Friday, May 30, 2014

Flyers to gain a new full-time ECHL affiliate

The Philadelphia Flyers will be taking another crack at a full-time ECHL affiliate.

According to the Reading Eagle's hockey reporter, there will be a press conference scheduled for 11 AM Wednesday morning at which time the Royals and Flyers will officially announce a partnership.

Philly had a long-standing affiliation with the Trenton Titans beginning in 1999, only interrupted by the franchise being acquired by New Jersey and resurrected as the Devils from 2007-11. Three seasons ago, the Titans once again became a Flyers farm club, but that agreement was terminated last April 23 when the Titans shocked many with the announcement they had ceased operations.

This past season, the Greenville Road Warriors agreed to an affiliation, only to dump the Flyers before the midpoint of the campaign in favor of the New York Rangers.

The Royals began operation prior to the 2001-02 season, and were originally affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings. In later years, that switched between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, then in 2012, the Washington Capitals announced that Reading would serve as the franchise's primary Double-A club.

That change paid off better than anyone expected, as the Royals took home the 2013 Kelly Cup in a victory over the Stockton Thunder thanks in large part to goaltender Philipp Grubauer, whose stellar performance in Berks County two years back precipitated his rise to the AHL and NHL in his brief career.

In 2013-14, Reading finished first in the Atlantic Division with a 46-22-4 record, but fell short in its title defense after losing a five-game first-round series to the Fort Wayne Komets.

This past Wednesday, the Royals front office gave head coach Larry Courville a legitimate vote of confidence with a contract extension. Courville, who played briefly for the Vancouver Canucks in the late 90s and was a member of the Royals' inaugural roster, is the winningest coach in franchise history and has led the club to five straight postseason berths.
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