VOORHEES – At last it appears the Flyers finally have something to build around.
Carter Hart took the Delaware Valley hockey community by storm this past winter and if you’re going to hang your hopes on a rising star, it might as well be a young goaltender.
Before suffering an ankle injury in a pre-game drill at Montreal on Feb. 21, Hart was on track to be a finalist for the NHL’s Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
Three weeks off slowed his momentum but he still showed a lot of promise down the stretch, even when the Flyers weren’t playing their best hockey.
So, at Sunday’s getaway day at the Skate Zone, a number of players were asked if the prospect of having Hart for a full season next year (he didn’t come up from the Phantoms this past season until Dec. 17) gives them optimism for next season.
So far, Hart hasn’t let them down.
“All those different little experiences I’ve gone through, now I know what it’s like to be an NHL hockey player,’’ Hart said. “All those experiences I’ve gone through will help me next season, so I’ll be better prepared.
“We want to play until June and we’re not going to stop until that’s been accomplished.’’
Sean Couturier appreciates what Hart brings to the table.
“He definitely had an impact on our team this year,’’ Couturier said. “He was great. Won us some games. You just want to hope that he keeps going. Let’s not put too much pressure on him. He’s still young, he’s still learning.
“I think he’s probably going to go through some ups and downs. Even this year he’s been through some downs and the way he’s responded, it’s pretty impressive for his age.’’
Jake Voracek has played in front of some pretty good goalies in his career and Hart’s performances really caught his attention.
“That’s an impressive start to a career, 20-year-old guy’’ Voracek said. “I didn’t know if he was ready. I don’t know if his numbers in the AHL were at the level everybody expected. He comes in and plays the way he did, I think it’s really impressive.
“You know he is going to be the number 1 guy (next season) the way he played this year. We went through eight goalies this year. It couldn’t have been any worse. ‘Hartsy’ probably being the number 1, that’s what I guess is going to happen. If he plays at the same level he did this year, we should be in way better position.’’
Nolan Patrick is about the same age as Hart and he said the goalie has shown a lot of promise.
“You guys saw, he’s unbelievable goalie,’’ said Patrick. “To do what he did at 20 is impressive. He’s so calm in the net. I think you need a goalie to bail you out every once in a while, and that’s what he did and it’s nice to have him back there.’’
James van Riemsdyk and Voracek confirmed they will play in the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic next month. JVR will play for Team USA and Voracek for the Czech Republic.