By Don Stewart
Berks County, Pa. – Thanks to spring-break commuters, the Reading Royals struggled for a full day last week to find Alaska-Anchorage forward Charlie Kronschnabel a flight to Cincinnati. They finally got him on an 11 p.m. overnight plane that included a layover in Seattle.
Despite falling asleep in the Seattle airport and nearly missing his connection, Kronschnabel finally arrived in Cincinnati at 1:30 the next day. He was just in time to board a bus for Dayton, where the 24-year-old joined the Reading Royals and made his pro debut later that night.
“I was a little hollow,” he admitted.
It was a fitting introduction to the wacky world of minor-league hockey.
The 6-foot-4 Minnesota native, who had an assist in that night’s win against the Bombers, has been a nice addition to the depleted Royals’ lineup thus far. Kronschnabel is plus-1 in three games, and he picked up his first pro goal in Sunday’s loss to Wheeling.
“Charlie’s a big body,” said Reading coach Karl Taylor, who has had him on a line with Malcolm MacMillan and captain Chris Bala. “I really like him. He’s very strong on the walls. He seems to be a good team guy and a team leader.
“Obviously, he’s helped us out; he scored the other day. We’re excited to have him.”
His often-butchered German last name is a perfect fit for Pennsylvania Dutch country. In hockey circles, Kronschnabel is normally just referred to as “Kronsch.”
“Oh yeah, (it’s butchered) all the time,” he said. “Some of the boosters were telling me about the nicknames that they came up with. ‘Corn Silo’ and some other stuff. Those are nice compared to the ones I usually get. I’m used to it.”
The Royals were tipped off about “Kronsch” from defenseman Lee Green, a former Alaska-Anchorage teammate. So in a way, the addition of Kronschnabel makes up for Tyler Kindle, who quit after being acquired with Green in a trade for Arpad Mihaly earlier this season.
“He’s the kind of guy who can come in and fit in on any team,” Green said. “Just keeps his mouth shut and works hard. Isn’t gonna take criticism to heart.
“I figured that he could come in and help us. I think he’s done a good job.”
After scoring 56 points in his first three college seasons, Kronschnabel endured a rough senior year.
He broke his leg 13 games into the season and was out until February. Three games after coming back, he took a puck off his foot and suffered a hairline fracture, which cost him another two weeks.
Kronschnabel got back just in time for his team’s near-upset of powerhouse Minnesota in the WCHA playoffs. He wound up with eight points in 22 games on the season.
“It was a really frustrating senior year,” he said. “I did a real extensive workout program last summer. Six days a week, 6 a.m. I was really focused and ready for my senior year.”
Maybe he’ll make up for it with Reading.