Pair of Royals selected to start ECHL All-Star Game

Two members of a local minor-league hockey club have been selected to start in their league’s All-Star Game.

They’re not Trenton Titans, but Reading Royals.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Denny Urban got the nod on Wednesday to take the ice first in the league’s mid-point competition for bragging rights on January 23 at Loveland, Colorado.

Since being sent down from Hershey of the American Hockey League in late October, Grubauer has ignited his club’s rise to the top of the league standings by going 18-4-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average, .912 save percentage in 24 appearances. The 21-year-old native of Germany was named ECHL’s top goaltender for the month of November and ranks third in the league with 1,424 minutes played.

Urban, a 24-year-old native of Pittsburgh, ranks first in the league amongst blueliners with 13 goals and 26 points, having played in 31 games for Reading this season. He is currently tied for tops in the E with five power-play goals and places second with 91 shots on goal.

Joining them for the opening faceoff will be Stockton defenseman Nathan Deck, forwards Casey Pierro-Zabotel from Gwinnett and Justin Dowling fromo Idaho, along with C.J. Stretch from Ontario.

Reading kicks off the 2013 portion of its schedule in Elmira on Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series.

The Royals will do so with the knowledge that team captain Yannick Tifu has been named the ECHL’s Player of the Month for December.

The 28-year-old native of Quebec helped the Leos go 10-0-1 last month thanks to compiling eight goals and eight assists with a plus-7. He totaled at least one point in 10 of 11 games, posting three game-winning scores.

Two of the runners-up for the honor have Flyers connections: Marcel Noebels of Trenton (now the Phantoms) totaled nine goals and 21 points in 14 games; Luke Pither from Wheeling had 17 points (7G, 10A) in 14 December tilts.