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Flyers Soar over Isles in Rookie Exhibition for Charity



The only organization from Long Island that came out a winner Wednesday night was the Islanders Children’s Foundation.  The exhibition game between Isles and Flyers prospects at Northwell Health Ice Center (Islanders’ practice facility at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow New York) may have been a benefit game for charity, but the only charity on the ice came from the Isles’ end.  Isles prospects outshot the Flyers 12-8 in the first period, but the game was scoreless until late in the second when Flyers prospect Anthony Salinitri netted what ended up being the game-winning goal with 2:29 remaining.  Almost halfway through the third period, Steven Swavely made it 2-0.

Then, the game seemed to have been changing momentum.  Isles went on multiple power plays in the third, with Matthew Barzal centering the top power play unit, Kyle Schempp and Michael Dal Colle on his wings, Devon Toews on defense, and Joshua Ho-Sang at the left point playing power play quarterback.  Despite creating traffic in front and Ho-Sang seamlessly threading the needle to various teammates, the Isles were unable to score on the man-advantage.  In fact, the only ones who scored on the Isles power play were Flyers’ prospects Tyrell Goulbourne (14:52) and Carsen Twarynski (15:52) a minute apart.  Goulbourne’s short-handed goal earned him a Gordie Howe Hat Trick on the night, assisting on Swavely’s goal and having a bout with Isles’ forward Cristiano DiGiacinto.

Alex Lyon started in net for the Flyers and faced 17 shots, turning all aside.  Carter Hart went between the pipes to relieve Lyon during the second, and turned away all remaining shots.  Both Flyers’ goaltenders faced a total of 28 shots, and made some great saves despite heavy traffic at the top of the crease.  Credit must also go to Flyers’ defensemen who helped clear the slot preventing rebounds, in particular: 6’7” defenseman Samuel Morin and 6’4” Travis Sanheim on the penalty kill.  Radel Fazleev and Taylor Leier served as forwards to complete the top PK unit.

If you’re a Flyers fan, you should take solace in the fact that the Flyers’ prospect pool is vastly underrated.  Ivan Provorov, for example, was drafted in 2015, seventh overall by the Flyers, and is looking to make a case for himself at training camps which are set to open officially on Friday.  The 6’1” Russian defenseman gathered 73 points in 62 games playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL last season.  Radel Fazleev began his junior career in 2013-14 with the Calgary Hitmen and was somewhat inconsistent with his game.  Last season, he seemed to have turned things around by scoring 19 goals and 52 assists (71 points).  He will likely make the AHL this season playing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, waiting for the opportunity to get the call up to the big show.  Travis Konecny played a great game Wednesday evening as well.  He picked up an assist and landed a couple of nice checks.

If you’re an Islanders fan, don’t worry – despite the embarrassing 4-0 loss Wednesday night, it’s important to remember that, first of all, it was an exhibition game.  Second of all, and I will stick by my previous statements, Garth Snow has done an incredible job building a prospect pool to be envied by other squads.  As I alluded to before, Joshua Ho-Sang’s vision on the ice – his ability to find open space and open teammates – along with his tremendous speed and silky mitts renders him a major threat to any opposition.  The way he finds his teammates through traffic, I don’t think his teammates are even expecting a pass from Ho-Sang.  After being dismissed from camp before the start of last season, he’s a year older now and has seemed to have matured quite a bit.  He may not be playing at Barclay’s Center this upcoming season, but more than likely he’ll be just a ferry ride away in Bridgeport.

Despite losing 4-0, Isles’ prospect netminders, Eamon McAdam and Stephon Williams, played pretty well.  The duo faced a total of 37 shots, saving 33 of them.  I would have liked to have seen a little better showing from 6’7” defenseman Loic Leduc, using his size to prevent shots with his long stick and bullying any Flyers willing to face him in the slot.

I was impressed by Ho-Sang, as I mentioned twice before (I can’t say it enough!), and Matthew Barzal, who missed Mini Camp over the summer dealing with a hip injury.  But aside from the names one would expect to read, I was also impressed by a young man named Kody McDonald.  The 6’0”, 203-pound forward played Wednesday night as if he would never play hockey again.  He was not afraid to throw his body around at anybody, including Sammy Morin.  He was terrific on the forecheck for the Isles, cutting off passing lanes, aggressive yet perfectly positioned, and fearless in going after defenseman, trying to force them to commit turnovers.  Last season for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, McDonald netted 15, and added 14 helpers (29 points) in 71 games.  That may not sound like a lot, but given his body build at just 18-years old, he could end up being a solid bottom-six forward in a few years.  Remember, hockey isn’t always about putting the puck in net; teams still need players who do all the right things in all three zones in order to help put the biscuit in the basket.  And despite being down 4-0, McDonald never gave up on the play and continued to play with the same effort and intensity shift after shift.  These are the kind of players you want on your team.

Thursday marked the first day of fall and that means the 2016-17 NHL season is just around the corner!  Training camps are set to open league-wide Friday morning, with many teams playing their first preseason games on Monday (Columbus and St. Louis will have a split-squad matchup Sunday afternoon/evening).  Islanders begin preseason against the Flyers at Barclay’s Center on Monday night.  Islanders open the season against cross-town rivals, the New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden on Thursday October 13, while the Flyers begin their campaign in Los Angeles on Friday, October 14.

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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