|Forward Matt Herneisen will get a chance to see the rivalry between Dayton and Reading from the other side
when he suits up for the Royals this year
Fans of the Reading Royals have spent the past several years yelling at gritty forward and division foe Matt Herneisen
This season, they’ll be yelling for him.
After three full seasons with the Dayton Bombers, the Gilbertsville, Pa., native is going home. Herneisen will play for his hometown Royals this season following a Sept. 10 deal that sent defenseman Taylor Christie to Dayton.
It will be a drastic change on many levels for Herneisen. Not only does he get to play at home, but he’ll be performing in one of the top markets in the ECHL. The Royals finished sixth in the league last season, drawing an average of 5,368 fans per game at the Sovereign Center.
“I’m really excited,” said Herneisen, who broke into the league with the Trenton Titans in 2003. “Playing against Reading over the years, I’ve taken notice that they have a real good organization. Great building, great fan base. Reading’s home, so it’s win-win for me. It couldn’t be just a team in my hometown. I wanted it to be a good organization, and I’m glad that it is and everything is working out there. The fans are just another bonus. Hopefully they won’t be yelling at me this year.”
Herneisen admitted he was looking for a change heading into this season. After two dismal seasons in Dayton, the Bombers rebounded tremendously last season, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals before falling to the Idaho Steelheads.
“I talked to (Dayton head coach) Don MacAdam about possibly making a move,” Herneisen said. “He was OK with it and he understood. I’ve been in Dayton for a long time, and I kind of paid my dues there over some tough years. Last year was such a good year, I felt that now was the time. I thought it was a pretty good way to leave Dayton.”
There’s no question that more often that not, Herneisen will be playing his home games in front of family members and friends. It’s not unusual for a player to put added pressure on himself in such a situation, but Herneisen doesn’t believe it will affect his play. In the end, it’s more about victories than anything else, especially after coming oh-so-close to winning a championship last season.
“I don’t think so,” Herneisen said of making any changes in his game. “I think I’ve just got to stick to my game and stick to what we’re doing in Reading. I think it will all come together. I’m not too worried about all the people there all the time.”
Royals fans are certainly hungry for bigger things in 2007-08 after missing the playoffs on the final day of the regular season last spring. Head coach Karl Taylor is working to put together a team that he hopes will stick around for most of the season. Reading is unquestionably one of the teams hit hardest by callups to the American Hockey League throughout the season. However, Herneisen likely fits the mold of someone who will spend the majority of the season with the Royals.
“It’s been part of our coaching philosophy,” Taylor said. “I’m trying to move guys up. It’s hurt us at times over the last couple of years. We’re trying to add guys that we’re going to have this year and get some core guys to stem the movement. With Matt being from Reading, obviously that’s a pretty good fit for us. He’s a gritty kid and he’s a guy that we anticipate doing big things for us. It’s not that Matt’s not going to be a callup guy, but we anticipate having him more than not.”
When they do have him, the Royals will undoubtedly receive an injection of grit. Always eager to put on a show for the hometown fans, Herneisen will certainly do his part to help Reading win.
“I’ve always thought I’ve brought a little something to every team,” Herneisen said. “I like to work hard every night and try to hold guys accountable to do the same. I think good things come from hard work. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m a pretty big team guy, so whatever it is — if I’ve got to throw a hit, get in a fight, or maybe score a big goal, that’s what I want to do. Hopefully, this year they make the playoffs and we make a little noise.”
Taylor has his sights set on not only reaching the postseason, but making a serious run at a championship. He realizes just how passionate the fans in Reading are and is attempting to put a smile back on their faces following a disappointing season. The acquisition of Herneisen is certainly a step in the right direction.
“Last year was probably one of the proudest I’ve been of my coaching jobs, because of the adversity we faced,” said Taylor, who is entering his third season behind Reading’s bench. “Yeah, there’s things I would change. The fans are very passionate. We’d rather have that than apathy. If they’re yelling at me, then I know they care.”
Around the ECHL — The Bombers signed rookie center Peter Flache. … The Bakersfield Condors signed forward Tim Konsorada and defenseman Joe Dustin. … The Columbia Inferno signed defenseman Patrick Wellar, who has 168 games of ECHL experience with Peoria and Alaska. The Inferno also hired Paul Marriott as vice president of business operations. … The Wheeling Nailers acquired defenseman Seamus Young from the Victoria Salmon Kings for future considerations. The Nailers also signed forwards Vin Hellemeyer, Jon Foster, Garret Winder and defenseman Chris Brooks. … Victoria signed defenseman Matt Hanson. … Reading signed rookie center Mitch Stephens. … The South Carolina Stingrays re-signed forward Chris Chaput, who went 24-32-56 in 67 games last season. … The Johnstown Chiefs announced an affiliation agreement with the Boston Bruins, along with Providence of the AHL. … The Elmira Jackals signed forwards Benoit Doucet, Patrick Bordeleau, Dan Veenema, along with defenseman Chris Busby.