The Flyers' prospects split with the Rangers this weekend as they dropped the second rookie game, 3-2, Sunday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Cam York and Matthew Strome provided the goals for the Flyers' rookies, who took the first game from the Rangers on Saturday in New York.
The pair of prospect games brought a close to Flyers rookie camp. Now it's time for main training camp.
The Flyers' big camp opens Wednesday with media day at the Wells Fargo Center, followed by the first on-ice practice Thursday in Voorhees. It's uncertain if and when Wade Allison will be on the ice for camp or the preseason. The roster hopeful was forced to leave Sunday's rookie game during the second period because of an injury.
Here are five observations from Sunday's game, which was streamed live on YouTube by the Flyers.
'He's got another gear'
To no surprise, York looked highly comfortable quarterbacking the power play. The 2019 first-round pick operates smoothly and confidently at the point. He had a sharp read and shot on his man advantage goal in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
"He was good, but I feel like he’s got another gear and I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing," AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Ian Laperriere said. "First game in a long time and main camp's around the corner. I’ve been there before — sometimes you think about main camp before just a scrimmage like that. He did a lot of good things out there but I really do feel like he’s got another step that he can take — and he will."
The slick-skating, point-producing defenseman had a hugely successful but whirlwind 2020-21 season. The 20-year-old played for Michigan, Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Phantoms and the Flyers. York did not play Saturday, so this was his first form of game action since last season.
York's game is built on his elusiveness, skill and orchestrating the attack. Playing offense means playing less defense. But he wants to show the Flyers' management and coaching staff that he can prevent goals with physicality when needed.
"It sounds weird but be dirty, don't let guys off the hook, be as physical as I can, stuff like that," York said. "Guys at the next level are really tough and hard to defend against, so I think just being as gritty as I possibly can.
"I like to throw the body around when I can. I'm not going to do it every shift and light guys up, but when the time’s right, I'll definitely be physical."
'A great step for me'
Tanner Laczynski is healthy and good to go for main training camp. Playing a game was big for the 24-year-old center after he had gone through a four-month recovery from right hip surgery in late April to repair a torn labrum.
On one play in the first period, Laczynski made a hard forecheck to force a turnover and create a Grade A scoring chance.
"I think it was a great step for me, that's what I've been working toward, just getting on the ice and play a game again," he said.
"I felt pretty good, I’m confident in the hip and everything. I think that's a good sign moving forward."
Samu Tuomaala, the Flyers' top draft pick in 2021 (second round, 46th overall), didn't score a goal in either of the rookie games but he showed difference-making bursts of speed on Sunday.
During the first period, his speed was too much for a Rangers defender who tried to cut him off with a hip check along the boards. Tuomaala beat him, turned and set up a scoring chance with a pass to Jackson Cates at the net.
Give credit to the 18-year-old Tuomaala, who has been at development camp, rookie camp, is learning the English language, wants to play in North America and is vying to make the Phantoms. The junior level might be best for him this season. If he doesn't crack Lehigh Valley's roster, he'll play for the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.
"I liked him. Today he was better than yesterday," Laperriere said. "It’s a lot for him. He came over, doesn't speak much English. We taught them some stuff this week. He’s got that look on his face. 'Do you understand?' He's like, 'Yes,' but sometimes he doesn't and it’s part of it. He’s a Finn that doesn’t speak English but I thought he looked really good today. Yesterday was an adjustment for him. ... I don’t know what they’re going to do with him — I don't know if he’s going to play for me or he’s going to play junior, but we’ll see."
Between the pipes
Samuel Ersson, who started in net for the Flyers, was busy during the second period on the Rangers' power plays. He allowed two goals in the middle frame. They were tough to stop as the Rangers' 2020 second-round pick Will Cuylle deflected home both right in front of the crease to erase the Flyers' 2-0 lead.
In one second-period sequence, Ersson made three to four consecutive saves.
Kirill Ustimenko split the game with Ersson, coming on in relief during the middle stanza. The Rangers scored the game-winner in the third period.
Notes and tidbits
Strome, a 2017 fourth-round pick, extended the Flyers' lead to 2-0 in the first period with a goal off a nice feed from camp invite Nolan Ritchie.
During warmups, Allison chatted cordially with Matthew Rempe near the center-ice line. The two dropped the gloves the day before.
Morgan Frost continued to build his reps and confidence with an assist on York's goal. The 22-year-old's first two seasons of pro hockey were far from normal.
"The difference in the last three years has been huge for me," he said. "Obviously not playing last year was tough, but I feel reenergized and I feel stronger. I'm a little older now, I feel more confident. I think everything has kind of come together for me."
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