Philadelphia Flyers hockey officially started last night, well almost. The annual rookie game against the New York Islanders featured a spirited bout between the two Metropolitan Division rivals. The Flyers ended up dropping the contest in a shootout 5-4, but a strong showing from the rookies is definitely something to get excited about. After a fast start that saw the Flyers go up 4-1, a few costly penalties shifted the momentum back to the Islanders.
Phillippe Myers and Felix Sandström dominated the night and left fans begging for more. If you are looking for a more in-depth recap of last night’s game, click here. I just want to highlight a few players who really impressed in tonight’s rookie matchup.
David Kase, brother of NHL player Ondrej Kase, certainly showed off his talent in tonight’s game. His goal ended up being an unassisted short side snipe, after an extended stay in the Islanders zone. He showed great tenacity, and speed on loose pucks to set him and his linemates up for chances all night.
Camp invitee, Sean Comrie, also potted a goal for the orange and black. Assisted by Isaac Ratcliffe, and Morgan Frost, he capitalized on an extended jaunt in the offensive zone. He seemed steady in his defensive role and he may have just played his way into a spot on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Speaking of Frost and Ratcliffe, the top line of the Flyers’ rookie team was electric all night. Rounded out by Joel Farabee, the top rookies often caused mayhem for the Islanders. On more than one occasion, it seemed that the Islanders defenders and forwards were caught watching the pretty moves and passing put together by our top prospects. Unfortunately, no goals for the line but their play was nothing short of exceptional. I can’t wait to see them compete in the upcoming training camp.
Starting goaltender Sandström was electric in net early and often for the rookies tonight. He made a hefty 18 saves in a first period where the pace of play was largely dominated by the Islanders. He made key saves to turn the tide and ended his night making 24 of 25. He was quick with the glove and tracked the puck well allowing the team to take the lead in the first period.
Related: Isaac Ratcliffe; a Leader on the Ice
German Rubtsov was a monster this game. He excelled in puck pursuit, defensive play, and even chipped in two goals of his own. He seemed to be all over the ice, the number 50 flashing across the zones, seemingly always in position to make a play. He spent time on both the penalty kill and power play, while also performing well in the faceoff dot.
The undisputed best player on the ice for both teams goes to Myers. He was a man among boys in this game and his prowess for the defensive position showed. He made a slick move at the top of the offensive zone to buy himself space and elude a defender. He then crossed into the middle drawing two more Islanders players to him before dishing the puck to the back door and allowing Rubtsov to score. Myers showed in this game why he clearly deserves a spot with the big club and I will be elated to see him soak big minutes in the NHL. Myers is just another gem from the Flyers scouting team that we should all be very, very excited about.
Needs Another Look
Not to cause concern, but the rookies did seem a tad undisciplined tonight. A slew of penalties, and two successive for Josh Couturier, allowed the Islanders to claw their way back into the game. Mikhail Vorobyev was all over the ice early and during the third. He showed why he spent some time with the Flyers in the NHL but he also disappeared for some stretches.
Fourth rounder Mason Millman had a strong game until some poor positioning lead him to get bodied off the puck allowing the Islanders to subsequently score. He was playing well, and I hope this one lapse doesn’t hurt his confidence.
Kirill Ustimenko came in midway through the second in relief of Sandström. He was immediately shelled, giving up three goals on seven shots, mostly due to a porous defense in front. He bounced back well though performing strongly in the third and overtime periods. There is a logjam of goalies in Lehigh Valley but I’d love for Ustimenko to get a chance.
Ratcliffe showed some serious growth in his all around game. Not only did he spend time on the penalty kill but also defended his teammates in some scrums. One in particular had Islander’s Justin Murray face washing Ratcliffe for what seemed like a solid minute. Ratcliffe laughed it off, and showed great restraint resulting in Murray receiving a penalty.
If this rookie game is any indication than the future is bright for the Flyers in all ends of the ice. From goaltending, defense, and offense, the Flyers feature studs and potentially elite talent. Myers is certainly my MVP for the game, playing sound defense and setting up a ton of offensive chances. The goaltending pair of Ustimenko and Sandström solidifies that Carter Hart’s backup will be able to steal a few games. Rubtsov, who I pegged in an earlier article as my dark horse to make the team this season, certainly showcased that he has what it takes. Look for these rookies to build on a strong game and camp in the Flyers official training camp opening this coming Friday, Sept. 13
Freelance Writer born and raised in the city of Philadelphia.