VOORHEES, N.J. – With at least two prominent international conflicts taking place across the world, the United States military remains on high alert for an escalation of activity.
So on Tuesday, it was a nice respite from the demands of American security when about 20 members of Pennsylvania- and New Jersey-based military visited the Flyers for their annual visit at the Flyers Training Center.
This was a day to put on the ice skates and zoom around the ice with some of their favorite sports heroes. And then have a tour of the training facility.
“This is awesome, this is amazing,” said M.J. Flammer, who is the New Jersey senior center operations and program manager, stationed at McGuire AFB. “The script that we have this year is completely different than we had last year. We even had several who did not know how to skate. They ‘braved’ the elements anyway. I didn’t see many fall and they all had a great time.”
Coach John Tortorella, who attended his second year of this event, had some very positive things to say.
“That (the military presence) is more important than anything we do,” Tortorella said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “Because we don’t have a chance to do what we do if we don’t have them, both men and women that are out there.”
“It puts it in perspective for me, when you hear some of the stories. What we do as far as entertainment means nothing. That’s the most important stuff.”
The coach enjoys watching his players interact with the visiting personnel.
“It’s great for our players,” he said. “The coolest thing about sport is when you get an opportunity to do these things and talk about them. There are some incredible stories and some that we don’t even know that aren’t talked about on the scoreboard.”
Cam Atkinson sponsors his own “Force Network Fund” which assists military personnel financially so he’s well aware of this Flyers project.
“For them to come out and skate with us, that’s what it is all about,” he said. “I can’t thank the men and women enough for what they do and their service which allows us to play the same we love on a daily basis.
“I wouldn’t even call it giving back, just giving our time, have fun with them, teach them how to skate, shoot, score goals, different celebrations. It goes a long way. It’s great. It’s a pretty messed-up world we live in right now. The men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice on a daily basis, that’s what we appreciate.”
Scott Laughton enjoys this date each year.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Any time you get an opportunity to see how much they do for us, it’s special. It’s going to be awesome to kind of have them in the room. It was really cool out there.”
On Monday morning, Tortorella said Owen Tippett had to be a little more proactive in his approach to his game. On Monday night, Tippett scored a breakaway goal and looked a lot more aggressive in a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“He played well,” Tortorella acknowledged. “That line had some good shifts. I want to see a little bit of power in his game. He showed that he’s able to do that last year as he grew. I think he’s been a little inconsistent in the power part of it. I don’t want him to forget that. Bringing pucks to net, finishing checks have to be part of his game.”
>Frost passes the grade
Tortorella said the return of Morgan Frost after a six-game healthy scratch span was OK vs. the Hurricanes.
“Made some plays,” the coach said. “I thought he struggled early, turned a couple over, which I’m trying to giveway leeway because we’re trying to be more offensive. I thought he ended up making some plays during the game, did some good things holding onto pucks. For a guy who hasn’t played much, I thought he handled himself well.”
Said Frost: “I think just getting back into the game pace, my first couple shifts I think I got pinned in my own zone a little bit. But as the game went on I started to feel better and more comfortable.”
Sean Couturier and Travis Sanheim did not skate. They were off for a maintenance day. . .No updates on injured defensemen Marc Staal and Rasmus Ristolainen (who has yet to play this season) according to Tortorella.