When the New York Rangers’ Matt Rempe and the Flyers’ Matthew Strome started exchanging words by the boards in the first period, it was clear that the emotions from the Flyers’ win over the Rangers in a rookie exhibition game Saturday night in Tarrytown, N.Y., had carried into Sunday.
From there, the physicality escalated as the Rangers fought to even the score with a 3-2 win at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees.
The Flyers’ Brian Zanetti, who did not play Saturday, had the first big illegal hit of the night when he sent Evan Vierling flying into the boards, resulting in a five-minute power play for the Rangers. From there, players on both sides started exchanging a few extra words and shoves here and there. Eventually, it escalated into a brawl with five minutes left in the second.
That was the first of multiple fights that broke out before the second intermission. The period also saw Wade Allison, one of the biggest names on the Flyers’ rookie camp roster, helped to the locker room with an apparent lower-body injury.
Before the game got chippy, the Flyers were the first to find the back of the net Sunday. Defenseman Cam York fired from the left circle and found the hole above the goalie’s right shoulder. Tyson Foerster and Morgan Frost were credited with assists on the power-play goal.
Twenty-two seconds later, Strome knocked in a rebound. Led by solid play by goaltender Samuel Ersson and a strong performance by the penalty kill unit, the Flyers exited the first up 2-0.
However, the Rangers took advantage of the remaining seconds of their power play that carried into the second period when Will Cuylle deflected the puck in past Ersson. He then scored a second in similar fashion to tie the game while Zanetti was serving his five-minute penalty .
The Rangers took the lead early in the third when defenseman Nils Lundkvist scored. The physicality continued, leading to multiple power plays for each club. The Flyers were able to fend off the Rangers, but they weren’t able to take advantage of their own power plays and tie the game.
Mixing it up
The first line on the ice Sunday had a completely different look than on Saturday. Isaac Ratcliffe, Frost, and Foerster were replaced by Connor McClennon, Tanner Laczynski, and Allison. The Saturday line didn’t hit the ice until the fourth shift, following a power play. The Flyers didn’t just mix up the order, they played a variety of groupings , as well. Frost also played with Laczynski and Allison, while McClennon moved to Foerstor and Laczynski’s line.
When Allison was injured, the lines shifted further. Foerster joined Laczynski and Frost, with whom Allison had played a lot of shifts.
The bottom two lines had some more stability. For the most part, Jackson Cates, Linus Sandin, and Samu Tuomaala played together, as did Strome, J.R. Avon, and Nolan Ritchie.
On defense, York was paired with Linus Hogberg, Mason Millman with Wyatte Wylie, and Zanetti with Quinn Schmiemann.
Both Goalies impress during split duties
Phantoms coach Ian Lapierrieré stayed true to his word and gave his goalies equal ice time. When play stopped with 10:05 left in the second period, Kirill Ustimenko, who started Saturday, replaced Ersson in the net. Like Ustimenko the day before, Ersson started with a shutout first period. He gave up two goals in the first six minutes of the second period, but both came on Ranger power plays. On the first one, he made two big saves before Cuylle scored with 28 seconds left in the power play. Ersson and the penalty kill then survived three minutes of the five-minute major before Cuylle scored on another deflection. As the power-play time kept ticking , Ersson helped his team keep the score tied by coming up with four saves in a row. When Ustimenko came in, he gave up just one goal, which also came on a power play. He also had a number of nice saves.
“I like both of them, I like both of them,” Lapierrieré said. “I know we gave up two PK goals there, but they made a couple big saves, explosive saves, and that’s the new generation of goalies. You think they’re beat and all of the sudden they’re over there. That was pretty cool to watch.”
Flyers rookies banged up
When Allison was helped off the ice, the news sent waves through the Flyers community as fans shared their frustration. Allison’s right leg got tangled up when Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider sent him into the boards. He limped his way to the bench and, moments later, was helped to the locker room. He did not return to the game.
Following the game, Lapierreré did not have an update on Allison’s status.
“I feel for him, you know, kids that work all summer and have an injury,” Lapierreré said. “I don’t know how bad it is. We’ll see in the next couple of days.”
Foerster, who saw significant time, also came off the ice after a hard hit. He went down behind the Flyers’ net while defending a power play. Rangers forward Alex Whelan continued to tangle with him, but no penalty was called. After protesting to the referee, Foerster skated to the bench while holding a shoulder. However, Foerster returned to play and was one of the first on the ice in the third period.
Flyers’ training camp on the horizon
The final buzzer marked the conclusion of Flyers rookie camp. Next, the veterans will join those invited from rookie camp for the start of training camp Wednesday. They will hit the ice together Thursday and players like York and Frost, who participated in rookie camp, will compete for a spot on the Flyers roster, while returning players will get to show how they spent the offseason preparing to bounce back from a disappointing 2021 season. The group as a whole will look very different from last year after general manager Chuck Fletcher’s busy offseason.
As Lapierreré closed out his time with this year’s rookie camp participants, he shared some words of wisdom to prepare those going onto training camp.
“I couldn’t work on systems completely, but I kind of gave them a couple of pointers to impress the management, to impress (Alain Vigneault),” Lapierreré said.