The method behind any prospect's growth is about more than just developing one's game.
It's also about developing winning qualities. Learning what makes a winning environment can be transformative.
Ultimately, winning becomes the grand mission at the highest level of hockey because the NHL is a business driven by wins and losses.
That's why the Flyers must be pleased with how Noah Cates has helped Minnesota Duluth drive its winning mantra forward. The Bulldogs have gone 53-21-4 over Cates' time in the program. They won the national title his freshman season in which Cates played 40 games and missed only two because of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. Minnesota Duluth is 2-0-0 to start the 2020-21 season and the junior Cates is the team's captain.
The Flyers' 2017 fifth-round pick "does a lot of things that sometimes maybe the normal hockey person doesn’t always see all the time, but as a coach and as a teammate, you really appreciate," Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin said in May.
"I think that’s what makes him, in my opinion, special."
Cates, a 21-year-old who can play center, winger and in all situations, has three points (one goal, two assists) through Minnesota Duluth's first two games. He has also won 23 faceoffs and blocked three shots.
"Noah is on a real good path right now. Being the captain at a school like UMD for coach Scott Sandelin is a terrific honor," Flyers amateur scout Nick Pryor said Thursday night to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He’s taken the right steps in all aspects of his game, he’s put a lot of time in and played a big big role on his world junior team and his team at Duluth that won a national championship."
Pryor's homework was instrumental in the Flyers snagging Cates during the later rounds back in 2017.
"He’s in real good hands at Duluth and his development to this point has been very good," Pryor said. "Noah is a fantastic kid that’s well-liked by everyone, and he’s put the time in to set himself and Duluth up for a very good year."
Sandelin, a three-time national champion head coach, said in May that he expects Cates to turn pro after this season.
As a captain, Cates has some more wins to deliver before he sets out to win at the next level.
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