While the NHL has not ruled out resuming the season at some point, the same cannot be said for the Reading Royals, or the ECHL as a whole.
The South Carolina Stingrays and Florida Everblades finish as the ECHL’s top two teams. The Flyers ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals, finished tied for the sixth-best winning percentage in the league. Their record sat as 37-17-6. That was good for second in the North Division. The team ended the season with a 5-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers.
The ECHL came to the tough decision of canceling the rest of the season on Saturday night. The decision came after the league announced it would suspend play three days prior. The 26-team league will not be crowing a champion for the first time in the league’s history.
For Reading, they were poised to make a run in the playoffs and may have had one of their best chances in a long time. The team was 19-5-2 since early January. The team was on pace to finish with 96 points. The Royals felt confident that they were a team to beat that season. Head coach Kirk MacDonald was especially certain about that.
“Nobody knows who’s going to win it,” MacDonald said. “That being said, there’s only a couple of teams that stacked up against us. I don’t know how many were built to beat us over seven games.”
They were led by Frank Dichiara who had 59 points in 59 games. He was 13th in the league in points. His 22 goals also led the team. Corey Mackin had 20 goals and 46 points in 58 games. The team had eight players with double-digit goals. Every player on the team had at least one point. Only three players had less than 10 points.
Looking at some of the more well-known Flyers prospects who played for Reading, Matthew Strome finished the season with nine goals and 11 assists in 25 games. This was his first full season after playing in six games for the Phantoms at the end of last year. Pascal Laberge appeared in 23 games and had six goals and six assists. He also played in 24 games for the Phantoms. Health was a big factor for Laberge this season.
While he wasn’t with the team at the time, Kirill Ustimenko had a solid season with the Royals. In 31 games played for the team, he had a 2.40 GAA and a .919 SV%. He had the seventh-best save percentage while his goals-against average was ninth. His 19 wins were also ninth in the league. These numbers came during his first professional season.
Felix Sandstrom was also in his first professional season. The numbers for him were not as strong, however. He finished the year with a 13-11-1 record to go along with a 3.27 GAA and a .885 SV%. Sandstrom looked good as of late, though. He had given up three goals in his last two games. He made 17 saves in his final start, only giving up one goal that was scored in the second period.
So despite the talent and depth the Reading Royals had, it’ll be a summer fill of unknowns and what could have beens. The team will no doubt be ready to go again come next season.