September 18, 2017
By: Kristi Fulkerson
Flyers Rookie Camp came to an unofficial end Wednesday with a game at the Wells Fargo Center. Hosting their counterpart from the NY Islanders, the Rookie Game was the first of its kind held at the Flyers’ home building since 2011. Judging by the estimated 13 thousand fans in attendance, it won’t be the last. 

The game concluded a 3-day camp that began Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey, featuring a handful of Philadelphia hopefuls and several players that will suit up for the Phantoms this season. The 2017 camp featured five first-round draft selections ranging from 2013-2017. Phantoms coaches Scott Gordon and Kerry Huffman were behind the bench during the Rookie Game, but it was Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol who called the organization’s young talent impressive.

“I think the skill level, the ability level, the competitiveness has been extremely good,” the third-year head coach told the media, “that’s due to a lot of good individual players but collectively overall the skill level and ability on the ice has been outstanding.” 

Plenty of Flyers talent was on display in the Rookie Game despite falling to New York 4-3 in overtime. Goaltenders Alex Lyon (Free Agent 2016) and Carter Hart (2016, 2nd Round) split duties in the net. Lyon stopped 13 of 14 shots faced while Hart turned away 19 of 22 (facing 18 shots in the third period alone). Swedish forward Oskar Lindblom (2014, 5th Round) stood out by creating some key offensive opportunities — two that resulted in goals. All three Flyers’ goals were scored by defensemen - James DeHaas (Free Agent-AHL-2017), Travis Sanheim (2014, 1st Round), and Mark Friedman (2014, 3rd Round). Coming off a four-year career at Bowling Green, Friedman had another chance to show his athleticism and offensive ability after playing just one road game with the Phantoms last season.

“It helped for sure, playing with some good defenseman watching what they do and how to be a pro,” Friedman said of his time with Lehigh Valley. “Playing that game was huge for me, fitting in with the speed and all that.”

Friedman is among the Flyers rookies that feels a strong summer will benefit them this season as Lyon, Sanheim, and Sam Morin all spent the majority of their time in Philadelphia. The two highly touted defensemen, Sanheim and Morin, are among the players battling for a spot on the Flyers opening night roster. 

“I know I’m going to play in the NHL one day, it’s a question when,” the 6’6 Morin said Tuesday. “I think I play the right way. Coach Gordon and Huff really helped me last year to play a simple, good game. If I play my game, I’m confident I can stay and I have to prove to Ron (Hextall) and his staff I deserve it.” 

Morin underwent wrist surgery in the offseason while the Phantoms goalies Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz are both coming back from lower body injuries.  The Flyers announced two weeks ago that Stolarz would undergo a second knee surgery and be unavailable for training camp. With the timetable for his return is unknown, Lyon looks forward to building on his individual and team’s success from last season. 

“Obviously I feel for Anthony, he’s had a tough break but for me I’m looking to take advantage and continue on the path to become the best that I can be,” Lyon told TV2, “After getting to playoffs for the first time in a long time, there’s a little bit of excitement going in - and some more expectation - which I like.” 

The Phantoms open the season October 7 against Hershey but will first play two preseason games against the Charlotte Checkers on September 29 and 30 at PPL Center.