DEFENSEMAN Shayne Gostisbehere will not play again this season, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced last night.

Gostisbehere, 21, underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Nov. 13. He began skating again in mid-January and seemed poised to make a return to the Phantoms' lineup in late March.

Phantoms coach Terry Murray said in plain terms on March 5 that Gostisbehere had been shut down for the season, but Hextall reiterated that was not confirmed until a doctor's appointment yesterday.

"New research says that you don't play until it's fully healed," Hextall said. "The risk was just too high."

Gostisbehere is expected to be ready to compete for a roster spot when training camp opens in mid-September. After being named the NCAA Frozen Four's most outstanding player last April, he ended up playing just two games with the Flyers and five games with the Phantoms before sustaining his injury on Nov. 7.

"This year hasn't been a total loss," Hextall said. "He's gained a lot of weight, gotten a lot stronger and learned to be a pro."

- Frank Seravalli