Maybe the Flyers should start paying closer attention to a certain high school hockey team in their own backyard.

Gloucester Catholic High, you see, has suddenly become an unofficial feeder program to NHL teams.

Two former Gloucester Catholic stars - Johnny Gaudreau, a two-time all-star left winger with Calgary, and blossoming Ottawa right winger Buddy Robinson - took part in a meet-and-greet Thursday with about 50 of the school's hockey players.

"Quite honestly, hockey is a big reason why a lot of these guys came here," Gloucester Catholic athletic director Pat Murphy said after the assembly in the school's gym.

During Thursday's session, Gaudreau, whose father, Guy, coaches the Rams hockey team, and Robinson talked about their backgrounds and their different paths to the NHL before a question-and-answer period.

Johnny Jackson, a sophomore left winger from Gloucester Township, said he was attracted to Gloucester Catholic because of its academic program and its hockey team. "Seeing Johnny and Buddy and all the success they've had played a part" in his decision, said Jackson, whose father, Jim, is the Flyers' TV play-by-play announcer.

Gloucester Catholic's club hockey program started about 15 years ago after a recommendation made by the late Jerry Scharff, then the school's athletic director.

But it has had hockey as a sanctioned varsity sport only since 2005. The school has a varsity team and two junior varsity teams and plays its home games at the Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell.

Gaudreau and Robinson were Gloucester Catholic linemates for two seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09). The fleet and elusive 5-foot-9 Gaudreau is the NHL's lightest player (157 pounds), while Robinson has grown to 6-6, 232 pounds.

Gaudreau, 22, selected by Calgary in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and a 30-goal scorer this season, spent three years at Gloucester Catholic before playing in the USHL for a season. He later played three seasons at Boston College and won the Hobey Baker award as the nation's top collegiate player in 2013-14.

"Every time I come back here it's even more special," said Gaudreau, who will return this week to Boston College, where he was known as "Johnny Hockey," to earn credits toward a degree, a promise he made to his mother before he signed with the Flames. "I get to see the old teachers and the students who were in my position maybe five or six years ago."

Gaudreau, who said his father's guidance was one of the main reasons he reached the NHL, is a restricted free agent. He is negotiating a contract extension and said he plans to have a long stint with Calgary but would love to play for the Flyers toward the end of his career.

"Everyone wants to play for their hometown team eventually," Gaudreau said.

Robinson, 24, played four years at Gloucester Catholic and then played two seasons on the junior level before receiving a hockey scholarship to play at Lake Superior (Mich.) State. Two years later, he was signed as a free agent by the Ottawa Senators and was assigned to their AHL team in Binghamton. The Senators called him up late this season after he collected 13 goals in 62 AHL games. He scored a goal, on a deflection in front of the net, in his second NHL game.

"The first game, I got the penalties out of the way," he cracked, recalling the pair of two-minute minors (boarding, tripping) he received in his debut.

Robinson, who grew up in Bellmawr, is hopeful of making the Senators' opening-night roster for the 2016-17 season.

"I talked to management, and my exit interview was pretty positive," he said. "I'm excited for the season coming up."

In Ottawa, Robinson has a South Jersey connection because one of his teammates is Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan.

"We talk about it all the time," he said. "It's nice to have someone else from South Jersey there. He gets it. He knows what it's like down here."

Breakaways

Gaudreau, the pride of Carneys Point, will host a July 29 golf tournament at Blue Heron Pines in Egg Harbor City. Proceeds will benefit Gloucester Catholic's scholarship fund, and information is available at 856-207-0120.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

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