When the Guelph Storm fought back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs in April, Isaac Ratcliffe drew on his training.
When they fought back from a 3-1 hole against the Saginaw Spirit, the Storm’s team captain again remembered the lessons learned the previous two summers at the Flyers’ development camp — particularly when former Navy Seals took over for one day.
``I shouldn’t say that, though,’’ Ratcliffe said over the phone this week. ``I don’t want them to bring them back.’’
He’s kidding. Sort of. The leadership Ratcliffe displayed as the Storm overcame seven elimination games en route to the OHL championship and an unlikely berth in the Memorial Cup is just the latest aspect of his development for Flyers fans to be excited about.
Ratcliffe finished the postseason with 15 goals and 15 assists over 24 games, adding to a regular-season total of 82 points in 65 games (50 goals, 32 assists). He had six points in those four straight wins against London, including the tying and go-ahead goals in Game 7. He totaled 10 points and was plus-8 in the elimination games.
``How to handle yourself in do-or-die situations,’’ he said, referring to the Seals training. ``It’s so easy to translate that onto the ice. Push yourself to different limits. You do that on the ice, you’re going to get the results that you want. … That’s what has made me who I am these past couple of years. It definitely helped me this year with some of my leadership qualities. And how we handled some of those situations where our backs were against the wall, too.’’
``It takes a lot of leadership and grit to come back like they did,’’ said Flyers prospect Morgan Frost, who played against Ratcliffe in the Premier Hockey League and roomed with him at those development camps in the last two summers. ``A lot of that fell onto Ratty’s shoulders. He did a great job. He’s a really great guy, and he can motivate people. I never played with him, but I can see it in his personality.’’
The Flyers picked Ratcliffe and Frost in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft, eight spots apart. Frost and 2018 first-rounder Joel Farabee were draft picks obtained through the trade that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. The three players are at the top of most lists rating the Flyer’s most-promising prospects.
They will also likely be teammates for the first time this fall at Lehigh Valley. That is the ``preferable option,'' said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher, echoing his predecessor, Ron Hextall.
``But if they come in and they earn it — and there’s been players every year that seem to do it around the league — then certainly we won’t hold them back,’’ Fletcher said.
Before that, though, the three will reunite at another development camp this month. It will seem like old times, especially for Ratcliffe and Frost — with one exception. According to a Flyers spokesman, the ex-Seals won’t be there.
That’s OK with Ratcliffe.