The Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to an extension of their affiliation agreement with the Reading Royals of the ECHL, according to President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Chuck Fletcher. The agreement covers the 2019-20 season and includes an option for the 2020-21 season.
"We are very happy to extend our relationship with the Reading Royals," said Fletcher. "Over the last five years, we have seen how advantageous it has been to have each of our minor league affiliates, which includes the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, in close proximity to Philadelphia, as we continue to develop players within the Flyers system."
"We are honored to continue our strong partnership with the Flyers and hope to continue to develop players for the Phantoms and Flyers while maintaining our goal of bringing a second Kelly Cup to Reading," said Reading Royals General Manager David Farrar.
"Our affiliation has provided Royals players the chance to develop within a first-class organizational structure where prospects are given the proper attention and coaching necessary to reach the next level," said Royals head coach Kirk MacDonald. "We take pride in helping to advance the Flyers' prospects and continue the strong and winning culture built in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and Reading."
The 2019-20 season will mark the sixth consecutive year that the Flyers have partnered with Reading as their ECHL affiliate. The Royals will continue to receive players designated for assignment from the Flyers and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The three teams form the closest affiliation chain in professional hockey, with Reading's Santander Arena located 39 miles southwest of Lehigh Valley's PPL Center and 67 miles northwest of Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center. Meanwhile, the Phantoms play 70 miles north of Wells Fargo Center.
Over the last five seasons, 32 players have skated with the Royals and advanced to Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia. In Jan. 2018, forward Tyrell Goulbourne became the first former Royals player to progress from Reading to Philadelphia. Two months later, goaltender Anthony Stolarz made a three-game rehab stint with the Royals on his way back to NHL. Royals Head Coach Kirk MacDonald is entering his third season as Head Coach and has been on Reading's coaching staff since the team began its affiliation with Philadelphia.
The Royals are entering their 19th ECHL season and are proudly affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Royals won the Kelly Cup in 2013, have made the playoffs 14 times, and are four-time division champions. The Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA), founded in 1996, owns the Royals and oversees operations at Santander Arena and the Santander Arena Performing Arts Center.