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Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere invites his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas' hockey team to Panthers game

The Flyers' defenseman will invite his alma mater's high school hockey team to Sunday's game.

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, January 25, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, January 25, 2018 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Shayne Gostisbehere is pretty impressed with the members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High hockey team.

Yeah, upsetting two higher seeds to win the state championship last weekend was an impressive feat for his old high school. But the circumstances around it, and how they conducted themselves before and after – is truly inspiring, he said.

"The way they handled themselves was pretty cool to see,'' the Flyers defenseman said before Thursday's home game against Carolina. " Obviously the circumstances were a little rough. And what they did with their medals, bringing [them] to the school for the memorial, was pretty cool. They handled themselves like adults. It was pretty cool to see.''

Gostisbehere is going home this weekend for the first time since the horrific Feb. 14 shooting claimed 17 lives. The Flyers will play afternoon games in Tampa on Saturday and in Sunrise, Fla., against the Panthers on Sunday, and he has invited his hometown team to come to the game and meet him beforehand.

Gostisbehere never played for the team. High school hockey in southern Florida, while much improved, can not match the level played at prep schools in the Northeast and elsewhere, so Ghost played on higher-level traveling squads there before spending his last two seasons at South Kent School in Connecticut.

His admiration has nothing to do with their skill level, he said, although beating two teams that had defeated them in an earlier round robin is impressive.  The focus and poise in accomplishing that – one junior varsity player lost a sister in the attack – is what has left him in awe.

As has the eloquence of students speaking out in support of gun legislation.

"I'm not the biggest political guy there is,'' he said. "But it is my old school. My hometown. And it's cool to watch these guys stand up for what they truly believe. Obviously, they want some change. It's cool to see how some of the kids who survived are coming through it and … handling themselves as  young adults.''

Including the hockey players, each of whom laid his medal at the memorial site for their late classmates.

"It will definitely be cool to see them,''Gostisbehere said. "And to get their minds off everything they're going through and hopefully have some fun for a few hours.''

Breakaways: Over the seven games before last night's, five of the six Flyers defensemen scored goals. Oddly, the one who has not — Gostisbehere, who has eight assists over that span. … Following Thursday's game, the Flyers begin a brutal stretch in which six of their seven opponents are in the playoff mix – including Boston and Las Vegas, which have been as hot as them over the last three months. … The Phantoms own an 8-point lead in the AHL's Atlantic Division heading into weekend play and are second overall in the AHL with 77 points. They will play at home against Hershey on Friday and against Binghamton on Saturday.