Reading Thirsts For A Winner

By Mark Simon
Special to
February 13, 2004

Located in the hockey hub of suburban Philadelphia, the fans of the Reading Royals are a little impatient for a winner. If the standings had been measured by attendance and passion, the Royals would have been at the top of the chart, but mediocre win-loss records the last two seasons caused some grumblings.

That would explain something that surprised current Royals head coach Derek Clancey.

“Early in the season, we’re among the top couple of teams in the league on the power play, and we didn’t convert a couple in a row in one game at home,” said Clancey, Reading’s third coach in as many seasons. “The fans booed us. That caught me off guard. But it threw us into the mentality that the fans are there to see us win.”

Those moments have been few this season, as the Royals have found the Sovereign Center to be a very comfortable home. Reading has the best home mark in the ECHL at 18-1-2 and enters the weekend at 28-15-7, having won four straight games.

“Our crowds are second to none,” said Clancey, whose last two stops — ending his playing career with the Chesapeake Icebreakers and coaching the Jackson Bandits — allowed him to get used to quiet fans. “The Trenton-Philadelphia-Reading-Hershey hockey loop is hockey crazy. I’ve never seen a building get as loud as this one.”

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