Future Flyers Report: Isaac Ratcliffe finding his scoring touch with Storm

Terry Wilson | OHL Images

Future Flyers Report: Isaac Ratcliffe finding his scoring touch with Storm

Updated: 11:57 a.m.

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.

• Isaac Ratcliffe had a two-goal game last Tuesday and then went pointless in his two other games for Guelph. Let’s look at Ratcliffe’s second goal from Tuesday:

Much has been made about Ratcliffe’s size. He’s a big boy. On this goal, he stationed himself in front of the goalie and showcased good hands to score in tight on the Kitchener goalie.

Ratcliffe has had a pretty good start for the Storm, scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 17 games. 

• Boston University has been a college hockey powerhouse, but this season, it’s been quite the mind-boggling start for the Terriers. Last week, though, BU finally got its first win of the season.

Joel Farabee played a part in BU going 1-0-1 last week, picking up a goal in the Terriers’ 5-5 tie with No. 13 Northeastern Thursday and then an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Northeastern.

• Alex Lyon made his third start of the season Saturday night in Lehigh Valley and once again, he faced a constant onslaught from the opposition. Lyon, again, survived with an excellent effort.

Lyon turned away 40 shots in the Phantoms’ 3-2 overtime win over Binghamton, a game Lehigh Valley needed an empty-netter to force the extra period. Lyon carried a shutout into the third period, surviving a 17-shot second period. Per the Phantoms, Lyon is now 7-1-1 in nine career AHL games in which he faces 40 shots or more. That’s a ridiculous statistic.

Forty shots are high volume and win-loss record for goalies is usually a meaningless stat. But seven wins in nine games when facing 40 or more shots is pretty darn impressive.

Lyon was recalled to the Flyers Monday morning with Brian Elliott dinged up and Michal Neuvirth placed on injured reserve.

• Jay O’Brien made his return to Providence’s lineup Saturday night but is still searching for his first collegiate point. O’Brien had three shots on goal against Holy Cross on Saturday.

Late in the game, however, with the Friars up 3-0, O’Brien took a high hit from Holy Cross’ Ryan Leibold. Providence head coach Nate Leaman did not hold back:

Quick hits
• German Rubtsov is a totally different player now that he’s reached the pro level. We’ve featured him previously, but last week, he had a goal and an assist in two games.

This goal was especially of highlight-reel fashion.

• Remember Mikhail Vorobyev? The center is back with Lehigh Valley and had himself a goal and an assist Friday night against Binghamton. His assist came on Rubtsov’s goal above.

His goal came on a pretty lethal long-distance snipe:

• Philippe Myers and Mark Friedman each had assists in both of the Phantoms’ games this past weekend. Both Myers and Friedman have eight points in 11 games this season.

• Carter Hart is still looking for consistency at the AHL level as expected. Hart started one game last week, turning away 32 of 36 shots in a 4-3 OT loss to Binghamton Friday.

• Morgan Frost saw his eight-game point streak end Sunday. Frost recorded 10 assists and 18 points during the stretch. He’s second in the OHL with 33 points in 19 games.

• Yale defenseman Jack St. Ivany registered his first NCAA point Friday with an assist against Cornell.

• Wade Allison, recovering from a torn ACL, remains out for Western Michigan.

• Owen Sound winger Maksim Sushko is beginning to heat up, putting together a three-game point streak last weekend with a two-assist game Friday, a goal Saturday and an assist Sunday.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

One long day should give Flyers prospect Bobby Brink plenty of motivation

Zack Hill/ Philadelphia Flyers

One long day should give Flyers prospect Bobby Brink plenty of motivation

Bobby Brink will remember waiting.

With the NHL draft, most players will say it doesn't matter where you go or when you're taken, it's just special to hear your name called — a dream realized.

Brink, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound winger from Minnetonka, Minnesota, masterfully delivered in his draft year. He carved up the USHL for 68 points (35 goals, 33 assists) in 43 regular-season games with the Sioux City Musketeers, turning himself into what many viewed as a first-round prospect.

He didn't learn his draft destiny until Saturday, Day 2 of the event, at pick No. 34 overall.

"I landed in a great spot with the Flyers," Brink said last month at development camp, "and I couldn't be happier to be here."

Thrilled, absolutely. But …

"It's motivation that teams passed up on you," Brink said. "It was a long day Friday."

He won't forget.

The Flyers traded up to snag Brink. They were excited he was still available on Day 2, three selections into the second round (see story). Brink said he had met with the Flyers throughout the year and at the NHL Scouting Combine.

"I knew the history of the Flyers," Brink said. "It's such an historic organization.

"They didn't tell me they were going to draft me or anything, but I thought I was on their radar."

For good reason.

Brink isn't regarded as the biggest, fastest or strongest, but there's a deceptive quickness to his skating, he thrives on outsmarting the opposition and he's exceptionally skilled. 

I rely on the scouts to put the list together and Bobby was a player that our entire staff highly endorsed, scouted and very much liked as a hockey player. I've known Bobby and his family for many years. His dad Andy coached my son and also taught him in school. So there's a long relationship there. 

In terms of the background, I felt comfortable giving my opinion to the staff about what a quality kid from a quality family. Watched him play at every level, and it's remarkable — he was a star player in squirt and peewee, and he's a star player in the USHL. It's been amazing to watch his rise. He's a high-quality prospect.

- Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher

During the 5-on-5 scrimmage to finish off development camp, Brink stood out playing alongside top prospects Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe.

"He's a small guy, but he works hard," the 6-foot-6 Ratcliffe said. "He seemed to control the puck and it was on a string for him out there.

"He's a really good player."

Brink, who is headed to the University of Denver, said growing up he has admired smaller players in the NHL like Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Kane.

"Seeing them do that, I realize that I can do it, too," Brink said. "They're providing me opportunity, for the smaller guys, by having so much success."

Gaudreau, the 25-year-old five-time All-Star, is a 5-foot-9, 165-pound winger who was drafted out of the USHL in 2011. He heard his name called in the fourth round.

Sometimes waiting can be a good thing.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Noah Cates is a prospect the Flyers 'can't stop bragging about'

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Noah Cates is a prospect the Flyers 'can't stop bragging about'

The Flyers selected Noah Cates during the fifth round of the 2017 NHL draft, plucking him out of Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota with the 137th overall pick.

At the time, Brent Flahr, Chuck Fletcher and the Minnesota Wild were sitting at No. 147.

"A kid like Cates was right in our backyard," Flahr said. "One thing in Minnesota when you are there, you hate when Minnesota players, especially the good ones, go ahead of you."

Flahr can now thank Flyers amateur scout Nick Pryor. As the assistant general manager of the Flyers, Flahr no longer has to kick himself for missing out on Cates.

"Nick Pryor did a good job," Flahr said last month at development camp. "He was right near his house. They got him. He looks like a real good prospect for us."

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

As a fifth-round pick out of high school, Cates was once well below the surface in the Flyers' prospect pool. With time and hard work, he's beginning to blossom — and the Flyers see it. 

"We talk about him every day and we can't stop bragging about him," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said. "He's quietly gotten better and better every year, and everything we ask him to do, he's doing it."

In 2017-18, Cates scored nearly a point per game (21 goals, 34 assists) over 60 contests with the USHL's Omaha Lancers. He then followed it up by playing an important role for 2019 national champion University of Minnesota Duluth, recording 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) and a plus-12 mark through 40 games as a freshman.

What made the national title even sweeter was winning it alongside his brother Jackson Cates, for a school just shy of a 2½-hour drive from his parents Jeff and Jenny Cates.

"Awesome," Cates said. "I think they were at every game this year. It was so much easier for them that we were in the same spot, a couple hours from home. They're obviously so proud of us."

Couple his freshman year with a goal and two assists for the U.S. in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, and it was a productive 2018-19 for Cates.

"Just grew so much, developed so much with the college game — living on my own, going to school and everything like that," Cates said. "Just an awesome year all around and capping it off with that national championship was so special with my family."

Cates is far from the skinny, offense-first player he was in high school. He's gone from 6-foot-1, 165 pounds to 6-foot-2, 180 pounds. He's a smart, all-situation thinker — in large part because of his development with the Bulldogs and trust from head coach Scott Sandelin.

"My role kind of grew as the year went on, got more comfortable," Cates said. "A little bit of power play, some penalty kill, last-minute stuff — that's important to play in all those key situations, so important moving on to have that experience. To do it for a team like that, it was really special. I can't say enough good things about that program and the whole year in general. Coach Sandelin gave me a lot of opportunity and I'm so grateful for that opportunity and took advantage of it."

The Flyers noticed.

"He scored goals, he's on the ice when you're protecting leads, he's killing penalties," Samuelsson said. "He's a very rounded hockey player."

Cates said it's too early to tell how long he'll stay in school.

"When you're on a team like that and with a program like that, you don't want to leave too early and maybe hurt your career," Cates said, "especially with the opportunity that's in Duluth."

After all, there's no real rush. Flahr, Fletcher and the Flyers know him well.

"So happy to be in Philadelphia," Cates said.

"I just need to play the way I can play, especially these next couple years with my development. They're on board with that, they're happy with where I'm at, but I've got to keep making strides."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers