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ECHL’s Reading Royals, NAHL’s Aston Rebels give Flyers fans some other playoff options

There’s still playoff hockey in the immediate area despite the Flyers’ early exit this spring.

The Flyers are not playoff bound, but there has been no trickle-effect down to the area’s other hockey teams.

As we discussed earlier today, the Phantoms are likely headed to the AHL postseason for the first time since 2009 barring something unforeseen happening in their final regular season games. The Reading Royals are playoff-bound, too, kicking off their ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs on Thursday at home against the Brampton Beast.

Here’s their full schedule, via the ECHL:

  • Game 1 – Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading
  • Game 2 – Saturday, April 15 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading
  • Game 3 – Tuesday, April 18 at 7:15 p.m. at Brampton
  • Game 4 – Thursday, April 20 at 7:15 p.m. ET at Brampton
  • Game 5 – Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m. ET at Brampton (If Necessary)
  • Game 6 – Monday, April 24 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)
  • Game 7 – Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. ET at Reading (If Necessary)

The team has gone through some late season drama despite their second-place finish in the North Division. Head coach and team legend Larry Courville — who has the number from his playing days hanging in the rafters and who brought a Kelly Cup to Reading as a coach — was fired with just three games left in the regular season due to a contract dispute with ownership.

But it sure seems like more than just your run-of-the-mill failure to come to terms in a negotiation. From the Reading Eagle:

Exactly how the Royals and their most recognizable figure reached this point is understood only by the parties involved. Or, as one person put it, there were three sides to the story: Courville's, Gulati's and the truth. How it was handled felt callous and the players weren't happy about it.

So, uh ... yeah. Assistant coach Kirk MacDonald is serving in an interim role. It feels like things are pretty awkward down there. Familiar names on the Reading club as we enter the playoffs include defensemen Reese Willcox, Nick Luukko, and Jesper Petterson, and forwards Tyrell Goulbourne and Steven Swavely. Tickets for home Royals playoff games at Reading’s Santander Arena are on sale starting at $12.50.

One other local club has championship dreams as well. The North American Hockey League’s Aston Rebels, who play out of IceWorks in (you guessed it!) Aston, will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in Round 1 of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Aston beat WB/S nine of 12 times during the regular season.

The NAHL is the second-highest level of junior hockey in the United States, a step behind the United States Hockey League. The Rebels have seven NCAA Division I commitments and, with a 46-11-2-1 record, were easily the best team in the NAHL during the 2016-17 season.

Here’s Aston’s Round 1 schedule:

  • Game 1: Fri, April 14 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home)
  • Game 2: Sat, April 15 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home)
  • Game 3: Fri, April 21 at 7:30 pm at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston, Pa. (away)
  • Game 4: Sat, April 22 at 7:30 pm at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston, Pa. (away, if necessary)
  • Game 5: Mon, April 24 at 7 pm at IceWorks in Aston (home, if necessary)

Tickets to home games are $7 and seating is general admission.