|2014–15 ECHL season|
|Home arena||Santander Arena|
Black, purple, silver, white
|General manager||Mark Wallace|
|Head coach||Larry Courville|
|Affiliates||Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
|Division Championships||4 (2004–05, 2010–11, 2012–13). 2013–14)|
|Conference Championships||1 (2012–13)|
|Kelly Cups||1 (2012–13)|
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. Reading Royals hosted two ECHL All-Star Games; one in 2005 and one in 2009.
The Royals are the 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup Champions. They earned the title with a five game victory over the Stockton Thunder in the 2013 Kelly Cup Final.
Columbus Chill and Kings era
The Reading Royals were founded in 1991 as the Columbus Chill. David Paitson was team's first President/General Manager and former NHL player Terry Ruskowski, 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. 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 NHL expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. The 1998–99 season would be the franchise's final season as the Columbus Chill as the team suspended operations for both the 1999-2000 season and the 2000-2001 season. The Chill relocated during their inactive two year status to their present location in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania for the 2000-2001 season to make room for the Jackets.
The move created big changes for the franchise. In 2001, the franchise returned to active status in the ECHL with a new name and colors. The Columbus Chill were then renamed to the Reading Royals and became the ECHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL.
The Royals first entrance into the Kelly Cup Playoffs came in 2004 while in their third season, when they won the North Division Championship under head coach Derek Clancey. Then during 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, the Royals had generally mediocre performance in regular season and post-season play. For three seasons straight, the Royals were unable to play past the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The 2007–2008 season was another story. 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 MacMillian were among league leaders in penalty minutes. After a strong finish to a boring regular season, Taylor led the team to the North Division Finals where their tour ended in a heated 7-game battle with the unstoppable Cincinnati Cyclones. The Cyclones continued on to sweep past other teams to win the cup, but the Royals were the only team to take them to seven games in the playoffs.
Some better-known players that 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 "The Legend" Courville and former head coach Derek Clancey have also contributed to the Royals organization.
The end of an era; a new dawn in Reading
The 2007–2008 season would be Karl Taylor's last with the Royals organization. In late June 2008, General Manager Gordon Kaye announced that Taylor will leave Reading to serve as coach for the new Ontario Reign of the ECHL for 08–09. The Royals were left without a coach, and had not yet announced any prospects.
In a press conference on July 9, 2008, the Royals became the primary ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins and the secondary ECHL affiliate for the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2008–2009 season. The Royals continue to wear their colors of purple, black, and silver.
The Santander Arena and the city of Reading, Pennsylvania are also the hosts of the 2009 All-Star Game and Skills Challenge for the ECHL. During this exciting upcoming season, as an affiliate of a team with great history, the Royals plan to highlight the rich tradition of hockey in Reading - as well as Boston, an Original Six team.
Gordon Kaye (GM) has a great feeling about what is to come. "We believe that this relationship with Boston will provide us with the best opportunity to give our fans what they want and deserve - an ECHL championship."
On July 24, 2008, Reading announced that Jason Nobili will be head coach for the 2008–2009 season. Unfortunately, Nobili was unable to coax much from the team and was dismissed by Kaye on January 6, 2009, with the team mired in last place overall in the ECHL. Larry Courville was named as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
On April 4 of 2009, General Manager Gordon Kaye announced that Courville will return for the 2009–2010 season as full-time head coach.
On June 10, 2009, the Royals announced that the organization’s equipment manager, Pat Noecker, was selected as the Reebok Hockey ECHL Equipment Manager of the Year by the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers (SPHEM) for the second season in a row. Noecker is a former professional hockey in-line goaltender who has also served as an emergency back-up for the Royals on a number of occasions.
On July 9, 2012, the Washington Capitals announced that the Reading Royals would be affiliating with Capitals.
The Johnstown Chiefs (now the Greenville Road Warriors) were the Royals' cross-state main rival. The Royals have a current rivalry with the Elmira Jackals, and formerly had one with the Trenton Titans.
Updated September 8, 2014.
- "Annual ECHL Board of Governors Meeting concludes", ECHL, June 24, 2014. (accessed 24 June 2014)
- "Columbus Hockey History". 2010-02-30. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
- "Larry Courville Named Royals' Head Coach". Reading Royals. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "Noecker Repeats As Equipment Manager of Year". Reading Royals. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
- "Royals affiliate with Toronto and Boston". Reading Royals. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- "Capitals announce ECHL affiliation with Reading Royals". Washington Post. 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
- "Roster = Reading Royals". Retrieved 2012-02-14.
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