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Ronnie Attard brings his game and a smile to his first Flyers practice

Interim coach Mike Yeo says he likes what he's seen in Attard, who was grouped with Nick Seeler in the third defense pairing Thursday.,

Defenseman Ronnie Attard participates in his first practice with the Flyers on Thursday.
Defenseman Ronnie Attard participates in his first practice with the Flyers on Thursday.Read moreZack Hill / Philadelphia Flyers

Notifications have been lighting up Wade Allison’s phone constantly the last few days. It’s Ronnie Attard, his old Western Michigan teammate and newest Flyers teammate, asking what to wear, what to pack, what to expect as he makes the transition from the college game to the NHL.

“I’ve been blowing Wade’s phone up the last couple days,” Attard said with a laugh. “So he’s been a huge help. It’s been nice having that tool.”

Attard, a defenseman, walked into his first Flyers press conference with a big smile on his face. But just four days before, he was mourning the end to his college season after the Minnesota Golden Gophers knocked out Western Michigan.

» READ MORE: Noah Cates' family and friends made sure his Flyers debut was extra special

“[Four] days ago, I was playing a college hockey game,” Attard said. “I never would have thought I’d be sitting here. Just a little bit of a reset. A little bit upset that our season ended the way it did. But just come in with a fresh start and do whatever I can to contribute to help here.”

It’s helped that Attard has another player making the transition with him. Noah Cates made his debut Tuesday, and Thursday was his first full practice with the team. Attard laughed a little thinking about all the battles he had against Cates on the college hockey ice, but Cates has been helpful. He’s living in the same hotel as Attard, and he’s answered questions about what to expect.

Attard participated in his first practice Thursday, playing on the third defense pair with Nick Seeler. He said he was glad he had the chance to practice and be in the locker room before getting thrown into his first game. Although practice lasted just a half hour, Attard learned a lot. He gave Seeler a shout-out for walking him through each drill.

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After practice, Attard was chatting with the coaches when he realized the team was waiting for him to lead the stretch circle.

“All the boys were waiting for me and tapping their sticks,” Attard said. “So it was really cool.”

Interim coach Mike Yeo had only seen one game of Attard’s, but he liked what he saw from him at practice. He said Attard has size, range, and toughness as well as the skill to move the puck and contribute on offense.

“So I’m excited to see him in some game action here,” Yeo said.

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Attard will debut Saturday with his parents, Tom and Sue, in the stands. Some of his teammates were talking about making the drive to see him Attard is still uncertain about the status of “the Sisters,” (his older sisters Jessica and Julia). With his family watching, he hopes to demonstrate he can help the team with the skills Yeo noticed, but he’s also hoping to make an impact with something more.

“I bring a lot of energy, a lot of emotion to the game,” Attard said. “I always show up to the rink with a smile on my face.”

Flyers’ lineup shuffle

When the Flyers returned to Philadelphia after their five-game road trip, their lineup looked completely different.

Since they left on March 21, they have since added AHL call-up Hayden Hodgson as well as college prospects Cates and Attard, and they got back Nate Thompson from injury. All three ran with the main lines in place of Max Willman, Keith Yandle, and Oskar Lindblom. Yandle is out sick, and Lindblom’s having a maintenance day.

Yeo said those lines won’t necessarily be the ones they run with for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They still have another day of practice before he needs to decide.

There’s no set long-term plan for these young players, Yeo said, although he said they’ll each get a good opportunity to play in games and show what they bring. He’s emphasized to each of them that they don’t have to worry about making a mistake and immediately getting pulled from the lineup.


The Flyers play at home for the first time in five games when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. Saturday. ... Carter Hart was not at practice, but Yeo expects him back Friday. ... Scott Laughton has not been cleared to play. ... Cam York’s college team, the University of Michigan, will be playing in the NCAA hockey final. He gave them a shout out and said, “It’s been a long time coming. ... Hope it’s our year.”