Deep in the hills of Pennsylvania there is a small city called Reading. Reading is home to the ECHL team, the Reading Royals. Most hockey fans don’t know, or care about the ECHL. I personally think it is because they don’t realize how valuable the league is to the NHL and AHL as a whole.
For example, the Royals were the first stop for two time Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Quick. The Royals also had career back up James Reimer and everyone’s favorite Princeton Alumni George Parros on the squad at one point. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention Deryk Engelland. So yeah, the ECHL is pretty important.
So unless you’re a super fan like me, you may not know that in 2017 then Flyers GM Ron Hextall used 80th overall pick on a goalie out of the MHL. The what? Its a super creative name. Its the Junior Hockey League for the KHL. These are all real things. The Flyers drafted goalie Kirill Ustimenko, just one year after drafting Carter Hart.
It looked like HMK Dynamo St. Petersburg was looking to make Kirill their backup, or inevitable starter as he played for their U16, U17, VHL, and MHL affiliates; never quite making it to the KHL ice. Sucks for them. Last summer Kirill took the ultimate plunge and flew around the world to play hockey in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Since coming over he has started in played in 31 games going 19-4-5, I know it doesn’t add up, back take in the fact he may have been a reliever. In the 28 games he has save percentage of 0.919 and a GAA of 2.4, not bad for a 21 year old rookie. He recent just made his AHL debut for the Phantoms where he faced 41 shots against and only let in 3. A 0.927 SV% in your first game, against a divisional opponent is not bad. Kirill will surely be making plenty of bus rides between Allentown and Reading, but I think we could easily see him backing up Carter Hart soon enough. He just has to beat out Felix Sandstorm for the job, who has been equally as impressive. For once in our Flyers fandom it may look all good between the pipes soon enough.