The Reading Royals of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have announced the team’s management structure, as well as several staff additions, for the seventeenth season of professional hockey in Reading.
In a significant addition to the team’s executive management team, the Royals announced that Doug Yingst, the former president and general manager of the Hershey Bears and American Hockey League Hall of Famer, has joined the Royals’ as the team’s special advisor for hockey operations.
Owner Jack Gulati will continue to serve as the Royals’ chairman of the board, while Ray Melcher, who has served as the organization’s interim general manager since April, has been formally instated as the chief operating officer for both the Reading Royals and Allen (Texas) Americans, both ECHL teams owned by Mr. Gulati. Melcher will also continue to serve as general manager of the Royals focusing his efforts on business operations.
Yingst will assist Melcher and Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Kirk MacDonald and Assistant Coach Patrick Wellar in all matters related to hockey operations including player personnel decisions, league relations and interactions with the team’s NHL and AHL affiliates, the Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
“We’re pleased to confirm our management team in Reading for the upcoming season,” said Mr. Gulati. “Ray Melcher has done a superb job leading our group since taking over as the interim general manager of the Royals, and we’re confident that he’ll continue his excellent work going forward. He is also going to serve as the chief operating officer for Reading and Allen, which will provide him with oversight responsibilities over the business operations of both teams. With respect to Doug, I don’t think you could find a more qualified candidate to advise a minor professional hockey team on all phases of the organization’s operations. We’re thrilled that he has joined our team as we prepare to launch another ECHL season.”
“I am looking forward to continuing my involvement with the Royals and the Americans,” said Melcher. “We have extremely capable staffs in both Reading and Allen—on both the hockey operations and business sides. I will be based in Reading with day-to-day responsibilities with respect to the business operations of the Royals and will be providing assistance to Allen’s general manager, Matt Canavan. Doug Yingst, who is a highly regarded long-time minor professional hockey executive, and I will serve functionally as co-general managers. I expect Doug and I to complement each other very effectively.”
“I’m excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Royals organization,” said Yingst. “Over the last several months, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking with Mr. Gulati and Mr. Melcher about joining the Royals in a capacity that would be beneficial for everyone, and I’m thrilled we were able to find a role that that fits. I particularly look forward to working with Coach MacDonald and Pat Wellar in the Royals’ quest to build a championship quality team and ultimately to bring another minor pro hockey championship to Pennsylvania.”
Yingst, who began his professional hockey career with the Bears in 1982, served as the organization’s president and general manager from 1998 through 2016. During that time period, Hershey claimed the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Championship four times, tying an AHL record jointly held by several people, including Frank Mathers with whom Yingst worked in Hershey for a number of seasons. During his tenure with the Bears, the team recorded what is thought of as the best five-year run in AHL history, winning three titles and advancing to a fourth playoff final between 2005–10. A two-time recipient of the AHL’s James C. Hendy Memorial Award, which is awarded annually to the executive who has made the most outstanding contribution to the league, Yingst was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2017.
In preparation for the push towards the kick off of the ECHL’s thirtieth season, the Royals have also undertaken several other steps to increase staff and restructure responsibilities within the organization. The team’s marketing department will be overseen by Gregg Lewis, who will also continue in his role as director of merchandising and store operations, for both the Royals and Americans. Lewis will oversee and guide a marketing staff that will include Jake Friedman, who has been tabbed to take over as the team’s game night marketing coordinator in addition to his ticket sales duties, and Calvin Spohn, who will continue to serve as the team’s director of creative services as well as the director of game night activities.
Mark Thompson will continue to serve as the team’s broadcaster and oversee media relations, as well as continue to work with the coaching staff and Doug Yingst on matters related to hockey operations. The Royals also recently hired Temple University graduate Sam Fryman, who hails from Merion, Pennsylvania, to serve as the team’s community engagement coordinator. Fryman’s duties will include spearheading the team’s efforts on social media, managing the team’s community appearances, scheduling the mascot, managing the team’s interns, and serving as the team’s liaison with the Booster Club.
The Royals have also retained Reading native John Long to serve as the team’s chief financial officer. Long will handle all finance and accounting-related matters for both the Royals and Americans. Long will be assisted in Reading by Finance Assistant Jen Reaser, who will be kicking off her fourth season with the Royals.
Mark Wallace, who will be entering his eleventh season with the Royals, will continue in his role as the team’s director of corporate sales and sponsorships. He will be assisted in the corporate sales effort by team’s long-time employee, Dakota Procyk. Wallace will also oversee Reading’s ticket department staff, which includes Client Development Executives Chris Hazel, Ryan Welde and Jake Friedman, as well as Customer Service Manager Matt O’Connor.
To cap off the hockey operations department, Jason MacDonald will return for his second season as the Royals’ head equipment manager, while Sean Berberich will also be back for his second year as the team’s athletic trainer.
Full Season Tickets and Mini-Plans for the Royals’ 2017-18 ECHL season are currently available. Call 610-898-7825 for more information or log onto www.royalshockey.com.