By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – They’re the longshots, the underdogs, the guys who could be told to pack their bags at any moment.
The Reading Royals training camp roster includes 10 of these invited walk-ons who were given a shot to make the team. It won’t be easy, not with so many players on board under ECHL contracts, and not with more expected to trickle down from the AHL.
“Right now, I’m just living day by day,” said Nick Niedert, a fifth-year goalie. “I come to the rink every day and get on the ice. If Coach doesn’t want to talk to me after practice, it’s a good day.”
The 26-year-old Niedert has bounced around at the Class-A level, making stops in the SPHL and MAHL. If he can’t latch on with the Royals, Niedert will suit up for the Jersey Rockhoppers of the new EPHL.
Realistically, most of the 10 tryout players are likely headed to one of the Class-A leagues, though Niedert is one of the few who has thought that far ahead.
“You always want to have options in your mind, but you just want to take it day by day,” second-year defenseman Matt Curley said. “I guess you can’t be thinking that things aren’t going to work out.”