Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Rubtsov, Vecchione, Martel and more

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Future Flyers Report: Rubtsov, Vecchione, Martel and more

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this edition, we’ll take a look at a trade at the junior level with Flyers ties, a former Hobey Baker finalist and plenty more. Let’s get this thing going.

German Rubtsov, C, 19, 6-0/187, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
We had a trade involving one of the Flyers’ top prospects and a team with direct ties to the Flyers. Rubtsov was acquired by Acadie-Bathurst last week from Chicoutimi. Rubtsov joins Antoine Morand as the only two NHL-owned players on the Titan roster. Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ top-line center, is part of an investor group that bought Acadie-Bathurst in 2013, while Couturier’s dad, Sylvain, is the team’s general manager.

It may be obvious, but Rubtsov’s trade has no impact on the Flyers. They still own his rights. It’s strictly a QMJHL transaction. It happens often in junior. In January 2016, Ottawa traded Travis Konecny to Sarnia because it felt Konecny would be in the NHL.

Rubtsov will turn 20 in June and will either be in the AHL or NHL next season, which may have factored into Chicoutimi’s openness to moving him. Another factor could be the Saguenéens’ start, as Chicoutimi is near the bottom of the Q. Either way, Rubtsov has a new home in the Quebec League. Rubtsov adjusted quickly with the Titan.

On Friday, Rubtsov picked up an assist in his first game with Acadie-Bathurst, a primary helper on Morand’s game-winning goal in the Titan’s 6-3 win over Cape Breton. Then, in another 6-3 win Saturday over Cape Breton, Rubtsov recorded a goal and an assist. It took Rubtsov no time to mesh with his new teammates, a testament to his skill set.

Mike Vecchione, C, 24, 5-10/194, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Vecchione’s seven-game point streak ended last week but he still had a productive weekend. He had a two-assist game Saturday after his point streak snapped and then was pointless Sunday. The 24-year-old was honored last week for his performance in October. Vecchione last Wednesday was named the AHL Rookie of the Month and second star after posting 10 points in 10 games in October. It’s been quite the start for Vecchione.

“I’ve been taught to never put a ceiling on anything,” Vecchione said in September. “The sky’s the limit and I’ve broken a lot of ceilings that people put on me before. … I’ll do whatever it takes to move up and be an impact player for whatever team I play for.”

He’s proving to be just that for the Phantoms thus far: an impact player.

Danick Martel, LW, 22, 5-8/161, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Get used to seeing Martel in this report. He may not be a high-end prospect, but what he's doing is ridiculous. Martel had a goal Friday, a goal and an assist Saturday, and then a goal Sunday. He has six goals during his five-game goal streak. He leads the AHL in goals (13) and points (17). He's averaging a goal per game. Bonkers.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison had himself a weekend for the Broncos, who swept No. 1 Denver with wins Friday and Saturday. Allison played a big part of the victories with a four-point weekend. He scored WMU's first goal and picked up a secondary helper on the game-winning goal Friday in the Broncos' 6-5 win. Then Saturday, he recorded a hat trick in a 7-4 win.

With Denver up 3-0 in the second period, Allison scored two goals in 1 minute and 13 seconds to get the Broncos within one. Denver went up 4-2, but then WMU sprung off five unanswered goals. Allison scored the team's sixth goal, a power-play tally.

A huge night for Allison gave him the first hat trick of his collegiate career. He's second on WMU in goals (six), points (14) and points per game (1.56), and tied for the lead in assists with eight. He has just two pointless games and five multi-point games.

Cooper Marody, C, 20, 6-1/185, Michigan (NCAA)
He was featured last week, and after another big weekend, he's back. Marody continued to stay hot for the Wolverines this past weekend as Michigan split with Ferris State. Marody racked up a goal and two assists in UM's 7-2 win Friday. It was his third straight three-point game. In Michigan's 3-2 overtime loss Saturday, Marody had a goal and an assist. The junior leads Michigan with nine assists and 12 points.

Quick hits
Carter Hart returned to action last week for Everett after sitting out with mono. It was a pretty busy weekend for Hart, too. He stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 3-1 win Friday over Prince George and 39 of 41 shots Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Portland.

Philippe Myers’ groin injury forced him to leave the Phantoms’ 6-5 shootout loss Friday night to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He missed games on Saturday and Sunday.

Morgan Frost had a three-assist game in Sault Ste. Marie's 5-4 win over Sudbury last Wednesday. He then had an assist Sunday. Frost has 15 assists and 22 points in 18 games.

Oskar Lindblom added two more assists Friday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was his third consecutive two-point game.

• It’s been a rough stretch for Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon, who’s allowed nine goals in his last two games. Lyon allowed four goals Saturday before being pulled. He’s allowed three or more goals in five of his nine games this season.

Tanner Laczynski earned the NCAA's First Star of the Week for the week of Oct. 23 after a breakout performance. This past weekend, he had one assist in two games.

Mikhail Vorobyev scored his first AHL goal in the Phantoms' 6-5 shootout loss Friday night to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

• Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman has had a big two weeks. Bunnaman had his third two-goal game of the season Friday against Erie and then another goal Saturday against Guelph. Bunnaman has nine goals and 13 points in 15 games this season.

• Clarkson's Terrance Amorosa had a two-assist game Friday against Rensselaer. Amorosa, a senior, now has seven assists and nine points in 10 games.

Felix Sandstrom remains out for Brynäs IF because of an injury.

Noah Cates snapped a seven-game pointless streak with his second goal of the season Saturday night in Omaha's 3-2 overtime loss to Madison.

Flyers prospect Mike Vecchione gives thanks with Union hockey

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Flyers prospect Mike Vecchione gives thanks with Union hockey

As much as the stories pierced his heart, Mike Vecchione wanted to listen.

There he sat in the Schenectady YMCA, next to a war veteran a few days before Thanksgiving. After tours in Iraq, the gentleman had lost so much. His home gone due to foreclosure, his livelihood ripped out from underneath him, with the terror of war still fresh.

There wasn't much to be thankful for, but he had someone in Vecchione that night.

Not an NHL prospect or an NCAA national champion.

But just someone who cared.

"He went over there, back and forth, and next thing you know, he's out of his home and can't afford to pay for the necessities — and it's really sad," Vecchione said. "I feel like I've heard a couple of those stories where guys go over there and come back and kind of lost a lot of their lives. It's difficult to listen to and you can see he was kind of shaken up about the whole thing. He was talking about when he was over there, what he saw and it still kind of haunts him at night.

"I thought that was one of the tougher stories. He was only like in his mid-40s and seemed to be doing really well, and now he's just living day to day, trying to figure out a way to make a living. That was one story that stuck with me and I definitely hope he's doing OK."

This was one of four years, from 2013-17, in which Vecchione helped continue a growing tradition of the men's hockey program at Union College, a private liberal arts school in Schenectady, New York, located in the state's Capital District.

"It's one of the highlights of the year," Union head coach Rick Bennett said. "And you say that, you think highlights of the year, it revolves around hockey, but it's just the opposite."

This Tuesday marked the 13th consecutive year Union hockey has helped serve Thanksgiving meals to the less fortunate at the Schenectady branch of the Capital District YMCA, which houses war veterans, men with disabilities, mental illness and chemical addiction.

Vecchione, 24, now a Flyers prospect in his first season with the Phantoms after signing as a college free agent at the end of March, will always remember the people he met.

"Some guys can't handle those stories, other guys can, and I was one of the guys who were listening to them, talking to them," Vecchione said earlier this month in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "Afterward, they just kind of say, 'We're very thankful for what you guys do here, to come here and talk to us, serve us and listen to us.' All the little things you don't really think about are biggest things for them, that they're most appreciated."


Rick Bennett and Mike Vecchione (Union College)

What has become a staple of the Union hockey season started before Vecchione's time and prior to Bennett becoming head coach.

It began with the teams of Nate Leaman, who is now in his seventh season at Providence. Bennett, who was an assistant under Leaman and has been Union's head man ever since his predecessor's departure, has pushed the annual event forward.

"First and foremost, we're just trying to help others. We're trying to help our community, and the lessons that we all learn — not just the players, our staff learns from it every time that we do it every year — of how fortunate that we are and how we can help others," Bennett said. "When you do things in your community, to really help others, it's a good feeling. We're fortunate enough to be on the coaching staff here at Union College and our players are lucky to be student athletes at Union College. Some of these people that we're serving actually have come to our hockey games. They actually know some about the program, which is really impressive."

But, as Bennett and Vecchione will tell you, the credit goes to the Schenectady YMCA.

Union hockey is simply happy to lend a hand and add to the night.

"There's really not much that goes into it," Vecchione said. "The YMCA does a great job setting everything up with the food services and that sort of thing."

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took part during his three years at Union (2011-14) and is proud of what the community outreach has become.

"It's Schenectady, it's not the biggest place, so it's definitely cool," he said. "A lot of people, even though they don't have the best in the world, they find a way to put a smile on every day.

"It's the holiday season, some people aren't fortunate enough to be with their friends and family and whatnot. For us to be together, spend it with some people that are less fortunate, I think it's awesome. Puts everything in perspective for your life, to realize how lucky you are."

Over time, Union and the Schenectady YMCA formed a special bond with one common goal around Thanksgiving. Lou Magliocca, the executive director of housing for the Capital District YMCA, is a leader in coordinating the event and deeply appreciates the realness of Union hockey. The men's and women's programs are the school's only Division I sports, while the rest compete at the Division III level.

The institution of 2,200 undergraduate students hit the national map in 2014 — Vecchione's freshman year — when the men's hockey team captured its first-ever NCAA championship.

Magliocca, however, was blown away the following season.

"I thought it would be over with when they won the title, I thought I wouldn't see them again, you know? Now they're real big," he said. "Matter of fact, Coach called us and he said, 'Do you know the date of your Thanksgiving?'

"It's amazing. It's absolutely amazing."


Union hockey at Schenectady YMCA (Union Athletics)

To make each year possible, Magliocca said the YMCA receives donations from various businesses within the community to help provide the food.

The dinner is then prepared in the YMCA's kitchen and served from 4-7 p.m., typically on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day. Magliocca has been with the YMCA for nearly 17 years and fondly looks back on how it started with Union.

"Their athletic programs do some great volunteer work in the community," he said. "They've made it a mainstay that they all give back to something in the community.

"So what the Union hockey team did, we started to put together a Thanksgiving dinner. And what we did during the Thanksgiving dinner is we gave thanks to the guys that live here, they can invite a family member over, they can invite a friend over, that type of thing.

"Of the 188 that live here, we usually serve around 220, 225. Some don't have families, some do."

Magliocca said Union hockey works all three hours in numerous roles. Some are stationed in the back preparing the plates and drinks, while others hustle out the food and provide the dinner conversation.

"All the guys, great attendance, all the guys come, they mingle with homeless veterans here in Schenectady County," Magliocca said. "It's turned out to be a great event, a great partnership between the YMCA and Union College, where it's kind of grown with steam every year.

"It's just been a really good relationship, real good time and a real purposeful event serving the individuals here at our program."

And a person like Vecchione brightened the days of those individuals.

"What Union hockey adds to it, it adds a smile to their face," Magliocca said. "The conversation that they don't normally have."


Union hockey this year at Schenectady YMCA (Ross LaDue, Union Athletics)

It's no surprise such an effort and setting is right up Vecchione's alley.

The Saugus, Massachusetts, native comes from a family of work ethic and respect, values that have shaped him on and off the ice. His father, Joe, is a correctional officer and his mother, Diane, works as a billing assistant for a fence company.

Growing up, Vecchione learned the importance of hard work — nothing being given to you.

During his college summers, instead of focusing only on hockey — a sport that has earned him all sorts of accolades and now a professional career — Vecchione worked manual-labor type of jobs, from construction to building fences, to landscaping and roofing.

His daily routine consisted of waking up at 7:30 a.m., working out for two hours, skating for another two, before heading off to the day's job from 2-6 p.m.

Then doing it all over again.

"I did all those blue-collar jobs while I was home for the summer," Vecchione said. "It was something that's been instilled in my family — you've got to work to make a living. So I had to find a way to make some money and have a job. It definitely taught me some good lessons."

The drive and grind turned the 5-foot-10 Vecchione into a four-year college standout at Union, where he put up a program record 176 points, won the national championship in 2014 and was named a 2017 Hobey Baker Award (top college player) finalist.

The accomplishments weren't a product of pure talent.

"Family sacrifices growing up are a huge part of it," Bennett said. "It always starts at home; as we say, it starts at the kitchen table.

"[His parents] did it the right way."

The right way is a major reason why Vecchione took Thanksgiving at the YMCA to heart.

"Talking to some of the people, and there were some of them that sounded like they didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving because they couldn't afford it or they were alone on Thanksgiving," Vecchione said. "It's kind of a time to be around friends and family, whoever, but in this case, we were their family. Stand and kneel with them, hanging out, having some laughs, telling stories.

"You wouldn't think they would care too much about those little things that we take for granted, but at the same time, it can be a lonely world, a tough world, and these people have to go through with it every day. And we don't even think about those things. For us just to be there, have fun, listen to them and just kind of share this holiday, it was something they really appreciated and we didn't even think it was a big deal. It was very rewarding and I definitely always love to do that for those people."


Mike Vecchione (Union Athletics)

It was more than about simply showing up.

As a team captain his junior and senior years, Vecchione, humble and unassuming, wanted things done right when representing Union at the YMCA.

Just like it was for the war veterans, this meant something to Vecchione.

"They absolutely love it," Vecchione said. "The people that we serve are very generous and just very thankful that we go out there and support them and help them."

Bennett knew his team was in good hands with Vecchione. In this instance, the coach was not there to bark orders. He was there to listen to his leader.

"He was a two-year captain here, so let's just say we never had an issue at the YMCA with our team when Mike was running the show," Bennett said. 

"I'm usually with our staff in the back with a couple players getting the plates ready. I think that's where Mike said that I belong, so I was just following his orders.

"He said, 'You know what Rick, you just get the back, keep it quiet and just make sure the food is out here so I can serve it.'"

Vecchione deflected the attention away from the importance of his role.

"My job really was to make sure everybody's there, dressed appropriately and we're on time. And just delegate jobs to guys, need people to refill the water and the juice, guys in the kitchen, putting things together, servers, that sort of thing. We have the easy part," Vecchione said. "For me, I just delegated jobs, figure out what guys like to do. Some guys are more comfortable in the kitchen, where other guys are more social and can listen to those stories. So you kind of get a feel for what guys are willing to do and give them the job that best suits them."

Vecchione knew he wanted to listen.

"Just give them an ear to lean on," he said. "I definitely don't forget about those people when Thanksgiving comes around."

They were thankful for Vecchione.

But a guy like him was thankful for the opportunity.

Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

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Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

SUNRISE, Fla. — Nick Bjugstad scored Florida's only goal in regulation and the game-winning goal in a shootout as the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Bjugstad skated in and held the puck until Toronto goalie Frederick Andersen was sprawled out, then moved to his right and flipped in his goal during the fourth round of the shootout.

The Panthers won the tiebreaker 2-1 after Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida, and Patrick Marleau was successful for Toronto.

Vincent Trocheck and Henrik Haapala had assists for the Panthers (8-11-2).

Nazem Kadri netted a goal for Toronto (14-8-1), assisted by Connor Brown and Marleau (see full recap).

Forsberg, Turris lead Predators past Habs in SO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Filip Forsberg scored a pair of power-play goals and Kyle Turris had the only goal in a shootout to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, then denied all three Montreal shootout attempts as Nashville won for the eighth time in nine games.

Jordie Benn and Joe Morrow scored for the Canadiens, who have lost their last five. Morrow's goal evened the score with less than a minute left in the third period.

In the tiebreaker, Turris beat Antti Niemi with a wrist shot between the pads (see full recap)

Anderson's goal in OT gives Blue Jackets win
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After missing training camp because of a contract dispute, Josh Anderson has performed at a consistently high level for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Anderson scored two minutes into overtime to give Columbus its fifth straight win, 1-0 over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky had 22 saves for Columbus in his third shutout this season and 22nd of his career. Mike Smith turned away 40 shots for Calgary.

It was the first time this season that either team ended regulation scoreless (see full recap)

Point scores in overtime as Lightning beat Blackhawks
TAMPA, Fla. — Falling behind Chicago and staging a comeback has become the norm for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brayden Point scored a power-play goal 3:25 into overtime, and the Lightning rallied again to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Point took a pass from Steven Stamkos while positioned near the post and put the winner past Corey Crawford and complete a three-goal rally.

"To be down 2-0 to a team as good as Chicago, it was a great bounce-back performance," Stamkos said.

Chicago was short-handed after Nick Schmaltz was sent off for slashing at 3:10 (see full recap)