Tagged: Reading Royals


It’s a bit of a thinker why 4th year pro Vladimir Nikiforov(9) decided to sign to play with Brooklyn Aviators of the 2nd year Federal Hockey League (FHL) for the 2011/2012 season.

In 10 games, he’s put up a mighty 9 goals and 11 assists; not bad for a pint-sized 5’8″ 170 lbs forward.

Last season he had a pretty ragtag year playing with three different ECHL teams but never able to getting into a scoring groove. In two previous seasons, he posted some impressive numbers with Utah Grizzlies.

He was recently recalled to help Central Hockey League‘s last place Bloomington Blaze and did just that. In his first game with the team, they won against the league’s best team, Allen Americans and he put up an assist.

It’s quite possible that he may have just found his new team for this season.

12/1: Nikiforov scores a natural hat-trick for the Blaze in the last place team’s beating of first place in the Central Hockey League, Evansville IceMen.  In two games, he has 5 points. There was just no way he is going back to the single A level.

12/5: Nikiforov is named Central Hockey League’s Oakley Player of the Week with his 5 goals and 1 assist in his league debut.

Original story: 11/29-11

He would finish the season with Bloomington Blaze scoring 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points in 51 games.

For 2012/2013 he moved on to join the Russian KHL development sort of league VHL signing with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl-2.

He played a full 45 game season along with 5 games in the postseason but only connected for 10 goals and 6 assists.

Maybe his experience overseas led him back or whatever but for 2013/2014 he decided to return to the former Central Hockey League to skate with Quad City Mallards.

He skated 63 games and managed to regain his scoring mojo setting a new assist mark at 31.

To follow up another good season in North America he decided it was once again time to split for a different shore and he inked a term in Germany’s DEL3 with Blue Devils Wieden but blew up the score sheet with 6 goals and 11 assists in 10 games and he sacked that deal and was off to Poland suiting up for Orlik Opole.

He lasted there 13 games, two months and left netting 8 goals and 7 helpers.

Next it was off to England’s EIHL to play out the season with Coventry Blaze and his 1 goal and 3 assists in 7 games was like the wind had been taken out of his sails from all the traveling.

Going into his 8th pro season, the soon-to-be 28-year old returns to Quad City Mallards but moves up a level of hockey to the ECHL, where he last played games in 2011.

Our money’s on him producing big.


Undrafted center Tyler Gron(37) signs his first pro hockey contract to skate with Reading Royals of the ECHL for his rookie season, 2012/2013.

He was signed late last season to an ato by Bridgeport Sound Tigers after his college playing career concluded. In three AHL games he had no goals and one helper with a -2 plus/minus.

If he can mark up the scoring sheet as consistently as he did in college, look for the 5’11” 201 lbs., almost 23-year old to receive a call up sooner than later.

Original story: 8/16-12

He would be ready to start his first year with Reading but was released from his contract at the start of the season.

One week later he signed with Bloomington Thunder of the now defunct Central Hockey League and after striking for 21 goals and 14 assists in 31 games was spotted by Idaho Steelheads, who got him under contract for the remainder of his initial pro campaign.

He basically went on to match his early season numbers scoring another 21 tallies with 11 assists in 34 ECHL games and a +8 rating.

Come 2013 Kelly Cup Playoff time he really popped as he struck for 8 goals and 5 assists in 17 contests.

It would take him a little bit to decide to head back to the great Pacific Northwest for continued time with the Steelheads but that’s where he started his sophomore year.

After 13 games with low scoring totals, he was traded to San Francisco Bulls, where once again he exploded on the score sheet with 14 goals and 10 assists with a +7 plus/minus in 18 games on a terrible team.

Just after the new year, he would get his first AHL recall and sign a contract on the next day with Worcester Sharks.

That marriage would last a little over a month for 14 games, hitting the back of the net twice and tossing in one helper.

On his whirlwind second season he found his way to a fourth squad being sent to new affiliate Ontario Reign to finish 2013/2014.

For 2014/2015 he decided to pick up his game and take it elsewhere signing with Milano Rossoblu of Italy’s top league, where he put in 24 goals and 21 assists in 32 games, easily outmatching opponents.

The 25-year old heads to Germany’s DEL2 and should be better challenged skating for Ravensburg Towerstars.



Hershey Bears‘ rookie center T.J. Syner(84) has done the 60 minute drive to and from affiliate Reading Royals for games so many times in the month of February his car probably knows the route automatically.

He’s at 7 and it’ll end there, because he’s joining the team for a Florida swing of games. There seems to be a method to the wacky races madness, because in 10 ECHL games he has 4 goals and 7 assists. They hope he can convert the same success to the higher league.

In 34 AHL games he has 3 goals and 4 assists.

At 5’9″ 179 lbs. the 24-year old is definitely on the small side but has the ability to get into those open areas and bury his chances, which is what he’ll need to do with frequency to stay on Washington Capitals‘ radar. He was in their development camp and has a player profile on their site but there’s no information about his contract anywhere.

At the rate he’s playing he could suit up for almost 100 games this season depending who he plays with in the postseason (maybe both) and how deep they go.

Original story 2/28-13

He finished his first season playing 36 AHL games and kept those 3 goals and 4 assists mark with a +1 rating but in the lower league he would only play an additional 6 to 16 ECHL games as his totals swelled to 9 goals and 10 assists, then en route to a 2013 Kelly Cup Championship he helped chipping in 9 tallies and 12 helpers in 22 games with a +22 rating.

He signed once again with Hershey for his sophomore campaign but spent most of the time down with Reading Royals skating a career high 56 games, scoring 19 goals, 25 assists and 44 points with a +12 plus/minus. But at only 64 shots on net, he clearly doesn’t shoot the puck nearly enough.

He had no points in 4 postseason contests before splitting for inter-league rival Utah Grizzlies in 2014/2015.

Sidelined by injuries he was limited to 45 games scoring 15 goals and 16 assists but then popped back to scoring life in the playoffs connecting for a pair of goals and 6 assists in 11 games through the Western Conference Finals.

He’s decided to stay put once again signing for 2015/2016 with the Grizzlies.

Crazy to think that he’ll be entering his 4th pro season and will turn 27-years old near the beginning of the new hockey calendar.

Also, can’t forget he started late after a pretty storied four year career at UMass-Amherst.


Undrafted center Chris Langkow(54) started his fourth pro season much like he did the three previous campaigns, signed for a one-year minor league deal to play in the ECHL.

He posted career highs in scoring last season with 20 goals and 41 points, first with Reading Royals, who he signed with in the off-season and then traded to South Carolina Stingrays.

The 6’1″ 185 lbs. forward re-signed for another campaign with the Stingrays but after getting off to a fast start was loaned to Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the second time in his career and made it stick.

He was first with the team for most of the year in 2011/2012 but only appeared in 7 games scoring a goal and 4 assists before succumbing to injury and being returned to Alaska Aces some 4 months later.

He won the Kelly Cup with the Aces in his rookie season and was impressive throughout.

The 24-year old recently signed an spc to play out the remainder of the regular season in southern Connecticut.

His grinding 4th line style of play works well with the young Bridgeport team and with AHL career highs in games played (35), goals (2) and assists (7) he has the ability to dot the score sheet.

It would be no surprise to see him score a higher league contract out of the gate in 2014/2015. After all, he is a Langkow.

Original story: 2/9-14

He did manage to secure a deal to stay with Bridgeport Sound Tigers for 2014/2015 and played in a career high 69 AHL games scoring a best 8 goals but his assists and point production did tick down slightly from the previous campaign.

Heading into the new season the 6th year veteran somewhat surprisingly moves back into the ECHL signing with Elmira Jackals.

He should be invited to a higher league’s training camp and could impress enough with his spark plug style game to earn a spot, so we’ll see where the soon-to-be 26-year old ends up lacing up his skates.



5th year undrafted Russian-born left wing Nikita Kashirsky(5) re-signs for another run with Reading Royals after being an integral part of the 2013 Kelly Cup Championship team.

In 41 ECHL games last season he struck for 17 goals and 27 assists with a +11 rating and didn’t stop there as he appeared in all 22 playoff contests connecting for another 5 tallies and 15 helpers with a +12 plus/minus. His 15 assists in the postseason were tied for the league lead.

Skating most of his pro career with a few different ECHL clubs, he’s managed to put up 161 points (66 + 95) in 191 games and win two Kelly Cup Championships (2009 South Carolina Stingrays).

He received 3 AHL call-ups in his first two seasons with Springfield Falcons, Manitoba Moose and Hershey Bears but the 6′ 196 lbs. forward has been unable to score himself a permanent gig for a higher club despite his very able point production in the lower league.

The 28-year old has maybe a bit surprisingly played almost all his hockey in North America except for one game in the KHL.

Original story: 7/23-13

For 2013/2014 he actually left to explore new territory signing a one-year deal with Dundee Stars of the EIHL.

In 51 games he would duplicate what he was basically doing all along, being a point-per-game player connecting for 23 goals and 33 assists.

Following up that performance he decided to return to the his comfort zone, inking for the year with Wichita Thunder.

Although he maybe didn’t reach the scoring heights of previous campaigns he still managed a quite healthy 16 goals and 23 assists in 64 games on a team that failed to make the postseason.

Now 30-years old (which seems a bit crazy) he has agreed to skate 2015/2016 with Greenville Road Warriors, marking his 6th stint in the ECHL.


8th year, undrafted veteran center Yannick Tifu(10) captured his first Kelly Cup Championship as team captain with Reading Royals after 400 regular and 57 postseason ECHL games.

He was only ever close to grabbing a title back in 2007, when he was a first year player in the league and went to the Finals with Dayton Bombers.

The 28-year old forward has spent 7 seasons with 7 different ECHL teams and scored over 500 points (170 goals and 342 assists) with an astonishing +62 rating. He was the leading scorer in the 2013 playoffs with 25 points.

Although he has appeared in 81 AHL contests, he’s never had any luck sticking despite putting up decent numbers with 9 goals and 23 assists and signing a one-year deal with Binghamton Senators in 2010.

He ended up skating most of that season with their affiliate, Elmira Jackals.

He’s not the biggest skater at 5’11” 203 lbs. but easily effective enough to get the job done quite well.

Chances are he’ll re-sign for a third season in Reading but it could also be time for him to earn some better money by moving his game to some European ice.

Original story: 5/28-13

After winning the ECHL title he went on to re-sign with Reading Royals to resume as team captain.

He didn’t have as stellar a season and for the first time playing in the league failed to be a point-per-game guy and was a quick exit with the team from the playoffs.

Quite possibly he felt that was an indicator, so he signed for the first time in his pro career to play hockey in another country.

Not quite sure why he chose France but he once again upped his average and had plenty of success with Les Ducs d’Angers scoring 14 goals and 21 assists in 26 games and added another 7 points (3-4) in 10 playoff contests.

For his 11th season, he will turn 31-years old when it starts, he returns to North America signing for 2015/2016 with Brampton Beast.

We’ll see how he fares on the score sheet with this still developing 2nd year group.  You can just about bet he’ll be pegged to captain the young squad though.

And you know you’ve had a long career when 5 of the teams you’ve played for don’t exist anymore.


Undrafted sixth year center Justin Hodgman(12) had already won two IHL Turner Cup Championships with Fort Wayne Komets while he was still playing in the OHL with Erie Otters.

He was also named MVP in both those seasons with a combined 14 goals and 12 assists in 24 playoff games.

These scoring totals were much in line with his last three seasons of juniors, where he averaged a point-per-game.

In his rookie year he was even allowed while under contract with Toronto Marlies to be released back to the Komets to play for their third straight title.

From there he played a full season for the Marlies, despite a brief 3 ECHL game stint with Reading Royals.

His point totals were even half decent at 12 goals and 17 assists in 42 AHL games with a +7 rating.

But by the next season he split for Europe and agreed for a year with Pelicans of Liiga in Finland.

The 6’1″ 203 lbs. forward continued to climb the hockey ladder spending his next pair of campaigns in the KHL mostly with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

For 2014/2015 he decided to return home and seek out a deal closer to home.

Arizona Coyotes unceremoniously signed him to a one-year, two-way contract. He was on the opening night roster after a fantastic training camp in which he netted a team high 4 preseason goals.

Although very much pleasantly surprised by his efforts, he sat the first two games as a healthy scratch before being reassigned to minor league affiliate Portland Pirates. He played three games at the beginning of their season, recording no points.

Recalled quickly due to an injury, he made his NHL debut count, scoring the game-tying goal on his only shot on net, skated 16 shifts and 11:27 total time on ice with 2 penalty minutes.

The 26-year old has made quite the journey through 3 minor leagues and 2 pro leagues overseas to finally get his opportunity in the show.

Original story: 10/28-14

After his first year back in North America after 3 seasons overseas and his 1st NHL goal, the recently turned 27-year old signs for 2015/2016 with St. Louis Blues on another two-way deal.

He skated in 5 games with Arizona Coyotes on two recalls and played in a new AHL high 62 games with a new best 24 assists and 35 points.

He just may make the parent club out of training camp, but even if he heads to start the season with affiliate Chicago Wolves he’ll likely be one of the first from the farm club to get summoned.



Washington Capitals‘ 4th round pick in the 2010 draft (#112 overall), German-born goaltender Philipp Grubauer(31) has been stonewalling the offense in the ECHL through his first year and a half in the league.

He was the starter for South Carolina Stingrays in his rookie campaign going 23-13-5 in 43 appearances with a 2.22 GAA and .918 SV%.

The 6′ 180 lbs. net minder took up in his sophomore season where he left off posting a 19-5-1 record in 26 games and a 2.30 GAA and .912 SV% for Reading Royals before being recalled to split duties for Hershey Bears.

He’s off to an impressive start with a 2-2 mark and another solid 2.05 GAA and .926 SV%.

The 21-year old signed a 3-year entry level deal that keeps him in the system through 2015 and if it wasn’t for the logjam in the AHL net last season, he may have scored some playing time.

He recently was also cleared to attend the ECHL All-Star Game, where he was chosen as a starter and got the nod to kick off the festivities between the pipes. For now he’s having fun but could figure into the Capitals‘ long term plans pretty easily.

Original story: 1/24-13

In the 2013/2014 season he would be one of the few players each year to play a game in all three tops leagues: NHL, AHL and ECHL.

It would also signify the last time the net minder would see double A hockey as he would play 17 games with the Caps in 2013/2014 posting a 6-5-5 record with a 2.38 GAA and .925 SV%.

Even though he saw only one game with the parent club in 2014/2015, due to a veteran goalie signed in the off-season taking on most of the back-up role.

He would however be called on to start a first round Stanley Cup Playoff game getting the win, two firsts for a German-born backstop.

The only 23-year old signs a 2-year one-way extension but still may spend some time with the farm club to continue to hone his skills.

Philipp Grubauer


Louie Caporusso

3rd year left wing Louie Caporusso(11) signs a one-year contract with 2013 Kelly Cup ChampionsReading Royals for 2013/2014.

He was originally an Ottawa Senators‘ 3rd round pick in the 2007 draft (#90 overall) and played a couple of seasons with minor league affiliates Binghamton Senators and Elmira Jackals.

In 36 AHL games he scored a single goal with 5 assists, which isn’t that amazing but in 70 ECHL match-ups he’s a point-per-game guy at 35 goals and 42 assists with a +20 rating. He continued on that scoring tear in 6 playoff games, getting a pair of tallies and 6 helpers.

The small looking 5’10” 200 lbs. forward was also a sniper in four years of NCAA hockey at University Of Michigan posting 68 goals and 76 assists in 160 games with an outstanding +48 plus/minus.

At still only 24 years old the former Hobey Baker Award finalist will be added to an already deep talent pool and definitely help the Royals defend their title in the upcoming campaign.

Original story: 8/16-13

After attending a week of Worcester Sharks‘ training camp, he reported back to Reading to start the season and once again was putting up lots of points (7-21-28 in 24 games) before deciding halfway through to split overseas and skate the remainder of the campaign with Augsburger Panther of DEL, where he continued on a similar tear.

He resigned with the team for another year and although his production slipped slightly he was still connecting with the net on a regular basis finishing 2014/2015 with 15 goals, 23 assists in 47 games.

For his 5th pro season, he signs on with the enemy, agreeing to play for Iserlohn Roosters and at only 25-years old he’s probably still just getting started.


Washington Capitals‘ defenseman Julien Brouilette(29) waited six pro seasons before scoring his first NHL contract.

He was signed for the last couple years with AHL affiliate Hershey Bears and in camp with the parent club, so was definitely being watched.

The still small-ish 5’11” 196 lbs. blue liner is having a career year for goals, 9 in 37 games and is on his way to a new high for overall points.

On his first recall he notch his first point, an assist and left the game with a +2 rating. In his next appearance he would score his first goal, the game winner, and had another +2 in a second team win.

The 27-year old skated a single game with ECHL affiliate Reading Royals last season and this year is on a short list for recalls to the show.

He started his pro career in the double A league under contracts with Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Checkers twice and Greenville Road Warriors, but ended up skating double the amount of games in 2010/2011 with Lake Erie Monsters. This was just the start of his ascent.

Playing his junior hockey with he showed an early offensive upside posting over 40 assists in his final pair of campaigns.

This is a ton of hard work in progress, but from early games in the big league seems like a good player to have around.

Original story 3/2-14.

After playing under contract with Winnipeg Jets‘ last season, spending all but one appearance with the big club in the minors, heading into his 9th year he will test the waters overseas as he has signed on with Karlskrona of the SHL and should do well playing a more wide open system.

See related: 10/23-12