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Royals to Induct Chris Bala into Reading Eagle Wall of Honor

Thursday, January 2nd
Royals to Induct Chris Bala into Reading Eagle Wall of Honor

Reading, PA – The Reading Royals of the ECHL today announced that former team captain Chris Bala will be inducted into the Reading Eagle Wall of Honor on Friday, January 17. The induction ceremony will take place immediately prior to the opening face-off (7:05 pm) at the Royals’ matchup against the Toledo Walleye that night at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania. The first 3000 fans in attendance at that night’s game will receive a Bala commemorative poster courtesy of the Reading Eagle.

Bala, who grew up playing youth hockey in southeast Pennsylvania and currently lives and works in the area, completed his eight year pro hockey career with the Royals, recording 91 points (36g-55a) and 57 penalty minutes in 110 games over four seasons from 2005 through 2009. Known for his world class speed and natural athletic talent, Bala may be better remembered for his character, values and leadership skills that led to his selection as the team’s captain in the 2006-07 season. Prior to arriving to the Royals, Bala forged a noteworthy path in the hockey world, earning admission to Harvard University where he had a stellar four year career, getting selected in the second round (#58 overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, and playing six games with the Senators in the NHL. More recently, Bala has been plying his leadership skills as a member of the staff at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

In 2006, the Wall of Honor was undertaken as a joint project between the Royals and Reading Eagle, the primary local newspaper in the Greater Reading Region, to recognize persons who have made distinctive contributions to the success of the organization. Inductees are honored in a permanent display located on the concourse of Santander Arena. Bala will join current Head Coach Larry Courville, Ryan Flinn, Athletic Trainer Brian Grogesky, Jon Francisco, Cody Rudkowsky, Regan Rome, the ‘Ten Year Season Ticket Holders’, former Equipment Manager Pat Noecker, and Jonathan Quick, who was named as a member of the U.S. Olympic team yesterday (January 1, 2014), on the Wall.

Bala’s plaque on the Reading Eagle Wall of Honor concourse display will read as follows:

If the story of Chris Bala’s hockey career had a title it might be ‘Local Boy Makes it Big in the Big Time’. To be fully accurate, however, you’d probably need a second volume entitled ‘…But He Comes Back Home and Makes it Bigger—and Better’. To be sure, Chris, who as a youngster honed his burgeoning hockey skills in the local rinks near his childhood home in southeast Pennsylvania before attending The Hill School, went about as Big Time as you can get in his college of choice, Harvard University, where his exceptional talent and athletic skill led the NHL’s Ottawa Senators to select him as their second round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. After four years of Ivy League hockey, Chris’ first professional season included a six game stint under the bright lights in the NHL with Ottawa, during which he would notch what would prove to be his lone point in the ‘Show’. From there, Chris would string together four successful seasons in the American Hockey League, where he undoubtedly could have remained for several additional years. But instead (and this may say all you really need to know about Chris), in order to be closer to his wife and budding family, he chose to ply his trade closer to home—and Royals’ fans became the immediate beneficiaries of that decision. From the moment he arrived in Reading, one element Chris’ game immediately caught your eye—and took your breath—his electric speed. Another element may have taken us all a bit longer to appreciate: his solid character. Chris essentially spent two full seasons with the Royals 2005-06 and 2006-07, and his statistics are impressive: 91 points (36g-55a) in 110 total games. But the value of a player like Chris Bala can never be fully measured in a number, a fact which is reflected in his selection as the team’s captain in 2006-07. Although Chris would periodically re-join the Royals through the 2008-09 season for limited ‘as needed’ stints, his pro career essentially came to a close on one of the most hotly disputed goals in Royals’ team history. In a winner-goes-to-the-playoffs game against the Johnstown Chiefs in the final game of the 2006-07 regular season, Chris employed his uncanny hand-eye coordination to bat a puck out of mid-air and into the net to apparently tie the critical regular season finale. Although virtually everybody in the then-Sovereign Center (including Chris) felt that the goal should have counted, the one guy who actually mattered—the referee—didn’t, and he waived the goal off. Chris handled the disputed call with typical grace and professionalism, traits that he’s taken with him as he’s moved on in his life to pursue his life-long passions: his family, his community, and, as a coach deep in knowledge and experience, his efforts to help the next young and upcoming local whiz kid make it big in the Big Time—and, more importantly, to do good in his or her life.

The Royals return to action on Friday, January 3 @ 7:15 pm when the team will travel to Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. The game night broadcast on CBS Sports Radio 1240 am and 98.5 will kick off with the Highmark Blue Shield Warm-Up Show at 6:45 pm on the Royals Broadcast Network. As with all Royals’ road games, Friday’s matchup will be televised locally in Berks County, Pennsylvania on BCTV courtesy of Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations.

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