READING, Penn. – With a chill in the air that could only mean one thing, hockey season is upon us. With hockey season coming close there are plenty of questions still needing answers. For the Royals, once again the big question is who will be the team’s captain. Last year, veteran Derek Whitmore was the captain but he did not re-sign with the team, leaving head coach Kirk MacDonald, and new assistant coach Mike Marcou wondering who will be the next man chosen to become captain. With a good group of veterans on this year’s team, there are a lot of good options out there, but there’s one in my eyes that sticks out, and that’s Chris McCarthy.
The Collegeville, PA native is about to enter his third season with the Royals and has productively gotten better each year. His 22 goals last year were a career high and the second highest on the team, only behind the now-retired Matt Willows. McCarthy has some experience being one of the leaders in the locker room as he was one of the alternate captains during the 15-16 season. Chris was also the captain at the University of Vermont during his senior season.
Now, for who becomes the alternate captains there are a lot of possibilities here. The first one being Nick Luukko, who got an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Luukko currently has 202 regular season games played with the Royals which is the fourth highest on the team and the highest among Royals defensemen all-time. Luukko has a chance to increase his ranking this season as he is 43 games behind fan-favorite Yannick Tifu. Nick has some experience as an alternate captain for Kirk MacDonald’s squad as he was one of the alternate captains for the Royals in parts of the last two seasons.
Another possible alternate captain is Adam Schmidt. Schmidt is currently attending training camp with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and had a pretty successful first year in Reading. Posted 44 points in 58 games, but was a force to be wrecking with when the Royals were on the penalty kill. His excellent skills shorthanded helped Reading have the sixth-best penalty kill in the league last season.
Tyler Brown is the next possible Royal to get an ‘A’ on his jersey. Brown was brought back to the Royals and was named a player/assistant coach for the team. The Royals seemed to play better as a unit when Brown was in the lineup over being in street clothes up in the stands. Like Schmidt and Luukko, there were some instances when Brown was an alternate captain for the Royals last season.
Now, on to some dark horses. One of the fan-favorites on the team is Steven Swavely. The hometown hero will be entering his third season with the Royals, but this will be his first time on an ECHL deal. Swavely has productively gotten better each year while playing in Reading and getting an ‘A’ on his jersey would be hard work finally paid off for the local kid.
The last name we’ll be looking at is Dan Milan. At 26, Milan brings 313 games of ECHL experience to the Royals blueline which is great to have with all the young guys back there. Milan was a thorn in the Royals side with the Wheeling Nailers and fans are hoping he brings that mentality to the team. Milan has some experience as an alternate captain in the league, as he was one with the Wichita Thunder during the 15-16 season.
The Royals team motto this season is Hometown Pride and with the exception of Tyler Brown and Dan Milan, every other player mentioned to possibly be captain or alternate captain is a Pennsylvania born player which could help their cases even more.
The Royals will kick off their 18th season with their season/home opener on Saturday, October 13th against the Worcester Railers. Puck drop is at 7:00 EST. Be sure to follow @SinBinRoyals on Twitter for more news on the Royals throughout the 2018-19 season.