Reading, PA – The Reading Royals of the ECHL, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League and Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League, today announced that the team has hired Kirk MacDonald as the team’s assistant coach for the 2014-15 season. MacDonald will assist Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Larry Courville in all matters related to player personnel, training, and performance, as well as team services and operations. He will begin his new role with the club immediately. Consistent with team policy, terms of MacDonald’s contract with the Royals were not released.
MacDonald’s comments regarding his hiring as the Royals assistant coach can be accessed at: http://youtu.be/zTPrT8MEAH8.
“The Royals are genuinely pleased to bring Kirk MacDonald in as the team’s assistant coach,” said team president Drew Bell. “When our new ownership group took over the Royals, we held a series of meetings with Coach Courville in an attempt to facilitate improvements in all phases of our hockey operations department. One element that was clear was the importance of the assistant coach’s role. We feel that it takes a special person to handle all of the tasks entrusted to the assistant, and we’re confident that Kirk embodies the traits necessary to successfully undertake this role with our club.”
“I’m thrilled to have Kirk as our team’s assistant coach,” said Coach Courville. “I have had him as a player in two separate stints here in Reading, including our 2013 championship run. Through that time, I feel that I’ve come to know Kirk well, and I have repeatedly been impressed by his knowledge of the game, work ethic, resiliency, leadership skills and commitment to the team. He comes to us with significant experience after serving as an assistant at R.P.I. last season. I believe Kirk will be an immediate asset in our efforts to achieve championship quality performance this season on and off the ice.”
Coach Courville added, “I also want to specifically thank our volunteer assistants who served with us last season, Andy Scott and Oktay Armagan. Both Andy and Oktay did an exceptional job for our club and were an invaluable help to me personally. Andy and Oktay were an important part of the team’s success, and we’d certainly welcome their assistance again this year.”
“I’m excited to be back in Reading as the Royals’ assistant coach,” said MacDonald. “Of course, the last time I was with the Royals things ended on the best possible note—the 2013 Kelly Cup Championship. Our goal this year would be to do what is necessary to duplicate those results. I want to express my sincere thanks to Drew and Larry for having faith in me to provide me with this opportunity, and I would like to thank all of the fans in Reading for their support as we pursue our goal of another championship this season.”
This will mark the first pro coaching experience for MacDonald (30), who hails from Victoria, British Columbia. Last season, he served as an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, under Head Coach Seth Appert. R.P.I. finished the season 15-16-8, and the team’s wins included a dramatic and rather explosive 2-1 victory on January 26, 2014, over eventual NCAA Division I National Champion Union College. The Engineers, however, were eventually eliminated from the ECAC Tournament in the first round by Dartmouth College.
As a pro player, MacDonald recorded 217 points (96g-121) and 358 penalty minutes in 406 games over seven-plus seasons. 272 of those games were played with six different teams in the AHL, where he registered 106 points (45g-61a) and 210 penalty minutes. MacDonald also played twenty-four post-season games in the AHL, which included participating in the epic 2008 AHL East Division Semi-Final match-up between the Albany River Rats and the Philadelphia Phantoms—which featured the longest game in AHL history (a five overtime thriller in Game Five). In Game Six of that series, playing for Albany, MacDonald scored his first pro playoff goal, which couldn’t have come at a bigger moment, staking the River Rats to a 1-0 win at the 10:38 mark of overtime and sending that series to a deciding Game Seven, which was ultimately won by the Phantoms.
The following year, MacDonald started the season with Reading, playing a total of 44 games for the Royals (21g-18a=39pts) and earning the team’s Most Valuable Player award. However, during that season, he also earned a pair of call-ups to the AHL, the first to the Iowa Chops in the late January of 2009 and the second, in late February, to the Providence Bruins. That call-up to Providence evolved into a three-season stint with the P-Bruins. MacDonald joined Providence just in time to participate in a remarkable playoff run that would take the team to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals where they were eliminated by the eventual Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears. The following season, MacDonald would be selected to serve as an alternate captain in Providence, and he would earn an NHL contract with the eventual 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
In October of 2012, in the midst of the most recent NHL lock-out, MacDonald returned to Reading, where he was chosen to serve as one of the team’s alternate captains. True to form, MacDonald, who racked up thirty-eight points (16g-22a) and 57 penalty minutes in forty-seven regular season games with the Royals that year, earned a pair of call-ups to the AHL—on February 5 and March 20, 2013—to the Houston Aeros. However, shortly after his second call-up, MacDonald chose to return to Reading where he re-took his position as an instrumental team-leader in the Royals’ efforts to claim the Kelly Cup Championship. MacDonald played all twenty-two playoff games for the Royals in that year’s playoff run, recording twelve points (4g-8a) and thirty penalty minutes. Two of MacDonald’s goals came while the Royals were playing short-handed (tied for league lead with teammate Ian O’Connor)—one of which proved to be the game winning goal in the decisive Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cincinnati Cyclones.
Prior to turning pro, MacDonald had a stellar four season and five year career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After leading R.P.I. in goals (16) and points (36)—and being selected the team’s MVP—in his junior season (2004-05), MacDonald was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which kept him out of action the following year. However, in 2006-07, MacDonald not only returned for his senior season, but he once again led the team in goals (12) and tied for the team lead in points (27). For his efforts, MacDonald, who served as the team captain that season, was voted as R.P.I.’s Most Inspirational Player. That year, MacDonald was also recognized by the Rensselaer Alumni Association with their Community Service Award and was a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which is awarded to college hockey’s finest citizen.
Season Tickets for the 2014-15 Reading Royals ECHL season are currently available. Call 610-898-7825 for more information or log onto www.royalshockey.com.