On Saturday, September 26th, the Reading Royals announced the re-signing of two defenseman. Garret Cockerill and David Drake have been re-signed to standard ECHL contracts for the upcoming season; each returning to Reading’s blue line for a third consecutive season. They are just two of ten returning players who have already re-signed with Reading from last season.
Returning to Reading after ranking second highest in points among Royals defensemen last season, the Brighton, MI native posted a career high 29 points in his 2019-2020 campaign. The upcoming season will be Cockerill’s fourth professional season, having spent time in both the ECHL and AHL. The defenseman stands six feet tall and weighs in at 201 pounds.
Before playing professionally, Cockerill played NCAA hockey for Northern University between 2014 and 2017. He was made an alternate team captain during his final season before signing with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. He played just 8 games with Kalamazoo. The defenseman was then loaned to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL for the remainder of the season where he skated in 40 games. He began the following season with Cleveland, but was eventually sent to the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL and was later traded to the Reading Royals where he has played ever since.
“Garret was one of the best ECHL-contracted defensemen in our league last season and is another player that knows our system well and will be trusted to play big minutes. He’s capable of shutting down top forward lines and can put the puck in the net as a versatile, two-way presence.” Kirk MacDonald, Head Coach of the Reading Royals, said in regards to Cockerill’s newly signed contract.
Drake, a Naperville, IL native who stands at six-foot-three and weighs in at 154 pounds, will also be returning to Reading for his third consecutive season. During the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Flyers. The defenseman then played NCAA hockey between 2014 and 2018 for the University of Connecticut. He was named alternate captain in both his junior and senior seasons with the university.
In March of 2018, Drake signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. He played seven regular games and one playoff game with the Phantoms to close out the season. That fall, he returned to Lehigh Valley for his first full professional campaign. The defenseman played in the team’s home opener before being loaned to the Reading Royals of the ECHL for the season’s remainder. The 2019-20 season, his second year as a pro, looked very similar – one game played in Lehigh Valley and 54 played in Reading. Drake recorded one goal and 13 assists during his second season with the Royals.
Discussing Drake’s return to Reading for the upcoming 20th anniversary season, Royals Head Coach Kirk MacDonald said, “We are also thrilled David has chosen to re-sign with us for his third season in Reading. We saw some great signs of progression last season, particularly how Draker uses his size and stick length to stop opponents’ offense. We’re hoping he can take that next leap forward again in 2020-21.”