The Reading Royals have faced quite a bit in the last few years, with numerous playoff runs that had nail-biting finishes that left Royals’ fans begging for more. One man saw those glorious moments and has risen through the ranks to become the newest coach to Royals, former Adirondack Thunder forward James Henry.
James Henry is no stranger to the ECHL, in fact, he spent the entirety of his professional career with the former Stockton Thunder and finished his career with the Adirondack Thunder. The Reading Royals are no stranger to the Stockton Thunder. It was in the 2012-13 season that the Royals took home their first Kelly Cup against the Thunder, one year before Henry left the University of Manitoba and joined the team. Henry played two seasons with the Stockton Thunder, appearing in a total of 138 games between those seasons, earning 79 points before finishing out his professional career with the Adirondack Thunder.
Henry spent a total of five seasons with the Adirondack Thunder, starting in the 2015-16 season. In his five seasons with the Thunder, he played in a total of 303 games, with his final season in 2019-20 being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During those five seasons, Henry was no stranger to Reading, facing the Royals numerous times throughout his time with the Thunder, getting a true taste of what Reading had to offer well before his days as coach. Even before his days in Reading, he had a taste of the “C” life, becoming quite the popular player for Thunder fans who were surely unhappy with his trip down south to one of the team’s biggest rivals.
Before Henry became head coach of the Royals, he spent some time as the assistant coach under former head coach Kirk MacDonald when the Royals returned to hockey after a small hiatus due to the shutdown. Fans, as most would be, were unsure of the new assistant, as they were comfortable with a former assistant, now head coach of the Jacksonville Icemen, Nick Luukko, who was a fan favorite while he played with the Royals, sporting the “C” for quite a while with the Royals before moving up to the coaching world. After the 2021-22 season, MacDonald moved on from the Royals, giving Henry the opportunity to move up and run the show. In his first season as head coach, Henry brought the Royals to the Kelly Cup playoffs, where they beat the Maine Mariners in the first round but sadly fell to the Newfoundland Growlers in the Division Finals. Coach Henry is now going into his second season as head coach for the Royals, and fans are excited to see what he has in store for them in the 2023-24 season.