Coach says Flyers’ rookies still have some room to improve

Tyson Foerster

       While the Flyers’ rookies played fairly competitive hockey against their New York counterparts in a two-game series, the fact is Philadelphia came out on the short end of the score in both encounters.

      After Saturday night’s 3-1 loss at PPL Center, coach Ian Laperriere says that simply wasn’t good enough.

      In fact, he was willing to single out some of his top players from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, including Tyson Foerster, for criticism.

      “The scoresheet is one thing but you want them to create something,” said the coach. “I didn’t see that in the first two preseason games. It’s a big camp for all of them. All the guys who played for us last year, it’s a huge camp for them.

      “Hopefully they can reflect tomorrrow and be better when main camp starts (on Thursday). We still have a couple more days of rookie camp, hopefully they will get going. Hopefully it’s a wakeup call for some of them. At the end of the day, if they want to make the big team, they have to do a little bit more. Hopefully they will learn from those two games and be better.”

      Foerster, perhaps the leading candidate to make the Flyers’ roster after a strong season split between Philadelphia and Allentown last year, admitted he needs to show more.

      “I don’t think it was for lack of trying,” he said. “I think I had some pretty good chances. I have to hit the net for sure. Tonight I just didn’t get enough shots.

      “I think me and ‘Desi’ (Elliot Desnoyers) have a lot more to offer than what we showed. I just want to play better than what I did tonight and hopefully make the team. I need to get more consistent, not take any more offnights.”

      In Saturday night’s game, the young Blueshirts picked up goals from Luke McNamara and Bobby Trivigno to take a 2-0 lead through two periods.

      McNamara scored just 2:14 into the first period on a wrap-around shot which eluded goaltender Carson Bjarnason. That goal was unassisted Then, at 17:17, the Flyers suffered a defensive breakdown, allowing Bobby Trivigno to skate in for an uncontested shot.

      Zayde Wisdom got one back for the Flyers at 17:27 of the second period on a power play. A five-on-three power play didn’t produce in a 25-second opportunity but then Wisdom scored from a short distance to narrow the deficit.

      But that’s all the scoring the Flyers could muster. The Rangers scored again in the final minute.

      Wisdom was the only player who really drew praise from Laperriere.

      “His focus is to make our team,” the coach said. “He’s our best player right now. There are other guys who need to be better. ‘Wis’ has been great since day one. Good for him.”

      Added Wisdom: “It’s humbling to hear that. My career is in his hands. I just want to continue to put that work in. I put the work in this summer and now it’s time to cash out.”


      Off to a fine start: If you needed proof Alex Ciernik is serious about his professional hockey career, consider this little anecdote.

      Just prior to this summer’s NHL Draft, Ciernik and his family flew over from Europe to New York with the intention of catching a connecting flight to Nashville for the big event.

      But when they arrived in the Big Apple, bad weather had grounded just about every flight, including the Ciernik clan’s jet to Tennessee.

      So, not to be denied, the Cierniks went to Plan B, namely renting a car at Kennedy Airport and making the 14-hour drive without so much as a complaint.

      As fate would have it, the Flyers chose him in the fourth round (120th overall).

      There were smiles all around on Friday night when Ciernik scored a tying goal late in the second period of the Flyers-Rangers rookie game at the PPL Center.

      Although the Rangers would go on to a 4-2 win, it didn’t curb Ciernik’s enthusiasm for results of the evening.

      He won’t be around too long to enjoy his success because he’s headed back to Sweden shortly to start his season with Sweden’s Sodrtalje team.

      After the game, Ciernik talked about his brief experience in Philadelphia.

      “It wss unbelievable,” Ciernik said. “For all the guys who got drafted, it was a surreal experience. It (the PPL Center) is a great facility, too. It looks like an NHL rink, so it’s a heck of a first game.”

      Some are starting to wonder Ciernik why he’s even going back for another year in Sweden.

      “I’m fortunate to be here,” he explained. “Their season starts next week so there’s a lot of stuff going on. But I’m happy to be here.”

      The schedule being what it is, Ciernik won’t be able to participate in the Flyers’ regular training camp, which opens on Thursday.

      Getting that goal did bring a sigh of relief.

      “It definitely go a monkey off my back,” he said. “I didn’t feel a hundred percent during the (camp) in Sweden, so to score here, it was a good thing for my confidence.”

      He’s only about 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, so he’s not going to overpower too many NHL defensemen. He relies more on other attributes.

      “I just try to get through with things that stand out in my game, like speed,” he said. “As long as I can just be smart with how I play – I’m not going to be 6-foot-4, ever – so I have to be smart.”

      A lot of the Flyer veterans have been working out at the Flyers Training Center and Ciernik had a chance to mingle with a view. He calls it a great experience.

      “I saw a couple at breakfast,” he said. “I was too scared to go up to them and say anything. It’s cool to see some of those guys. They’re really nice. When they see us young guys in the gym, they will say hi and welcome. It’s definitely something I respect out of them, just come to us younger guys and be nice.”

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.