Tortorella gets first look at the kids as Flyers top Bruins in preseason opener


With John Tortorella and his staff watching Saturday night's preseason opener from the Flyers' management suite, the club put out a ton of its kids for the head coach to watch.

Tortorella, who has vowed "to play the kids," got his first glimpse of them in the Flyers' 2-1 exhibition victory over the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jackson Cates scored the game-winner with under five minutes left in the third period, joining his younger brother in the goal-scoring column.

Noah Cates, one of the club's better prospects and pushing for a roster spot, scored a power play goal. Morgan Frost and Tyson Foerster assisted the marker.

"He's a coach's dream," AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Ian Laperriere, who was behind the Flyers' bench, said of the younger Cates. "He does everything right, doesn't cheat, plays the right way, coachable. How can you not like a guy like that?"

The Flyers put Boston on the power play six times but came away unscathed on all six.

Overall, not a bad start to the preseason for the Flyers, who are coming off of a 25-46-11 season and want to get younger in 2022-23.

"One of John Tortorella’s strengths, and I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for this, is he’s got a proven track record of making players better, pushing players to be better, developing young players," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Thursday. "And that’s a critical part of what we want to do. We want to find out what we have."


• On a pretty reverse pass, Frost topped his preseason point total from last year.

He facilitated Cates' game-opening goal with the Flyers on a 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period. Frost won the draw and then found Cates on a slick look off of a rebound.

"He's so good, just what he does with the puck, it confuses me sometimes. Holy s---, right?" Wade Allison said. "It's a lot of fun to watch and it's pretty cool to play with him. Keep your stick on the ice because it can show up on your stick at any time. He's a special player. And the more confidence he gets, the more he's going to take off. He's going to be a very elite player in this league for a long time."

Frost also had a painful blocked shot to help seal the win in the final seconds.

The 23-year-old playmaking center has to be more confident this time around. Last preseason, he was playing after a long layoff.

He built some confidence toward the end of the 2021-22 regular season. The Flyers are definitely looking for Frost to take a step on a one-year deal.

Frost looks stronger and has a head of steam. He'll be a regular in the big club's lineup and knows this season is a big opportunity.

"Just prove that I belong in the NHL. More so even that I'm here, I want to make a statement, like I don't just want to be on the team," Frost said Saturday after morning skate. "I want to be a difference-maker, I want to help contribute and play in different situations, be somebody that gets relied upon in the game. That's what I'm looking to do in camp, prove that and then hopefully carry it into the season."

• Jackson Cates is a guy to not forget in the Flyers' center competition.

Solid, defensively responsible player who is 24 years old and comes from a winning college program.

"Jackson, I wouldn't put him out of the race, either," Laperriere said. "He came into camp in tip-top shape, came into camp to make the team."

• Two goalies vying to be the Flyers' backup to Carter Hart split the net.

Felix Sandstrom started the game and finished with 17 saves. He was very good in the first period, converting 16 of those saves as the Flyers handed the Bruins four power plays.

The 25-year-old Swede had a respectable .910 save percentage in five starts with the big club last season.

"It builds confidence, it's something I took with me all summer, it was motivation, too," Sandstrom said. "You know how much fun it is to be here and how everything works here, so you want to battle to take a spot on the team."


Troy Grosenick, a 33-year-old who has excellent career AHL numbers, stopped 14 shots in relief. He was signed to a one-year, one-way, $750,000 contract in the offseason.

Grosenick allowed the game-tying goal to Jakub Lauko with 7:10 minutes remaining in the third period.

Keith Kinkaid, a 33-year-old veteran entering his 10th season, and Kyle Keyser each surrendered a goal in Boston's net.

• Cam York was solid in 20-plus minutes. The 21-year-old prospect is a favorite to open the season on the Flyers' third defensive pair.

"I think the management, Torts' staff and myself are looking for him to make the simple play," Laperriere said Saturday after morning skate. "He's got that great ability to skate up the ice and he's got his head on a swivel all the time. But at the NHL level, the play that you see, it's the best play. Sometimes those kids — he's not the only one — are looking for a better play. Well, the more the camp's going to advance, those plays won't be there. So I think the management and myself are looking for him to play a simple game, make that play and most of the times, he'll make a nice pass."

• Allison has shown he'll stand up for teammates in any setting. He fought a 6-foot-8 forward in a rookie game last season.

The well-liked winger showed it again Saturday night, standing up for Antoine Roussel, who is competing on a professional tryout. During the first period, the 32-year-old Frenchman had his head down in open ice and took a clean hit from Connor Carrick. Allison has probably known Roussel for a week but immediately dropped the gloves in his defense.

The old-school Tortorella can appreciate that. It was costly for Allison, too, because he was given a misconduct. As a result, he finished with only 10:55 minutes on the night, but the fight didn't hurt his case for a roster spot.

"I know it's training camp, but he's showing his new coach Torts that he's willing to do that," Laperriere said. "What Torts is trying to do here is to bring an identity of sticking up for each other and Wade proved that tonight."

Hayden Hodgson also fought, doing the dance with A.J. Greer in the second period.

Hodgson and Egor Zamula assisted Cates' game-winner.

• Artem Anisimov, like Roussel, is a veteran on a PTO and aiming for a contract.

The injuries to centers Sean Couturier and Patrick Brown have opened the door for Anisimov, a 34-year-old veteran who played for Tortorella in New York.

He played 18-plus minutes Saturday night, blocked a few shots and committed a penalty.

"He's played over 700 games, he's a veteran, great personality," Laperriere said. "When you lose a couple of guys already, it's not bad to have a guy like that around that can show the kids the right way to go about business."


• Foerster had a penalty along with his assist, but also had an impressive shot during the third period. He finished with five shots.

• The Flyers will hold a pair of scrimmages and four practice sessions Sunday in Voorhees, New Jersey.

The team's next preseason game is Tuesday against the Sabres in Buffalo, New York (7 p.m. ET).

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