By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – His last name is so fitting that it’s tough to believe he didn’t make it up. Between the pipes, Jonathan Quick is definitely, well, quick. No matter the situation, there doesn’t seem to be a puck he can’t reach.
The University of Massachusetts product also is adapting to the pro game rather quickly.
He’s 3-3-0 in six starts with the Reading Royals, but Quick’s goals-against average (2.18) and save percentage (.927) are among the top 10 in the ECHL among backstops with three or more appearances.
“He’s a great goalie,” Royals coach Karl Taylor said. “He has tons of potential. I believe the only thing that’s gonna get in his way is him. He’s going to get an opportunity based on his ability, and who knows what the limit is as far as where he can go?”
The highest UMass player ever taken in the NHL draft (72nd in 2005), Quick is generating more buzz within the Los Angeles Kings system than perhaps any prospect ever assigned to Reading.
The Kings actually have taken the rare step of sending assistants to Reading. Goaltending coach Bill Ranford is expected to be in town this weekend to check up on Quick. His assistant, Kim Dillabaugh, was in Reading last month.
“I know I feel more secure with him than any of those (L.A.) guys,” Taylor said. “I believe his upside is higher than those other guys.”
The Royals knew about Quick’s ability, but it took the team’s recently completed Southern road trip for the Connecticut native to prove himself.
Playing five games in seven nights, Quick helped Reading go 3-2 on the trip. He made 32 saves in each of his wins, including a 3-0 shutout Oct. 24 at Pensacola that saw him credited with an empty-net goal.
That win against the Ice Pilots, Quick’s first as a pro, chased any doubts that lingered from the 21-year-old rookie’s shaky start in the season opener at Trenton. Quick struggled early in giving up three goals on 20 shots in that 3-2 loss.
“The first game against Trenton, I didn’t really get a chance to play as well as I felt I could,” he said. “The second game in Pensacola, it was good for me to be able to bounce back and do well for my team. It felt good to be able to help them out with a win.”
Quick also got wins Oct. 27 at Mississippi and Tuesday at Gwinnett. Mississippi was playing at home for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, and Gwinnett was the last unbeaten team in the league.
In between those two wins, Quick had a rough afternoon in a 5-1 loss at Gwinnett. It was Reading’s third road game in three nights, and the team didn’t have much left in the proverbial tank.
In the third period, Taylor asked his goalie if he wanted to leave the game. That was the last thing Quick wanted.
“What I’ve learned from these games is he’s very competitive,” Taylor said. “He begs for the ice time. He wants to play every game he can.”
Quick didn’t expect to start his career in Reading, and don’t be surprised if his stay is a short one. But while he’s here, Quick is focused on improving and helping his team.
“I just have to make myself better at all areas of the game,” he said. “I’m young, so I know I still have a lot to learn. I’m just trying to keep my ears open and pick up as much experience as I can.”