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by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers today announced a two-year affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals of the ECHL.  The Royals will join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as a Flyers minor league affiliate, which gives the Flyers an entirely Pennsylvania-based minor league system for the first time since 1997-98 when their prospects skated with the Philadelphia Phantoms and the Johnstown Chiefs.

“We are pleased to announce an ECHL affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals,” said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall. "We’re excited to be entering a new era for the Flyers with respect to player development and look forward to working closely with them in a winning environment. The geographic proximity of our minor league affiliations in the Lehigh Valley and Reading will give our coaches and scouting department the best possible platform to monitor, and promote the growth and advancement of our young prospects.”
The Royals won the Kelly Cup Championship in 2013
“I’m looking forward to working with the Flyers coaching and scouting staffs,” said Royals’ Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Larry Courville. “Our goal in Reading has not changed—to put a championship team on the ice. A big part of our success is linked to having an affiliate who is committed to stocking their minor professional system with young, talented players and getting these players as much game time as possible in the early phases of their career. Of course, I’m sure our fans will enjoy watching the Flyers’ prospects assigned to Reading as they pursue their goal of advancing to the highest level of the game, while helping us achieve our team goal of winning another ECHL championship.”
The Royals are headed into their 14th season in Reading.  Prior to moving there, the franchise was based in Columbus, Ohio and played as the Columbus Chill from 1991-99 before making way for the incarnation of the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The Royals won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship in 2013 and have qualified for the post-season nine times, including the last five consecutively.   
Although the Royals have never been formally affiliated with the Flyers, the team did receive two contracted players from Philadelphia on assignment in 2013-14 – goaltender Carsen Chubak and forward Doug Clarkson.
The ECHL is the top AA-level hockey league in the United States, and has been in existence since 1988-89.  The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.  A total of 541 players have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL.
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