NEW YORK — The nickname came during his freshman year at Union College.
Shayne Gostisbehere was at a campus party when he bumped into sophomore forward Josh Jooris, who now plays for the Calgary Flames.
“Josh came up to me and started calling me Ghostbusters,” recalled Gostisbehere. “That turned into Ghost. I got a nickname from a nickname. It’s a pretty cool nickname. I love it.”
These days, everyone who follows Flyers hockey knows who “Ghost” is and what he’s about.
And after this weekend, Ghost has gone international.
On Saturday against the Devils, Gostisbehere extended his rookie point streak to 11 games with a power-play goal. That established a new Flyers franchise mark for a rookie, breaking Mikael Renberg’s 1993-94 record.
At the same time, the 11 games also set a new NHL record for points streak by a rookie defenseman, breaking Barry Beck’s 1977-78 mark with Colorado.
His power-play assist during the 3-1 loss to the Rangers extended that streak to 12 games.
By Sunday evening, the 22-year-old Floridian had time to reflect on the record as well as the whirlwind it’s been for him in just 36 games since being called up in mid-November.
“It’s awesome,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s history. And it’s pretty cool to be part of history. Especially, so early in my career. I can’t thank my teammates enough. Without them, I could not do any of that.
“Like the goal. Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) jumping in mid-air to get in [New Jersey Devils goalie Cory] Schneider’s eyes. Little things like that. Guys putting the puck in the net for me when I pass it to them. It’s a team effort with me getting the accolades.”
Gostisbehere is third on the Flyers with 18 power-play points. His 10 goals are fourth on the team. Among all NHL rookies, he is fifth in scoring with 31 points and had played at least 20 less games than the leaders.
His six power-play goals are tied for the rookie lead. He leads all rookies in power-play assists (13) and points (18) and is fourth in game-winning goals (3).
“People should be excited by this young guy,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “What he has done entering the league has been very impressive. You are always challenged by what you can do the next day. His start has been exciting and it’s been impactful.
“As long as he keeps his feet on the ground, which he continually speaks well to, and he is hungry to improve and get better every day, he’ll continue to answer that question about what he brings the next day.”
Don’t think for a minute that Ghost doesn’t know that. He was keenly aware of general manager Ron Hextall’s comments all through the summer and training camp about patience in developing rookies, not pushing the envelope, and making sure young players who get a chance don’t get too comfortable in their surroundings.
Hextall wants his prospects to pay their dues. Even when he called Ghost up from the Phantoms, Hextall fretted over how other prospects would react. That is, would they think it’s too easy to get to the NHL level? Or maybe all they needed was an injury to a veteran player to propel them.
Gostisbehere understood Hextall’s concerns.
“I wasn’t a high draft pick or first-rounder,” said Gostisbehere, who was picked in the third round of the 2012 draft. “I went to college. It is different. I think it depends on the player himself. … When you get your number called, you go out and … make it tough on them to send you back down.
“That’s what stuck in my mind. Play the game and show him I can be an everyday player. I wasn’t trying to show him he was wrong. He has a plan for everyone. You need to trust your general manager. He has proven that patience is a key.”
Hakstol admits that Ghost has exceeded his expectations. Then again, Hakstol really had none to begin with given Gostisbehere was an injury recall and would not have been here had it not been for Mark Streit’s surgery last November.
“He is excelling in the first couple months in the league on the offensive side and that is what brings and draws attention,” Hakstol said.
That's another way of saying what the Flyers want to see is for him to excel on the defensive side of the puck. Man-up play. Play in front of the net. Moving the puck out of the defensive zone confidently and efficiently without turnovers.
“Those things are very important, too,” Hakstol said. “His overall game coming into the league has been good. How hard are you willing to push every day to make it better?”
Gostisbehere says there is a trickle-down effect to other defensive prospects in the organization — Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, Mark Alt and Ivan Provorov.
“I want to set a good example, show them you can have fun and stay humble doing it,” Gostisbehere said. “If you get a big head, bad things can happen. Stay within yourself, work hard. Success will come.”