|2016–17 ECHL season|
|Home arena||Santander Arena|
|Colors||Purple, black, silver, white
|Owner(s)||Jack D. Gulati|
|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 2000–01 season. The Chill relocated during their inactive two year status to their present location in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania for the 2000–01 season to make room for the Blue Jackets.
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.
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 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 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 "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 2007–08 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 2008–09. 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 2008–09 season. The Royals continued 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. 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 will return for the 2009–10 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 June 6, 2014, the Philadelphia Flyers announced a two-year affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals, giving the Philadelphia Flyers an entirely Pennsylvania based minor league system for the first time since 1997–98. The Flyers and Royals agreed to a multi-year affiliation extension in 2016.
The Johnstown Chiefs (now the Greenville Swamp Rabbits) were the Royals' cross-state main rival. The Royals have a current rivalry with the Elmira Jackals (Sabres affiliate) and Wheeling Nailers (Penguins affiliate), and formerly had one with the Trenton Titans.
- "Reading Royals purchased by Stokesay owner". Reading Eagle. February 16, 2014.
- "Columbus Hockey History". 2010-02-26. 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.
- "Flyers announce affiliation with Reading Royals of the ECHL". Philadelphia Flyers. 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Royals Renew Affiliation Agreement with Philadelphia Flyers". OurSports Central. July 10, 2016.
- "Reading Royals current roster". Reading Royals. 2016-12-10. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
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