Reading Royals Report – January 2014

This article can be found published in the January issue of Center Ice Hockey Magazine and on their website.
Ryan Cruthers is back in the purple and black after signing a contract with the Reading Royals. (Mike Ashmore)

Ryan Cruthers is back in the purple and black after signing a contract with the Reading Royals. (Mike Ashmore)

It’s been a far tougher road for the Reading Royals this season than last year’s Cup-winning one.

There have been a lot of curves thrown their way from the affiliation with the Hershey Bears and it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Instead of the constant influx of players from last year – the old take one and send someone else – the Bears have been calling up members of the Royals and leaving them shortchanged, especially in the net.

Near the end of November, goaltender Riley Gill was recalled to the Bears for a couple weeks, but the AHL club did not even use him during the time, instead leaving him to warm the backup seat at the end of the bench. The Royals were left with Brandon Anderson and an EBUG. Anderson did the best he could, but went 1-2-1 over the time and allowed 18 goals in those four games.

Even when Gill was finally returned, fortunes didn’t change as they Royals continued to lose two more games before finding the win column again.

The goaltending issues have even gone so far as to have neither Gill nor Anderson on the roster at the end of 2013 as they were both up with the Bears, leaving them to play quick signee Josh Watson on their Dec. 31 game against Wheeling.

A glaring problem which has been around all season for the Royals has been goal scoring. As of the start of 2014, they found the back of the net only 74 times, second lowest in the Eastern Conference (Elmira has 67).

To help combat the loss of players to either injury or call-ups, the Royals have turned to signing on more players – and familiar faces at that.

Returning are defenseman Marvin Degon, who last played with the team during the 2011-12 season before leaving early in the year for Europe, and forward Ryan Cruthers.

Cruthers, former captain of the team before Yannick Tifu, was traded at the deadline in 2012 to Alaska to bring in current player Ethan Cox. Cruthers made an instant impact, scoring a goal in his first game back in the purple and white jersey.

The Royals have rebounded from the five-game losing streak, winning five of their last six, but it’s still a long road ahead of them, which doesn’t seem as though it will get any better with call-ups.

They currently stand with a 15-10-1-0 record, good for second in the small Atlantic Division, but sit eighth in the conference and in the final playoff spot.


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Categories: ECHL, Sports

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