EACH TIME Dave Hakstol and the University of North Dakota made it to the NCAA's Frozen Four in the eight years since Chris Porter graduated, Hakstol's phone would light up with a text message from Porter.

That happened four times after Porter left Grand Forks having been to three straight Frozen Fours. UND lost in the 2004-05 national championship game when Porter was a sophomore. Boston College eliminated it in the semifinals the following two years (three actually, when you count the year after Porter's departure).

Porter, selected in the ninth round by Chicago in the 2003 draft, then began his long journey in professional hockey, one that has produced 173 NHL games and 322 at the AHL level - all in the St. Louis Blues organization.

Eight years later, two weeks before the NHL season opens, Porter is back with his former coach and on the cusp of cracking the Flyers' roster.

But don't put him in the same sentence as the guy who recruited him some 13 years ago and made him a captain in his senior year.

"I'm trying not to associate myself with a past with him," Porter said Thursday. "I want to play my own style and have them appreciate that. I don't think I want to have the whole 'Hakstol and Porter playing together' thing.

"It's nice to see a familiar face, and he knows what I can do. But in the same sense, I'm trying to make a name for myself and do it on my own."

Porter, who opened camp skating with Scott Laughton and Brayden Schenn, is still in camp as the team cut its 62-man training camp roster down to 29. Last night, Nick Cousins replaced Laughton on the line.

With only a week remaining in training camp, the Flyers need to get rid of about four forwards, and Porter - who signed a one-year, $575,000 deal in early August - is making a push to not be one of those cut.

He helped his case last night with a first-period goal in the Flyers' 5-2 victory over the visiting New York Islanders.

General manager Ron Hextall said he's had his eye on Porter for a few years. But his North Dakota lineage played no role in his signing.

"I think when there's a North Dakota guy, it can always go back to Hak, but we talked about him actually in pro meetings before Hak," Hextall said. "We talked long and hard about depth players, and he was one of the guys that was very high on our radar. He's going to get no special treatment because of North Dakota. There's no doubt about that. Hak knows better than that. We've talked about him. He's done a good job. He's legitimately earned a longer stay."

Last season, Porter opened with the Blues, but missed time with a broken ankle and was a healthy scratch for much of the season. He had only two points in 24 games while playing in a fourth-line role, and also played in three games in the playoffs.

Now the 31-year-old is fighting for the chance to begin another season at the NHL level. He fits into the same category as Colin McDonald, 30, signed in early July to a two-way deal like Porter's. Both came into camp showing the ability to be effective in some sort of role with the big club. And at the very least, both would be perfect depth guys for the Flyers to have up front.

"I tried not to come with any preconceived notion," Hakstol said. "Those guys are good players. They've played a lot of games in the league. I don't think it's a surprise that they're good pros and their approach is very focused. It's a matter of whether they're the right fit for the group. They've just got to keep doing their part, and they can't worry about any of the rest of it."

Every day at camp, Hakstol says, goes a long way in terms of a player's body of work. But as camp inches toward its bitter end for some, preseason games become so crucial. The roster situation is cloudy up front and each forward left in camp can make a case to be on the Opening Night roster in Tampa Bay.

Porter is just hopeful he makes a good enough impression.

"I look at every game as a huge game, a big opportunity," Porter said. "It's a new team, new faces seeing you for the first time. I just want to make every opportunity count and show them I can play. I know that I can play at this level and can contribute to what they already have here. They've got great building blocks and they've got a great team here. I just want to add to it."

Slap shots

Players given the night off: Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Ryan White, R.J. Umberger, Scott Laughton, Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, Luke Schenn and Brandon Manning. Laughton, who is considered to be right on the bubble, was not on the ice during morning skate, and the team did not announce any injury . . . Michal Neuvirth started in goal for the Flyers and turned aside 22 of 25 shots . . . Also scoring for the Flyers were Shayne Gostisbehere, Brayden Schenn, Michael Raffl and Matt Read (power play). For Schenn and Gostisbehere, it was their third goals each of the preseason in three games . . . The Flyers practice at 11 a.m. today in Voorhees, N.J . . . The next preseason game is Monday night at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers . . . Last night's game was supposed to have a league-mandated 3-on-3 overtime period, as teams get used to the new format, but because of travel concerns in the city caused by Pope Francis' visit, that was canceled.