Historic season hangs by a thread.
Reading Celebrates the Kelly Cup
Members of the Royals arrive at the Sovereign Center in style on a Reading FD truck, with Alex Berry reminding the crowd that They’re Number One! (Photos Credit: M. Richter)
“I’ll sign from here! I’ll sit later!”
The rugged Quebecois-accented voice of Yannick Tifu booms over the din of the crowd. The captain of the Kelly Cup-winning Reading Royals has rarely stopped moving since he led his teammates down Penn Street.
Though a table with Russians Stanislav Galiev and Nikita Kashirksy awaits the 28-year-old on the Sovereign Center floor, since the team speeches ended, Tifu can’t stop moving. While his teammates take their designated seats to sign for the crowd on this Wednesday night, the people engulf Tifu–eyes bright, a smile of broken teeth never fading.
On an April night, it’s the kind of chant that might confuse a newcomer as the home team turns a rebound into a rush. But tonight, the ice is gone and Mark Owuya is free of his goalie armor. Uncovered, his energy is as electric as the crowd–
“I, uh, always wanted to do that.”
Despite the explosive open, the Swede’s ensuing speech is short, humble, gracious. Just as he’s about to escape the spotlight, his captain runs across the stage to pull him back.
Tifu is the MC to Owuya’s “Mark in Da Park,” urging the former Swedish Idol star to rap. The seconds stretch as the crowd lingers in the “Will he or won’t he?” feeling, wondering if their goalie of two seasons will actually perform. Eventually Owuya loosens his collar as a swagger-fied freestyler might, but looks to a retreating Tifu for backup.
He asks for beat. Tifu can’t drop a beat–“It’s all you buddy!”
Turning to the audience, his eyes search for words. In the next moment, he throws caution to the wind and shrugs his shoulders in what one might call a “What the f$#@” manner.
Towards the end, he loses rhythm and regard for younger ears. But what the f$#@, he just won the Kelly Cup.
Kirk MacDonald, or “K-Mac” to his teammates, has lost the wildman beard that will forever be a symbol of his championship run. A five-hour shadow has replaced it, giving him a manly yet dignified look. He thanks his teammates, coach Larry Courville, the fans–
“One more year!”
Though only 29 years old, seven seasons of professional hockey has taken its toll on MacDonald. Despite the demand from fans, the British Columbia native winces playfully and shakes his head.
He’s going out on top.
At 6th and Penn St., the parade stops. Fans here have been waiting for the procession for too long, anticipation building in the 90-degree weather as the horn of a fire truck filled with with players blared in the distance.
The zamboni carrying the first round of Royals includes captain Tifu, who has ordered the pause in action. He slips off the front of the blue machine and motions for the Kelly Cup from his teammates. Eyes covered by dark sunglasses in the May heat, he strides to the sidewalk corner–to the man with a cowbell, the kid with the “Hill 94” jersey, “Berry 29,” and down the line. A block of Reading, Pa. residents come face-to-face with a man they once despised, a man who has led them to the championship trophy that brushes under their hands.
The Cup is home.
Below, you’ll find a few more photos of the parade: