 2009-08-04. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
  6. "BCCCA to own half of the Reading Royals". Pro Hockey News. May 24, 2011.
  7. "Capitals announce ECHL affiliation with Reading Royals". Washington Post. 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
  8. "Reading Royals purchased by Stokesay owner". Reading Eagle. February 16, 2014.
  9. "Flyers announce affiliation with Reading Royals of the ECHL". Philadelphia Flyers. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
  10. "Royals Renew Affiliation Agreement with Philadelphia Flyers". OurSports Central. July 10, 2016.
  11. "Reading Royals fire Larry Courville as head coach". Reading Eagle. April 3, 2017.
  13. "Reading Royals will remain in Reading after team is sold". WFMZ. January 23, 2019.
  14. Guarente, Jason (2019-05-09). "Reading Royals extend head coach Kirk MacDonald's contract". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  15. "Flyers renew ECHL affiliation with Royals". Philadelphia Flyers. September 9, 2019.
  16. "Reading Royals current roster". Reading Royals. 2016-12-10. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
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