The Reading Royals are a professional ice hockey team that currently plays in the North Division of the ECHL's Eastern Conference.
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. In 1994 the team reached the playoffs, under coach Ruskowski. They won two conference championships and made the playoffs for five of 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. In 2001, the franchise returned to active status in the ECHL, 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.
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.
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. Then 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. On August 4, 2009, The Royals announced it renewed their primary affiliation with the Bruins and Maple Leafs and the AHL's Toronto Marlies.
On July 9, 2012, the Washington Capitals announced that the Reading Royals would be affiliating with Capitals. In the early morning hours (EDT) of May 26, 2013, the Reading Royals won the 2012–13 Kelly Cup Championship by defeating the Stockton Thunder four games to one.
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.
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 Royals colors are purple, black, silver, and white
Slapshot the Lion
Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Division Championships 4 (2004–05, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2013–14)
Conference Championships 1 (2012–13)
Kelly Cups 1 (2012–13)
Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
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.
Official website: http://royalshockey.com/