Chris McCarthy finished the regular season tied for 2nd in the league with 54 assists and 3rd at 74 points. It is the second season in a row and the third time ever a Royals player has finished in the league’s top-three in points (2017-18: Matt Willows, 3rd, 74 pts. | Brian McCullough, 3rd, 95 pts.). The Collegeville, PA native finished 3rd in a Royals single season in assists and 4th in points. McCarthy ranks 4th in Royals history in goals (61), assists (119) and points (180). He was named to the 2018-19 All-ECHL 2nd team.
Royals players contributed 71 hours of volunteer work to the community in 2018-19, most notably appearing at the Hope Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Reading YMCA and the Miller Keystone Blood Center to give back to those in need in the community. Around the holidays, Royals players delivered bears to children at Tower Health, local preschools and nursing homes. Royals players also continued their own charitable initiatives outside of team hours; Andrew D’Agostini won the Royals’ Community Service Awards and helped to launch his Saves4CF program in Reading, the fourth city he’s helped bring Cystic Fibrosis Awareness to.
Six Pennsylvania natives played on the Royals this season – Steven Swavely (Reading), Chris McCarthy (Collegeville), Adam Schmidt (Warrington), Nick Luukko (Westchester), Joe Houk (Richboro) and Corey Mackin (Philadelphia). Reading also featured three players from New Jersey and seven from New York.
Six of Reading’s final nine home crowds topped 4,000 fans. The Royals averaged the fourth-most fans a game in the North Division.
Captain Nick Luukko registered points in his final two games to jump into sole possession of the Royals record for points by a defenseman (87).. He topped Royals blue liners in goals (10) and points (32).
For the third straight season, the Royals took the fewest PIM in the ECHL (697, 9.68/game). Reading also ranked as the most-disciplined in minor penalties (266) and 10-minute misconducts (1). The Royals went to the penalty kill the fewest times (233) of any ECHL team. Last season, Reading recorded 658 PIM, the fewest by any team in ECHL history (9.14/game).
Josh MacDonald topped Reading with 28 goals and finished second with 57 points, both single-season highs. He registered five multi-goal games, nearly doubling his career total in one campaign (12). The fourth-year professional played the majority of the regular season with Chris McCarthy and tied with Frank DiChiara for the team lead in power-play goals (7). DiChiara doubled his goal (16) and point (42) totals in his second professional season.
The Royals penalty kill (82.0%) and power play (16.5%) each finished 16th in the ECHL, but both trended upward by the end of the season. From Feb. 3 to the end of the campaign, Reading killed off 74 of 84 opponent opportunities (88.1%). The Royals man up scored on five of 28 opportunities (17.8%) in the last three weeks of the season.
Seven 2018-19 Royals played for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Michael Huntebrinker played parts of three months with the Phantoms. He, Josh MacDonald and goaltender Branden Komm played in their first career AHL games this season. Steven Swavely signed with the Royals this offseason and was rewarded with an AHL deal Jan. 2.
Eight goaltenders suited up for Reading, tying the most to play for the Royals in a season. Jamie Phillips played the final 11 games of the season, ending his campaign on an eight-game point streak. He finished tied for 3rd in the ECHL with 27 wins and eighth with a 2.51 goals against average (27-11-2-1 record). Phillips joined Reading in early March after the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) reassigned him to Reading.
The Royals’ end-of-season six-game winning streak was the second-longest of the campaign. The win streak and the eight-game point streak to end the season were the longest Reading has ever had to end a campaign. No ECHL team finished on a longer win or point streak than Reading.
Tyler Brown scored 11 goals, the most he has scored in a season since 2014-15. He capped off the regular season with a pair of goals in the final two games against Adirondack. The alternate captain and player-assistant coach finished his 8th professional season with 471 regular season games and 25 postseason games combined between the ECHL and AHL. This campaign marked his 5th within the Flyers organization (3 with Adirondack Phantoms, 2 with Royals).
The Royals finished 3rd in the league in shots per game (33.6) and 7th in shots against (30.2). From Feb. 6 to the end of the season, the Royals fired the most shots of any team in the league on goal a game (997 total, 35.6/game).
In arguably the most-unique story of Reading’s season, 36-year-old goaltender Nick Niedert backstopped the Royals to a 2-1 win over Adirondack Nov. 24 with 38 saves (1 GA), the most he’s ever made in an ECHL game. It was his first ECHL game in four seasons. Niedert has played for 28 teams in eight professional leagues. He was supposed to be Reading’s emergency back-up goaltender for the Nov. 24 game, but an injury to Angus Redmond forced Niedert to sign an ECHL deal hours before the game and suit up. The win earned national acclaim on NBC Sports and Barstool Sports’ “Spittin’ Chiclets” Podcast. Niedert also played for the Elmira Enforcers (FHL) this season.
Brayden Low enjoyed a breakout season, becoming a fixture on the Royals’ third line and finishing the campaign with 15 goals and 33 points. Low also completed the campaign with a plus-seven rating, the first time he’s been above sea level in plus-minus. He, Kevin Goumas and Tyler Brown were named the starting forwards for the majority of the final ten games of the season.
Forty-seven players appeared in a game for Reading, four more than last season and the most to play for the Royals in a single season since the 2012-13 Kelly Cup Championship team (48). The last time more than 50 wore the Royals uniform in a game during a season was 2011-12 (52).
Forward Alex Roos turned into one of the more-remarkable turnaround stories in recent Reading memory. Acquired by the Royals in October from Cincinnati for future considerations, the Royals released Roos in November and Head Coach Kirk MacDonald asked Roos to “pack slowly.” Days later, Roos re-signed with Reading and went on to tally his first professional goal two weeks later vs. Allen. Over the final 3.5 months of the season, Roos scored 16 goals and finished with 35 points to lead Royals rookies.
Three Royals players – Adam Schmidt, Nick Luukko and Chris McCarthy – played in all 72 Royals games, marking the first time in team history three players have skated in every game during a regular season. Schmidt enjoyed a career year and hit the 20-goal mark for the first time (23g, 52 pts.). He finished second on the team in goals and third in points.
MVP: Chris McCarthy
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Luukko
Rookie of the Year: Alex Roos
Unsung Hero: Brayden Low
Community Service: Andrew D’Agostini
2018-19 In Review:
34-28-4-6, 78 points | Home: 16-15-2-3 | Away: 18-13-2-3
3.18 GF/gm (16th) | 3.18 GA/gm (16th)
Power play 16.5% (16th) | Penalty Kill 82.0% (16th)