Flyers

Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe puts on highlight reel as Guelph Storm win OHL championship

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe puts on highlight reel as Guelph Storm win OHL championship

What a year for Isaac Ratcliffe.

After scoring 50 goals during 65 regular-season games, the Flyers' prospect went on an impressive playoff run, which culminated in an OHL championship Sunday as the Guelph Storm beat the Ottawa 67's, 8-3, in Game 6.

The 67's went a league-best 50-12-6 for 106 points and were a perfect 12-0 in the playoffs entering the championship. The Storm won a pair of Game 7s prior to taking down Ottawa in six games for the OHL crown.

Bravo, Guelph.

Ratcliffe, a 2017 second-round pick of the Flyers, was magnificent in the postseason. He put up 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-16 mark over 24 games. In the Game 6 win, he delivered four points, including a filthy goal and through-the-legs assist.

The 20-year-old winger is a unique prospect to follow. He's 6-foot-6 but has soft hands and excellent touch. He scores in a variety ways, but skill is no problem.

"When I was younger, it was a big thing that I used to work on at the end of practice or the end of a skill session," Ratcliffe said last summer. "A guy my size, you don't usually see that and I wanted to prove guys wrong. I can bring any sorts of items to the table and I really wanted to show that I could bring my hands, as well."

Ratcliffe will turn pro in 2019-20, very likely with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

But next up is the Memorial Cup with the Storm.

"I've never played on a team with this much skill, this much class and this much character," Ratcliffe said Sunday to Rogers TV. "I'm so happy right now and we're not done."

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Among Flyers prospects, Carsen Twarynski is making everyone know his name

Among Flyers prospects, Carsen Twarynski is making everyone know his name

Alain Vigneault has been tasked with watching a lot of new players in a condensed period of time.

Flyers training camp opened with 63 players on the roster. Understandably, Vigneault is still learning about his players four games into the preseason.

Prior to Saturday night's exhibition contest, the Flyers' head coach innocuously had trouble pronouncing Carsen Twarynski's name as he rattled off the lineup in his pregame media availability.

Following the game, he said it perfectly.

"For me, the best player on the ice was Twarynski," Vigneault said after the Flyers' 4-1 win over the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). "He played a solid game at both ends, good on the forecheck, made some good decisions. There's no doubt the young man is making a strong case for himself."

Best player on the ice, on a night when the Flyers dressed forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny. The Flyers played a majority of their regulars at all positions.

Twarynski is a prospect and not the Flyers' most touted one, either. He doesn't care and nor do the Flyers, who are clearly considering the 21-year-old winger for their bottom-six vacancies.

Twarynski scored an impressive goal on sheer effort in the Flyers' win. He played just 11:44 but led the Flyers with seven shots and also had three hits.

"When I'm going fast, it's when I'm doing my best," Twarynski said. "As long as I'm moving my feet and playing with guys that understand that and play the same way, it's going to work well and it's going to click well and I think that's what you guys saw tonight."

The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder plays a bottom-six style and understands what the Flyers need. He has earned himself another preseason game. If he plays well again, he'll be right in the conversation for the season-opening roster.

"I've got to outwork [opponents], I'm trying to earn a spot here," Twarynski said. "I'm not a flashy player by any means and I know the spot that I'm battling for. I've got to work hard, that's what I've done my whole life and that's what I'm going to keep on doing.

"I've been through a lot of adversity though my hockey career. Growing up, wasn't on any national teams or Alberta teams or provincial teams. I've always had to work my way up through the first year and develop and make a step to the big league the next year. It's nothing new to me, I've just got to keep on going, keep working hard."

While the 2016 third-round pick got on the score sheet, Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost did not. The two prospects continued to show their skill and playmaking abilities but have not put up points. The Flyers certainly wouldn't mind seeing production — it's what can force the hand of the front office and coaching staff. If Farabee and Frost are scoring, it's harder to keep them off the roster.

"I don't think we're at that decision-making point," Vigneault said. "We still have a few games before we leave for Europe. But those two young men, you can tell there's a tremendous amount of potential and upside, smarts to their game. We have a lot to work with there. It's just a matter of doing what's right for the team and that's what we're going to do here when we make the final decisions.

"Just for feeling good about yourself and confidence-wise, it would be great to see them [score]. They're getting so many looks. You always say as long as the chances are there, sooner or later it's going to pay off. I'm hoping for those young men that it is because there's no doubt that they're playing well."

But the best player on the ice Saturday night was Twarynski.

His head coach didn't have trouble seeing or saying that.

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Flyers give Alain Vigneault what he wanted, prospects update, more from first preseason win

Flyers give Alain Vigneault what he wanted, prospects update, more from first preseason win

BOX SCORE 

Alain Vigneault wanted to accelerate the process as the Flyers inch closer to the Oct. 4 regular season opener in Prague, Czech Republic.

He saw some acceleration Saturday night.

Playing a lot of regulars, the Flyers won their first preseason game in four tries by beating the Rangers, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center. The team looked a hell of a lot better after losing to the Bruins' B-squad Thursday night, which prompted Vigneault's decision to change the Flyers' preseason plan.

Vigneault watched the game from the hockey operations suite in the press box. Just wanted a different view, perhaps? Vigneault evaluated alongside general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr.

During the opening period, the Flyers scored two goals in a 1:32 span, half their total of goals through the first three preseason games.

Let's get into observations:

• Travis Konecny was flying all over the ice in his preseason debut. He was active and a constant threat. He had been adamant about how missing the first three days of training camp wouldn't impact his readiness for the regular season.

Konecny made a point Saturday — he looked really good.

• Playing his third game, Joel Farabee had big-time scoring chances during the second period. He tried patiently holding the puck and sort of second-guessed his move on the first. He then couldn't convert on a 2-on-0 late in the frame. When he skated to the bench, he showed his frustration. The 19-year-old might be pressing a tad.

In his second game, Morgan Frost showed his skill with the puck but couldn't crack the score sheet, either. Both continued to do positive things but somewhat blended in as the veterans stole the spotlight.

Production gets you noticed and the Flyers' two top prospects have yet to put up points. The Flyers need bottom-six depth. The Nolan Patrick and Tyler Pitlick injuries could impact the kids' chances, as well.

We'll have to see how many more games Farabee and Frost get to open eyes.

• Kevin Hayes once again showed why his size can be so disruptive. He planted himself in front and Jakub Voracek, with great vision, couldn't miss the 6-foot-5 center for a 2-0 lead.

Hayes has a goal and an assist through two preseason games. Both points were products of Hayes' strategy with his size. He makes the Flyers tougher to play against.

• Speaking of Voracek, he was dominant. He finished with two assists and a goal. His vision alongside Hayes' size could be a productive combo.

• Carter Hart has stopped all 25 shots he's faced through three-plus periods of preseason action. He looks ready to go. He'll play a full game before the Oct. 4 opener.

• The Flyers entered Saturday without a power play goal through three preseason games. On the team's first man advantage opportunity of the game, it cashed in as Claude Giroux found James van Riemsdyk right in front for a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers finished with two power play goals.

Here's a thought: JVR on the top line with Giroux and Sean Couturier to start the season. There's just so much chemistry between Giroux and van Riemsdyk. We saw it last season when it sparked van Riemsdyk over a prolific stretch.

Just a thought.

• Carsen Twarynski, an under-the-radar bottom-six candidate, scored during the second period behind some excellent effort. He played a puck to himself along the boards and then tapped home his own rebound to make it 3-0.

If he's back with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, a fast start to his second season will help his chances at a potential call up to the big club. In 2018-19, he had one goal and four points through his first 20 games with the Phantoms.

• Chris Stewart dropped the gloves for his second fight of the preseason just 1:27 into the game. He also put the Rangers on the power play in the first period when he was whistled for interference. Not sure he helped his case for the roster, although he did have an assist.

• Matt Niskanen and Ivan Provorov weren't paired together but both played well. Niskanen looked a lot more comfortable and broke up scoring chances. Provorov was impressive in all areas, including the power play as the point man.

• The Flyers are expected to practice Sunday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before heading to Boston to play the Bruins Monday in their fifth preseason game (7 p.m./NBCSP+).

The team has three exhibition games remaining. It flies out to Switzerland on Sept. 27 before its final preseason contest on Sept. 30.

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