READING, Pa. – For the second year in a row, the Reading Royals will have the Eastern Conference playoffs run through their arena in Southeastern, Pa. Last season the Royals rode home ice all the way to their first ever Kelly Cup Title. The Royals did not have home ice throughout the playoff since the Alaska Aces had the league’s best record with 106 points; the Royals had 99.
It is possible that this time things will be different since Reading is only one point behind Alaska again for best record overall.
The Royals have three games remaining, two against the Florida Everblades, one against the Orlando Solar Bears, all on the road. Alaska and the Ontario Reign, who last season had the same amount of points as Reading, but like Alaska bowed out of the Western Conference playoffs early, also has three games remaining, all against the Colorado Eagles. Ontario has all three of their remaining games at home, two against Stockton, and one against Bakersfield. If the Royals win out they will tie the club record for points in a reason (99) and in wins (45).
Regardless of what happens out west, the Royals hold the cards in repeating as champs. Most of the team in intact from last season including last year’s playoff MVP, goaltender Riley Gill. Head Coach Larry Courville is back from last season to defend the title. That is rare at the ECHL to have both back in tack. They are tied with Alaska for home wins with 26 and are fourth in the league in scoring and fifth in team defense, 11th on the power play, and third on the penalty kill.
If the Royals have one thing going against them it is history. No team has repeated as champs since the Toledo Storm did it in 1993 and 94 when the cup was known as the Riley Cup, not the Kelly Cup as we k now it now. The Hampton Road Admirals repeated as champs both seasons before Toledo did it. The Kelly Cup began in 1997 and the Riley Cup ran from 1989-1996.