Flyers’ Prospect Noah Cates Primed for Olympics with Team USA

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Noah Cates will play for Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in February. USA Hockey announced its full roster on Thursday evening. The University of Minnesota Duluth captain is one of 13 NHL prospects and 15 current NCAA hockey players on the American roster that will travel to China. All 25 players on the roster have NCAA experience.

Flyers and the Cates Brothers

The Flyers selected Cates in the fifth round in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, a draft that has recently come to the spotlight in Philadelphia. His older brother Jackson has played seven games with the Flyers this season. Noah and Jackson won a NCAA National Championship together at UMD in 2018-19. 

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Jackson signed with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent after the NCAA season ended in April 2021. He began the 2021-22 season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He scored two goals and added four assists in 20 games before his call-up. He has averaged under 10 minutes of ice time per game in a depth role with the Flyers. 

Noah Cates UMD Athletics
Noah Cates, University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (Terry Cartie Norton-UMD Athletics)

Noah spoke on the College Hockey Talk podcast about the impact Jackson has had on his career. He candidly stated, “I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my brother.” He added that Jackson’s experience one year ahead in the development process has normalized the adjustment period at certain levels because of the intimate familiarity. The relationship could potentially help Noah’s climb into the NHL after his career at UMD is finished this spring.

When asked a tough question about how he could handle the passionate Philadelphia fan base, he showed poise and maturity.

“I think that’s all a fan asks for is your full effort, and that’s kind of my game and what I give every time I step on the ice.”

-Noah Cates

The straightforward response suggests an attitude that is unfortunately lost by some modern athletes in major media markets like Philadelphia.

Captain at Minnesota Duluth

Cates, a native of Stillwater, Minnesota, will play with four current or former University of Minnesota players and one current member of the Minnesota State Mavericks. His roots in the “State of Hockey” run all the way through his childhood. He came up through the ranks of the heavily scrutinized high-school hockey system in Minnesota and played postseason games at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. His uncle is also a former member of the Golden Gophers.

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Currently in his fourth year at UMD, Cates has scored 34 goals and added 55 assists in 122 games played. He has worn the “C” for the past two seasons. He led the Bulldogs to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four in 2020-21, the first time an NCAA program has accomplished the feat since the University of North Dakota from 2005-08 under former head coach Dave Hakstol.

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs celebrate
University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs players celebrate (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

In April 2019, Cates sealed the victory in the National Championship Game over Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar and the University of Massachusetts with a late goal to extend the UMD lead to 3-0. After the 2020 NCAA Tournament was unfortunately canceled, he helped bring his team back within reach of a three-peat in 2021. The Bulldogs advanced to the Frozen Four in a five-overtime thriller against North Dakota, but they fell to UMass in the semifinal round.  

His head coach Scott Sandelin has brought three National Championships to UMD since 2011. Cates described the bench boss as a man who holds everyone around him to the “highest accountability” on and off the ice. Sandelin played 15 of his 25 career NHL games with the Flyers during the 1990-91 season. He also played parts of three seasons with their former AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, from 1988-91.

Cates describes himself as a “leader by action” who is surrounded by other veteran college players who can speak up in the dressing room. The description aligns with the style of current Flyers captain Claude Giroux. 

Cates Set for Team USA

Cates will turn 23 the day before the Beijing Games begin. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound winger also played for Team USA at the 2019 World Junior Championship on the same team as Flyers star Joel Farabee.

Two assistants on the coaching staff for the Americans also have connections to Cates. Brett Larson was an assistant on Sandelin’s staff at UMD during the 2017-18 season when Cates was a freshman. Mike Hastings was the long-time head coach of the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Although he did not play under Hastings, Cates spent time with Omaha shortly after high school.

Hockey fans from the Philadelphia area will have additional connections to root for with Team USA. Their general manager, John Vanbiesbrouck, played two of his 20 NHL seasons with the Flyers in 1998-99 and 1999-00. Andy Miele of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is one of six players on the American roster with NHL experience. He also played within the Flyers organization for the Phantoms for 65 games during the 2016-17 season. 

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Brian O’Neill, another current KHL player, began his hockey career in Yardley, PA, just north of the city of Philadelphia. He played for Germantown Academy and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers club team before moving on to Yale University. He played 22 games with the New Jersey Devils in 2015-16. He is the only player on the 2022 roster who represented Team USA at the PyeongChang Games in 2018.

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