‘We did it all together’ – Looking back at the 2012-13 Reading Royals


The Reading Royals celebrate as the 2013 Eastern Conference Champions. (The Enquirer/Joseph Fuqua II)

The Reading Royals celebrate as the 2013 Eastern Conference Champions. (The Enquirer/Joseph Fuqua II)

Looking back at the beginning of the season feels like a whole different year for the Reading Royals.

It seems almost laughable at this point that the 2012-13 Royals, who accomplished so many different team and ECHL records this season, had such a terrible start.

No one can even say it’s a different makeup now because a solid core of players currently preparing for the Kelly Cup Finals played at least one game during the 1-5-0-1 stretch.

Who are they?

Alex Berry, Julien Cayer, Joel Champagne, Ethan Cox, Brett Flemming, Kirk MacDonald, Bryant Molle, Ian O’Connor, Dustin Stevenson, T.J. Syner, Yannick Tifu, David Vallorani and Patrick Wellar.

Out of those 13, five of them had 30 or more points in the regular season and three of them currently lead the team with 10 or more points in the postseason.

Back on Nov. 3, Tifu commented about the Royals finally stringing two wins together for the first time – which kicked off the record-breaking run.

“Starting 1-5 was pretty hard,” Tifu said. “It felt great to have two great wins. We’re a great hockey team. We have a little bit of everything.”

And the Royals did prove they have a great hockey team.

After the start, they went on a terrific 11-game win streak to catapult themselves back to the top of the Eastern Conference, where they sat for the majority of the season.

It wasn’t the last one they would have as they also put together two winning streaks of eight.

The Royals locked up the Atlantic Division March 20 and clinched the No. 1 seed in the East three days later.

They finished the regular season with a 46-19-3-4 record for 99 points, first in the East and second best in the league.

All this they did – amazingly – with eight different starting goaltenders and five EBUGS.

“It was a hard year for goalies,” said Tifu on the night of March 30. “We were counting how many goalies we had this year. It’s pretty funny, though. That means a lot to a team when you win games with a lot of goalies like that. Guys are ready to commit defensively.”

The Playoffs

Clinching the No. 1 seed set the Royals up with a date with the Greenville Road Warriors in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Though the Royals wrapped up the series in five games, with four of those in shutout fashion, they did have a tough time trying to figure out goaltender Connor Knapp.

But, as we can all see, the Royals were able to get just enough by the goaltender to win games and the series.

Moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals meant a match with the defending Kelly Cup Champion Florida Everblades.

Everyone, including the players, knew this would be a grudge match to the end – and it was.

The series needed all seven games and the winner wasn’t clear until the final game.

Five of the seven games had a one-goal differential. It wasn’t until Game 7 when the Royals really took over and skated away with a 4-1 win.

Move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Royals needed just five games against their next opponent, the Cincinnati Cyclones, but this series kept you holding your breath the entire time.

The first three games went to overtime with Game 1 needing two to decide a victor, but in these playoffs, the Royals have had the overtime magic, winning 4-of-5.

The Royals only out-scored the Cyclones but a tiny margin of 16-12.

Now, the Royals await for the start of the Kelly Cup Finals and the Stockton Thunder, who will be their final opponent of the 2012-13 season.

Award Winners

With a team that put on several exhilarating runs during the regular season, it was no surprise to see some players win ECHL awards along the way.

Philipp Grubauer – ECHL Goaltender of the Week (Nov. 12-18)
Riley Gill – ECHL Goaltender of the Week (March 11-17)
Riley Gill – ECHL Goaltender of the Week (March 18-24)
Philipp Grubauer – ECHL Goaltender of the Month (November)
Yannick Tifu – ECHL Player of the Month (December)
Riley Gill – ECHL Goaltender of the Month (March)
Adam Comrie – All-ECHL Second Team
David Vallorani – ECHL All-Rookie Team

Making History

It’s no surprise the Royals also made some history along the way. Many club records were broken and even a few ECHL ones as well.

“A lot of Reading Royals history went down this year,” Tifu said on March 30. “It’s something we accomplished and I felt like, as a team, we grew up – everybody together. I’m really proud of all the guys in the dressing room. I’m really happy we did it all together.”

Here’s a list of all they accomplished this season, along with the original record they broke.

Also note that included are records from when they were the Columbus Chill.

Team Records

  • Most points in a season (99) – Original record was 93, done three times in 1996-97, 2004-05 and 2010-11
  • Most wins in a season (46) – Original record was 44, done twice in 1996-97 and 2010-11
  • Fewest losses in a season (19) – Original record was 20, done in 1993-94
  • Longest winning streak (11 games) – Original was nine games, done twice from Dec. 19, 1993-Jan. 15, 1994 and Nov. 7-26, 2004
  • Longest home winning streak (10 games) – Original was nine games, done twice from Jan. 31-March 22, 1997 and Jan. 2-Feb. 15, 2004
  • Highest winning percentage in a season (0.688) – Original record was 0.664, done in 1996-97
  • *Most wins at home (26) – Original record was 25, done twice in 2004-05 and 2003-04

*Denotes only a Royals record, not an overall record including the Chill

Individual Team Records

  • Lowest goals-against average in a season, Riley Gill (1.28) – Original record was 1.96 by Barry Brust in 2004-05
  • Best save percentage in a season, Riley Gill (0.952) – Original record was 0.933 by both Jeff Salajko in 1996-97 and Peter Hamerlik in 2003-04

ECHL Records

  • Fewest Goals by one team in a five-game playoff series (4) – Original record was 5 by the Peoria Rivermen in a series against the Johnstown Chiefs in 2002 –> This record technically goes to the Road Warriors, but it was due to the Royals, so I included it.
  • Tied the record for fewest goals by both teams in a five-game playoff series (19) – Record set in 2002 in the series between the Rivermen and Chiefs in 2002
  • First team to win four games by shutout in a single playoff series

Kelly Cup Finals

The 2012-13 Royals are already the Atlantic Division Champions and Eastern Conference Champions.

As of Saturday, they will take part in the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in team history and have the chance to add one more championship title to their season.


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Categories: ECHL, Ice Hockey, Kelly Cup Finals, Kelly Cup Playoffs, Sports

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