By Matt Malinowski
READING, Pa. – Reagan Rome had taken the agonizingly long bus ride to Dayton, Ohio, with his Reading Royals teammates. Partook in the all the daily routines he’d become accustomed to after oh-so many bus rides before.
Eat. Skate. Nap. Eat. Skate. Nap. Maybe some other things to break up the day, perhaps a few phone calls, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And Friday, Feb. 4, was going much the same as any other game day for which Rome had previously prepared. He had just returned from a pregame meal and was set to rest his head on a soft pillow when he received a call.
A call that woke him right up and made the day far from the usual.
A call that was the call.
Call-up, that is.
On the other end of the line was Rome’s brother, Aaron, who is a defenseman with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League. Aaron told Reagan to pack his bags and head for Cincinnati.
“My brother called me and told me before anyone that I had the chance to play in the AHL,” said Rome, who entered Saturday with 13 points and was a plus-15 in 36 games with the Royals this season. “Their GM then called me and asked if I could come and play in a couple of games. I was really looking forward to the opportunity. I was pretty happy to get the call.”
Happy because it was the first time he was loaned to the AHL after playing in 174 regular season games in the ECHL.
Happy because he would be on the same ice, on the same bench and in the same professional locker room with his “little” brother, who just so happens to stand 6-1 and weigh 225 pounds. Reagan, by the way, is listed at 6-2, 200 pounds.
Reagan Rome knew his stint with the Mighty Ducks was temporary. Heck, it was for a mere two games. But he didn’t let that dampen the experience, one in which he helped the Mighty Ducks to two wins and was paired with Aaron for several shifts a night. Reagan was a minus-1 with two penalty minutes in the two games.
Obviously, it wasn’t the first time the two were on the ice at the same time together. They were teammates in junior hockey when they played in Saskatoon of the WHL, and no doubt there were countless times the two simply acted like brothers with a couple sticks and pucks when they were growing up in Nesbitt, Manitoba.
But playing together in Cincinnati, albeit just for a weekend, always will hold a special place in Reagan Rome’s heart.
Because Aaron Rome was more than just his teammate. He’s even more than just his brother.
He’s a friend. And special friends help create special memories.
“We actually were the first brother combination to play for Cincinnati,” Rome said. “It was a great moment for me, and I’m pretty sure he felt the same way. I felt a bit like I had to play better so I didn’t let him down. Overall, I thought I did pretty well.
“Me and my brother spent a lot of time together growing up. We don’t get to spend as much time together now, but when we do it’s always fun.”
Last weekend was no different.