Royals mascot Slapshot is no ordinary lion

Slapshot excites the crowd before the Reading Royals players hit the ice. (Candice Monhollan)

Slapshot excites the crowd before the Reading Royals players hit the ice. (Candice Monhollan)

Not every lion gets a birthday celebration from a minor pro hockey team.

Then again, Slapshot isn’t like every other lion.

The purple-maned feline has spent all 12 seasons of Reading Royals history as their official mascot.

“It’s a great town,” Slapshot said. “It’s wonderful to see the crowd here. Reading has been very supportive of me and always bring Tootsie Rolls.”

Born in Calgary, Alb., Slapshot came to Reading on a great ECHL contract from the Royals and the lure of a wonderful fan base.

Since becoming a mascot for a hockey team, knowing how to skate was a must and lucky for him, something he already knew how to do.

Unfortunately, an injury last season has sidelined the lion for most of the year.

“Last season, I ended up hurting my knee,” Slapshot said. “It’s why I haven’t skated as much this season. I’ve been recovering, so I’m doing much better now.”

The one advantage to the injury is Slapshot’s chance to rehab with some of the players, but he hopes to get back out on the ice more during practice.

“I tend to hang out more with the goalies than I do everybody else,” Slapshot said. “The skaters tend to not check me as much. I’m a little bigger and they’re still afraid I’m going to bite them every once in a while.”

Despite the injury, Slapshot was able to participate in a game during an intermission for the Washington Capitals.

He donned the pads as goaltender on the same team as the affiliated mascots, Coco of the Hershey Bears and Slapshot of the Capitals.

The opposing kids, however, proved to be a little too much for the mascots to handle.

“I would have to say that the defense fell apart in front of me,” Slapshot said. “The most interesting was the Chick-fil-A cow. He kept me on my toes. The kids were tough.”

Slapshot was glad for some advice before the game, which helped him make some big saves.

“I’ll give credit to Braden Holtby for that,” Slapshot said. “He gave me a little pep talk before the game. I got a little words of wisdom from [Philipp] Grubauer as well.”

He enjoyed playing in front of the thousands of Capitals fans, but Slapshot will always return to the place he truly calls home – the Sovereign Center in front of Royals fans.

One of the most treasured items he owns is the first Royals jersey he was given by the team.

“The first jersey was definitely unique and very special,” Slapshot said. “It’s still framed in my office.”


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Categories: ECHL, Features, Ice Hockey, Sports

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