After being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 52nd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, forward Wade Allison earned the opportunity to make a name for himself upon making his NHL debut late in the season. The long-anticipated, fiery forward spent the past four years honing his talents at Western Michigan University, where he put up 97 points in 106 games played throughout his college career.
For Allison, the journey to the NHL was not an easy one, but that did not stop him from fighting for his dreams. After dealing with a handful of injuries at both the college and professional levels, he did whatever it took to get back to being fully healthy. Once that opportunity arose, he did not disappoint by any means.
Starting on the “Farm”
Allison opened the 2020-21 season fully expecting to make the Flyers roster out of training camp, but an ankle injury that required surgery had other ideas. The initial injury was only supposed to be a quick four-week recovery, but an additional month of rest and rehab was required. Once he was fully healthy a couple of weeks later, he was given the chance to make his professional hockey debut with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League. It did not take long for him to get comfortable with the Phantoms as he came out ready to play right away. In his debut with the Phantoms, he scored a goal on a wicked shot beyond the circles, which would mark his first goal as a professional hockey player.
Before joining the Flyers later in the season, Allison would spend a total of eight games with the Phantoms, where he earned the right to be called up. In the sample of those games played in the AHL, he put up four goals and five assists, which was more than enough to impress the Flyers. During those eight games, he proved he had enough confidence in his size and skill to make it to the next level. He fit nicely in the Phantoms’ top lines and provided support on the power play unit as well.
The Call to The Show
When the call finally came for Allison to head to the taxi squad on April 11, 2021, he knew the opportunity to make an NHL debut was not far away. He would only wait four days before the Flyers officially announced that he would be called up to the NHL and make his debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins. On April 15, 2021, he made it into the team’s lineup against the Penguins, a game that he would never forget.
“I called my parents, just told them I was in the lineup. They told me they were proud of me. It’s something I’ve worked my entire life for, never taking days off. It’s incredibly special; this is the coolest thing ever.”
A special moment that all hockey players hope to make one day, but not everyone gets the chance to make it. After all of the injuries he dealt with over the last couple of years, he was not sure he would ever have the opportunity to make it.
“It’s been a long road,” Allison said postgame. “There have been a lot of ups, a lot of downs, but I did it. It’s pretty cool, something I’ll remember forever, something that nobody can ever take from me. It’s pretty special.”
He would play well in his NHL debut, but he would not record his first NHL goal until one game later in front of the home crowd. In a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, he would burry a pass from Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes in front of the net on a power play.
“I have to go out and buy Hayesy a dinner because it doesn’t get much easier than that one,” Allison said.
Allison would spend the remainder of the 2020-21 season with the Flyers before being sent back down to the Phantoms. He would play 14 games throughout the rest of the season, where he would record four goals and three assists. The team was more than impressed with the young forward in the sampling of games this past season. Although the team did not do as well as expected, Allison was a bright spot for the future of the team.
Looking Forward to Next Season
He is among a handful of young talented prospects in the system that will eventually make up a bulk of the Flyers lineup. As the team prepares for next season, Allison will be a pivotal part of the bottom six forwards, given that he makes the team out of training camp. He provides a spark to a lineup that is missing energy on the back end of the lineup.
While he knows he did well this past season, he is not done proving himself just yet (from ‘Down on the farm (literally), rugged Wade Allison looks like he can muscle up the Flyers’ lineup.’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 07/06/21). A larger sample of games is needed before the team truly makes up their mind, but at the moment, things are looking good.
“I obviously still have to prove myself,” Allison said. “I’m still a young guy and only got in a short stint” with the Flyers. But in that short stint, I feel I do belong there. That it’s a place I can come into and have a positive effect.”
He will continue training back home on his dad’s farm in Myrtle, Manitoba, Canada, until the season begins. This offseason allowed the Allison family to spend time together doing something they enjoy and focus on something other than hockey for the time being.
“It’s great to work with my Pops,” Allison said. “We’ve got some cattle and a couple of hundred acres of wheat and all different stuff. I move the cows out from our pasture here. We move them a couple of miles down the road so they have grass to eat and stuff like that, and we’ve been fencing that area up. And there’s always something broken on the farm, always something to be fixed. You’re never caught up.”
As the 2021-22 NHL season quickly approaches, he will continue to work on his game and improve as much as he possibly can to not only make himself better but the team. Expectations will be set high following last season, but he is always up for a challenge to make himself better.
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Bobby Bader is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL) as the team’s media coordinator as the team prepares for its inaugural season. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.