2013 Kelly Cup Champions

The 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Reading Royals (Candice Monhollan)

The 2013 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Reading Royals (Candice Monhollan)

STOCKTON, Calif. — The Reading Royals clinched their first Kelly Cup Championship in franchise history with a 6-0 victory in Game 5 over the Stockton Thunder.

Here are what some of the players had to say immediately following the victory:

Larry Courville

“These guys have been great all year. They worked so hard. To win the whole thing in the end is definitely rewarding. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

“It was difficult [starting the season 1-5]. It was scary. People were calling for my job. I knew this team would find a way. It was a new system and we needed to understand it better and get better as a team. I know the guys, after that fifth loss, came together and had a pretty good meeting and from there on, it was a tremendous season.”

“[Riley Gill] has been great. I’ve always liked him for two or three years now. When he first came into the league, I know we saw him when he first came out of college late in the season. Kalamazoo picked him up and they almost stole the series that year we went really far. He came in as a young guy and played and stole the job from the No. 1 guy. I’ve always liked him since. We ran into some goalie issues, some health stuff, and he was available. It took me a while to get him, but in the end, he came down and made a big different for us.”

“I had one lady in my ear and slapping the glass behind me, but she was great. She ended up shaking my hand at the end after we won and she said, ‘No offense taken’ and I said the same thing because I gave her a hard time behind the glass. But that’s what they’re there for – to cheer the team on and get us out of our game. She was getting me out of my coaching game. I thought the fans here were tremendous. I don’t know how many they had in the building tonight, but they were loud. Even though we got up, they were there until the end to respect their team. Stockton deserved to be here. In the end, they worked hard and beat some really good teams to get here. Thankfully for us, we won. That first game at home could have gone either way. We out-played them the second game. They out-played us in the third game even though they won. And then the fourth game, of course, they out-played us. And then tonight, even though we scored a couple goals, before that, it was a pretty tight game. It was going back-and-forth. We got a few more and it’s kind of hard to come back. I respect their team and they played well. It could have gotten ugly toward the end, but they played the proper way and I have respect for them and their coach.”

“I thought yesterday we sat back. I’m not going to say we thought it was going to be easy. We knew they were going to push and we didn’t respond with their push. I think the guys thought they would push for 10 minutes and it would go back. It’s hard to push for 60 minutes. We sat back and allowed them to push and we didn’t fight back. What I told them tonight was we’ve got to push back. If they’re going to be intense and come out with a big jump, we’ve got to push back and be even better and be a little more aggressive. I thought we did that for the most part and the first 10 minutes was a pretty good game. The first 20 – pretty good period. Then we got luck on a couple goals and then the guys took over from there.”

“I’ve had some special teams in the last five years. This one will probably be the most memorable just because we won it. I know two years ago when we went to the Conference Finals, that team was also special. Every year, you run into a group of guys where it just makes it wonderful to coach and this year, it made it a lot easier because we had a lot of those guys. This whole team deserves to win, even guys who didn’t play toward the end. They probably could have gotten it done also. Our 23 guys deserved this victory.

Stanislav Galiev

“It’s something special for me because the coach trusts me. It’s a Game 5. I was a little injured and wasn’t 100-percent. My foot still hurts a little bit, but it was nice to forget everything out there and help my team get the Cup.”

“I had some emotions because we were up 3-1 and had the chance to win. Especially since it’s my first pro Finals and first pro Finals game, so I was so excited and it was something special.”

“After I came back from injury, [the goal] was special. We were up 5-0 after. It’s a great feeling.”

Brian Grogesky (Athletic Trainer)

“It’s an absolutely awesome feeling. It’s been a long road – 12 years of this and seeing a lot of boys come and go, a lot of struggles here and there. It’s an awesome feeling to accomplish this here today.”

“Every single one of these boys has their own characteristics and amazing talents. Everybody’s pulled together into one big family to get this far.”

“It’s hard to not show your emotions. It’s hard to keep them in at times, but we try to do that and try to keep pushing through.”

Patrick Wellar

“There’s nothing to describe the feeling we have now because I’ve been lucky enough in my career – three times before – to have this moment. Words can’t describe it and the bond that we have will carry on forever. It’s not one of those things that you can really appreciate at the moment, but down the road, this is something we’ll look back on with a lot of pride. Every team that I’ve been on that has won a championship has been so tight, and this is no exception. We all wanted to be here. There’s so many good players here. There’s so many guys that want to take their game to the next level that are ready. It’s been a thrill for me. I can’t imagine – I don’t even know what to say.”

“The character in this room and like you said, there’s so many guys that are ready to take that game to the next level. I could go around the room with that, but there’s not enough time. Everyone’s game is next-level ready. Hopefully this championship will raise their opinion in the hockey world and give these guys a chance because everyone deserves it. There’s so much character and so much talent. The whole time we thought this was our championship to lose. For us­, it’s more of a relief to get it done because for us to lose, it would have been heartbreaking.

Yannick Tifu

“Not yet [do I have words for this]. I don’t think I realize yet what’s going on. I thought that everything went so quick. Last shift of the game, I was trying to get back to the bench and everybody was yelling, ‘Stay on the ice.’ I was trying to realize what was going on. Seriously, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. With that group, there’s no words. Hopefully maybe tomorrow [I’ll have words], but I’ll probably have a hangover by tomorrow. Hopefully in a couple days I’ll realize what’s going on. For right now, I’m just trying to enjoy the time with friends and that’s what [Ethan Cox] and [Wellar] told me before the third period. Just enjoy it. Right now, that’s all I want to do is enjoy it.”

“Starting 1-5, I knew right there we had something. It was just a feeling. The way we had character on this team. If you look a guy like [Barry] Almeida, he won two NCAA. You look at [Wellar], who is on his third [Kelly Cup] right now, fourth as a pro. [Cox] won it before. [Nikita] Kashirsky won. I just knew that we had something special. You start the season, you always want to win the Kelly Cup. You’re stupid if you don’t want to win it. What was going on inside the room, I knew we had what it takes. It’s been a journey, it’s been a long run, but I’m happy at the end. That’s what we were looking for. Now we’re going to enjoy it. It’s been something special and I knew it from the start.”

“Every year I thought it was going to be my year. A couple times with Florida, I thought it was going to be my year. If I ever thought I was never going to win, I was going to go to Europe or something. I had a goal. I had my mind set on something when I showed up in the league and when I lost, I wanted to accomplish it. As much as I love the group and I’m happy for everybody, I wanted to turn the image of people saying, ‘Tifu is good in the regular season, but never won nothing.’ Today, I changed the whole minds of a lot of people. I thank everybody in this dressing room because they helped me accomplish. I just talked to Wellar and I said as a leader, he helped me. A guy like Cox and [Kirk MacDonald] helped me be a better man and they helped me be a better leader. Having a ‘C’ on my jersey is not always easy. You’ve got to answer the questions to you guys [the media], you’ve got to answer the questions to the coach. It’s something I’ve been better at and today it’s the accomplishment of a lot of work I’ve put in and I’m really happy and I thank everybody. And just not the players, but Larry Courville. He wanted me here last year. Everybody that believed in me. And thanks to you guys, too. Just not you, but all the newspapers. You’ve guys have been hard on me sometimes, but I know it. Down the road, we got what we wanted and that’s the best right now.”

“I was on a mission [this postseason]. I thought that I didn’t have the year that I wanted. I was struggling a little bit, even though I had a point a game, I thought defensively, I wanted to be better. I had a meeting with Larry and Larry told me to be better defensively. I had some letdowns. I thought that in the Cincinnati series. It’s a risk sometimes with a guy like me. You want to be a lot offensively and you guess a lot. I was just on a mission. I really thought that I had the group to do it and I just wanted to be accountable to all my teammates. I wanted to go out there and do what I had to do and I thought that I brought it up. Maybe not every night. Again in Cincinnati, I thought I had a letdown, but that’s why it’s a team. The team stepped up. All series, everybody stepped up. A guy like [Brett] Flemming played unbelievable. And a guy like Gill – I don’t think there’s words for that guy right now. That’s what this is all about. This team has been stepping up for each other and that’s why we’re a family.”

“I really thought it was going to be closer. I’ve got to give credit to Stockton, to be honest. They played a hell of a series. I said before the game, we took a mulligan last night and there were no more mulligans for us. We don’t want to go back home. From there, we came up and we wanted to play a full 60 minutes and I thought we brought it up. When Gill made the save at the start of the game – that was huge. And then we had the chance to score a couple goals early in the game, which was huge for us. That’s the way we wanted to do it – just score early in the game. From there, the time would go down quick enough.”

Riley Gill

“It’s incredible. When you look back at the year that I’ve had – the trade from Kalamazoo to Utah, getting released at Utah, going to the SPHL, going back up to the ECHL and winning it all. It’s just humbling. We had a great team here. We went 9-1-1 since our Game 7 against Florida. That’s just incredible. I am just fortunate to be on such a great team here. It feels great to be a champion.”

“I was on a great team last year [with Kalamazoo] in the Conference Finals. We knew what we had here in Reading going into the playoffs. From the coaching staff to the players, everybody handled it great and we played great and we ended up the champions. It’s just unbelievable.”

“I didn’t even think about [winning Playoffs MVP]. I was just trying to win the game tonight. It’s just a cherry on top of an incredible season for me. I couldn’t be happier with my teammates and myself – all my supporters, my family and my fiancée back home. I’m just blessed and happy to be here right now.”

“Absolutely not [have I had a run like this]. I was telling guys that, including my pro totals this year, I have 12 shutouts, including playoffs. It’s just been an incredible year. It will be tough to top, but I couldn’t be happier right now. It just feels great to be on top and celebrate like this. It just doesn’t happen very often.”

“When you get traded, it doesn’t feel good. And then I was released. I didn’t even get traded from Utah this year. I just got straight up released, so obviously it feels great to prove those guys wrong. I bet they’re kicking themselves right now and it feels great. Hopefully it sets up people for the future. You never give up. Even though you end up in the lower league or whatever, you just battle your way back and you can become whatever you want to be. I just tried to stick to my game plan every day in the playoffs and it worked out well for me. We’re on top today.”

Ethan Cox

“I think we had that feeling. We were pretty disappointed with last night. We knew we let a chance get away from us. They’re a really, really good team and they work hard. We kind of have to squash any kind of life they could have. We thought if we played the way we did in the third period in last night’s game, that we’d be successful. That was our mindset to come out, have a good start and we did that. It was close until the second period. We were focused on our start and kind of let the game play out from there.”

“We know that [Galiev] is a lethal player and is really exciting to watch. You saw that shot on the power play – just lethal. That guy’s got an NHL-caliber shot. He played really well. He wasn’t really playing his regular shifts, but when he did get out there, he had a lot of energy. We built off that. Not only him, but everyone had that kind of swagger about them today. Galiev is going to do some big and exciting things in the next couple years in the Washington organization.”

“I’m very fortunate to be on teams that coaches have built for success. Larry has done a tremendous job. Lots of guys coming down from Hershey. We were fortunate to get guys down at the right time here. I think it’s really luck of the draw. I was on a great team in Alaska, then traded out here and did really, kind of a 180 of what the team was last year to this year. It’s more of a tribute to [Courville] and the front office staff. Their commitment to winning and the personnel really pulled through and showed the character of the entire season. I think it’s more me being fortunate to be on teams that like to win championships.”


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

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