ECHL: Reading Royals 2023-2024 Season Review

Season Record

It was no secret that Reading had a tough season. It takes a toll on a team, from losing games to losing a head coach in the middle of the season, to not making the playoffs. The Royals concluded the 2023-2024 season with a record of 29-35-6-2. The record at home ended the season with 16-17-1-2. This was the second time in 14 seasons that the Royals failed to qualify for the postseason and the fifth time in franchise history.

Storylines of the Season

  • James Henry Released

A team never wants to lose their head coach, but the Royals lost Head Coach James Henry in the middle of the season. Up until the loss of James Henry, the Royals only had 36 points in 39 games. The record at the time was 16-19-4, having only won three of the last 10 games. During Henry’s first full season as head coach, he had a 41-25-5-1 record, clinching second for the 2022-2023 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The team lost in the second round to the now-defunct Newfoundland Growlers. Following Henry’s departure, Jason Binkley was named Interim Head Coach.

  • Nick Luukko was inducted into the Wall of Honor

Luuko was inducted into the Royals Wall of Honor this season. He ranked third in all-time games having played 274 games. He came in behind Ryan Cruthers with 278 and Olivier Labelle with 298. Luukko notched 25 goals and 62 assists in his time with Reading. He was awarded the Royals Defensive Player of the Year three years in a row (2017, 2018, 2019). He was also awarded the Team Ironman Award in 2019, along with Adam Schmidt and Chris McCarthy.

Luukko spent the 2019-2020 season as Assistant Coach alongside Kirk MacDonald. The 2019-2020 Royals went 37-17-6 in the shortened season. They were one of the teams to clinch postseason play with 80 points and came in behind the Newfoundland Growlers. Luukko is now Head Coach of the Jacksonville Icemen.

  • Matteo Mann signed to ATO

Seventh Round in the NHL Entry Drafted and picked 199th overall by the Flyers in the 2023 Draft, Defenseman Matteo Mann was signed to an Amateur Try Out Contract with the Royals. Mann was the youngest player to grace the Royal’s roster in the 2023-2024 season. He joined two former Royals, Defensemen Dilan Peters, and Forward Spencer Kennedy, as the tallest on the team, coming in at 6’6.

Notable Players

Most Valuable Player- Joe Nardi

Joe Nardi was the most valuable player on the ice for the Royals this season. He led the team in points with 50 points. He tallied 17 goals with 33 assists during the span of 71 games that he played (he was suspended for 1 game). Nardi has seen time in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose and played for the Toledo Walleye. Reading acquired Nardi from the Fort Wayne Komets for cash considerations at the start of the season. Nardi was worth the acquisition, you knew when he was on the ice and was either on the first or second line most of the season. His linemates were typically that of Devon Paliani or Yvan Mongo consistently. Nardi is not afraid to get into the dirty areas and will always play close to the net.

Season to Remember- Devon Paliani

If there is one player on the team who had an incredible season, despite the team record, it is that of forward Devon Paliani. Paliani had a career milestone game of 150 games played. He also had a career year in terms of points. He ended the 2023-2024 season with 16 goals and 27 assists. In the 2022-2023 season, Paliani posted 15 goals with 15 assists. Paliani was often utilized on face-offs during games. He also showed his leadership skills on and off the ice and served as Alternate Captain during the 2023-2024 season. Paliani has an aggressive style in his play but will stick up for his teammates and is always a consistent team player.

Most Improved- Yvan Mongo

Yvan Mongo showed that nothing can slow him down in his sophomore season, including being injured. When Mongo returned from an injury that kept him out for a 13-game stint, he came back struck gold and showed the Reading fans how much he improved as a player from the 2022-2023 season. During this season, Mongo dressed for 55 games. He notched 17 goals and 21 assists in the span of those 55 games. Mongo was on the first or second line with Joe Nardi for most of the season for his scoring ability and speed.

Record-Breaking Season- Mason Millman

Mason Millman had arguably, his best season to date. Not only did Millman surpass 100 professional points this season, but he also surpassed Wall of Honor Inductee Nick Luukko as the leading Defenseman in Points in Reading Royals History. Millman was selected in the fourth round and 103rd overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He consistently produced and came in when the team needed him most. He ended the 2023-2024 season with seven goals and 19 assists. Millman showed that he has improved in translating his 200-foot game and earned several call-ups to the AHL during the season.

Best Rookie- Matt Brown

Matt Brown had a great season offensively in the ECHL and showed the organization that he has a knack for the net. Brown was chosen to represent Reading at the 2024 ECHL All-Star Classic held in Savannah, Georgia this season. In 38 games played for Reading this season, Brown tallied 13 goals with 28 assists. He earned several call-ups to the AHL. Brown will turn 25 years old in the summer and will have a shot at making the AHL roster next season. Brown is extremely fast on the ice and is hard on the puck during play.

Areas for Improvement

With missing the post-season, the Royals will return hungrier and more determined in the 2024-2025 season. Under a new head coach, they will get back to a winning culture. Returning to the regular season with a mix of veterans and rookies will help the team with guys new to professional hockey and guys to learn the game off of.

Storyline for the Offseason

New Head Coach

Jason Binkley was named Head Coach after holding the Interim title since January. Binkley has been the Assistant Coach since October 2022. Binkley is no stranger to the ECHL as he played 313 games with five teams including the South Carolina Stingrays, Utah Grizzlies, Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, and Jacksonville Icemen. Binkley’s career in the ECHL includes 139 points and 111 assists over 313 games. He played 6 games in the EIHL for the Nottingham Panthers, tallying 1 assist. Binkley earned a call-up in the 2019-2020 season to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. In the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons, Binkley assisted with taking Fort Wayne Komets to lengthy playoff runs for the Kelly Cup.

Binkley speaks on being named Head Coach and General Manager of the Reading Royals

“I want to thank our affiliates in Lehigh Valley & Philadelphia. I also want to thank the players & fans. Everyone’s feedback has been nothing but positive as we look to build off the last few months of last season. Finally, I need to thank my wife Danielle and my son Wyatt for being alongside me for this journey and being the great support system they are at home.”

– Reading Royals Head Coach Jason Binkley

It is going to be an interesting off-season for Reading, but change always isn’t a bad thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ECHL: Jacob Panetta Heading Overseas

Defenseman Jacob Panetta is heading overseas to Denmark after spending the last three seasons in the ECHL, all coming with the Jacksonville Icemen. During his three years with the Icemen, he put up 18 goals and 52 assists for 70 points in 169 regular season games and added one goal and three assists for four […]

Read More

ECHL: Orrin Centazzo Heading Overseas After One Season in Toledo

Forward Orrin Centazzo is the latest in a growing list of players to leave the Toledo Walleye and commit to play the 2024-25 season overseas. He is now the eighth player to leave the team in the off-season. Centazzo came to the Walleye last season after spending time with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, […]

Read More

ECHL: Liam Finlay Heading Overseas

Forward Liam Finlay is heading overseas to Scotland after spending just two seasons with the Allen Americans, where he would put up 44 goals and 45 assists for 89 points in 80 games. The 27-year-old winger would have a fantastic rookie year in which he would put up 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 […]

Read More