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Memorial Cup: Ratcliffe, Storm kick off tournament

An update as Flyers prospect attempting to capture CHL's most coveted trophy

by @nhlflyers

The prestigious Memorial Cup tournament got underway over the weekend and a Flyers prospect has the opportunity to capture the title for the second straight year.

Isaac Ratcliffe, the club's second round pick at 35th overall in 2017, captained the Guelph Storm to the OHL Championships and had played 24 games in an 52-day span from Mar 22-May 12. After a six-day break, they opened the tournament with games on Saturday and Sunday. 

Guelph stormed out of the gates with a 5-2 win over QMJHL finalist, Rouyn-Noranda, where Ratcliffe recorded a primary assist, but suffered a 4-2 loss on Sunday to the Q-Champions, Halifax Mooseheads, who are also the host-city of the tournament. The Mooseheads are 2-0-0 in the tournament and with four points, have already punched their way to the semifinal game on Friday.

The Storm took six penalties in the final 30 minutes of Sunday's game to shoot themselves in the foot in the loss. Ratcliffe took responsibility, and like so many times throughout the playoffs, know his team has the ability to respond the right way.

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WHC Update: USA climbs to the top

JVR leads Americans past Germany; Voracek among tournament leaders

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

After Team USA, Canada and two-time defending gold medalist Sweden all suffered mild upset losses on the opening day of the 2019 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, all of the favored teams have won their games in the days that have followed. 

On Sunday, however, Germany threw a scare into Team USA. The Americans trailed first and the game was tied 1-1 until the middle stage of the third period before USA pulled away for a 3-1 win and a 5-1-0 overall record with one of the wins coming in overtime against Finland.

A nice tip-in goal by Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk tied the game at 1-1 late in the first period. Early in the third period, he nearly duplicated the feat. Midway through the frame, JVR executed a gorgeous saucer pass over two German sticks to Dylan Larkin, who buried a shot for a 2-1 American lead. JVR now has 5 points (2g-3a) in six games. Team USA wraps up pool play on Tuesday with a marquee game against Canada.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: Highlights: @JVReemer21 had a goal and a helper in a 3-1 @usahockey win over @deb_teams on Day 10 at #IIHFWorlds @NHLFlyers More game highlights >

Also on Sunday, Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek collected two more assists as the Czech Republic (5-1-0) blew out winless Austria 8-0 to improve to 5-1-0 in the preliminary round.

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Top Moments: Carter Hart Season in Review

Flyers rookie goaltender emerges as face of the future in Philly

by Brian Born | Contributor @nhlflyers

Hart's pad stop on Nylander

TOR@PHI: Hart stops Nylander to seal shootout win

Carter Hart stares down William Nylander's shootout attempt and makes the save with his pad, securing a win for the Flyers

  • 00:58 •

The future has arrived for the Philadelphia Flyers. After a season where the club saw eight different goaltenders suit up, there was one certainty…Carter Hart has it. The 20-year-old Canadian netminder stepped onto the NHL Stage in mid-December and proved to be a stabilizing force between the pipes. Hart posted a 2.83 GAA and .917% save-percentage during his rookie campaign, earning himself a 16-13-1 record. Although every rookie season has its trials and tribulations, Hart also flashed moments of brilliance en route to winning the Toyota Cup Award, given to the Flyer with the most points from being selected as a star of the game.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: The @Toyota Cup goes to rookie Carter Hart!

There is no shortage of confidence from Carter Hart's teammates when speaking of his potential. During 2019 Break Up Day, Flyers leader Sean Couturier told the media, "[Hart] definitely had an impact on our team this year. He was great. Won us some games. You just want to hope it keeps going, but let's not put too much pressure on him. He's still young, he's still learning." Nolan Patrick also echoed this sentiment, "You guys saw it. He's an unbelievable goalie...It's nice knowing we have him back there."

Video: Hart discusses his rookie season with Flyers

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WHC: Flyers taking center stage

Couturier on defense, Voracek welcomes a son, Myers rushes to Europe and more from Worlds

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The number of Flyers players participating in the 2019 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia has grown from eight to nine. With Team Canada's blueline depleted by injury, Hockey Canada added Flyers rookie defenseman Philippe Myers to the roster on Wednesday. 

Myers was initially considered questionable to doubtful to be available for Team Canada when they played France the following day. Two reasons: 1) On very short notice, he had to make it from North America to Slovakia in time for the game; 2) Myers had neither played nor practiced with a team in a full month because of the time that has elapsed since the Flyers' and Phantoms' seasons respectively ended. 

With Team Canada potentially caught short on the blueline, alternate captain Sean Couturier approached head coach Alain Vigneault. The Flyers center volunteered to skate shifts on defense if need be. Couturier explained that he had played some defense back in minor hockey in New Brunswick. Although far from ideal, at least it gave the Canadian team an emergency option.

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Top Moments: Claude Giroux Season in Review

Giroux wraps up another season as the Flyers lone all-star and point leader

by Brian Born | Contributor @NHLFlyers

Season Highlights: Claude Giroux

Top moments of Giroux's season

Top moments of Giroux's season

  • 01:18 •

Even after 12 years in the NHL, Claude Giroux hasn't stopped impressing. The Flyers captain just completed his third consecutive 82 game season and led the club with 85 points (22G-63A). The versatile forward also continued to club the Flyers all-time leaderboard this year after playing in his 800th career game (3rd all-time), recorded his 500th assist (2nd all-time) and 700th NHL point (fourth all-time).

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: 8������0������0������ games in orange and black. Congrats, @28CGiroux!

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: The 8������0������0������ games club. #LetsGoFlyers

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: The 5������0������0������ Club. #LetsGoFlyers

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Mr. 7������0������0������������#LetsGoFlyers

This summer, Giroux and his wife Ryanne are expecting to welcome a baby boy into the world, a first child for the couple. Soon, the Giroux household will be a family of five (we can't forget about Harvey and Charlie, obviously)!  

Instagram from @ryannegiroux: Baby BOY we are so excited to meet you!!💙💙 #happyvalentinesday

Instagram from @28cgiroux: Obligatory family photo.

Check out some of The Captain's top moments from the 2018-19 season below.

Video: The Captain reviews his season


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Top Moments: Jake Voracek Season in Review

Another 20-goal season in the books, Voracek remains consistent

by Brian Born | Contributor @nhlflyers

After 605 games and eight years in Philadelphia, Jake Voracek has proven to be a consistent piece of the Flyers core. Since joining the Flyers in 2011, Voracek has eclipsed the 20-goal mark six times, matching that total in each of the past three seasons. Following the departure of Wayne Simmonds, Voracek became an alternate captain for the Flyers as one of its established leaders in the locker room.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Voracek this out. #PHIvsCBJ | #LetsGoFlyers

This summer, Voracek is representing Team Czech in the 2019 IIHF World Championships and serves as captain of the squad.

Check out some of Jake Voracek's top moments from the 2018-19 season below.

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Top Moments: Sean Couturier Season in Review

Gene Hart Memorial Award winner reaches new career-high during 2018-19

by Brian Born | Contributor @NHLFlyers

Season Highlights: Sean Couturier

Top plays from Couturier's season

Top plays from Couturier's season

  • 01:15 •

Last season, Sean Couturier posted a career high in goals (31), assists (45) and points (76), while also being named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. For an encore in 2018-19, Couturier matched his point total, reached a new-high in goals scored (33) and still managed 43 assists. In addition to earning more responsibility on the ice as the Flyers most complete two-way forward, the 26-year-old was rewarded for his leadership as an alternate captain. Following the season, Couturier received the Bobbly Clarke Trophy as the Flyers MVP as well as the Gene Hart Memorial Trophy as the member of the club who demonstrated the most heart over the 82-game season.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: MVP.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: Coots has been awarded the Gene Hart Memorial Trophy!

This summer, Sean Couturier is representing Team Canada in the 2019 IIHF Worlds and serving as an alternate captain.

Tweet from @HC_Men: Your 2019 #IIHFWorlds Team Canada captains:����� - Kyle Turris🅰��� - Sean Couturier🅰��� ��� Mark Stone

Video: Coots discusses his first season as alternate captain

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Meltzer: Checking in at Worlds

Flyers contributor gives his impressions on the eight Flyers in action overseas

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

After a wild day on Monday at the 2019 IIHF World Championships that featured a buzzer-beating game-winning goal for Team Canada against host team Slovakia and a Team USA overtime victory over previously undefeated Finland, there is a relatively "light" docket at the tournament on Wednesday. 

Most notably from a Flyers standpoint, Michael Raffl and Team Austria will look for their first win of the tournament as they aim to upset Switzerland. By the end of Tuesday, all teams in the tournament will have played three games in the preliminary round. Here's a look at how the Flyers participants have fared so far.

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Top Moments: James van Riemsdyk Season in Review

van Riemsdyk turns in strong second half in Philadelphia return

by Brian Born | Contributor @nhlflyers

Season Highlights: van Riemsdyk

Top plays of JVR's season

Top plays of JVR's season

  • 01:13 •

There's no place like home.

That was the vibe when south-Jersey native James van Riemsdyk returned to the Philadelphia Flyers this summer as a free agent, rejoining the organization that drafted him with the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft. Following a 36-goal season in Toronto last year, JVR had high expectations to make an immediate impact, but an early season lower-body injury sidelined the forward for sixteen games. This injury attributed to a slower-start than preferred for the 30-year-old left-winger.

Video: JVR discusses his first season back in Philly

Once returning, van Riemsdyk's resilient nature helped him bounce back into the player the organization expected him to be. During the 2018-19 campaign, JVR totaled 27g-21a-48pts in 66 games played. Although van Riemsdyk fell short of his point total from last season (36G-18A-54PTS), his average points per game increased from .67 to .73. Much of the Flyers late season surge can be credited to the improved play of van Riemsdyk, who tallied 20 goals and 10 assists from Jan. 10-March 21, where the Flyers posted a 21-9-1 record. Despite a strong finish to the season, van Riemsdyk has bigger plans in mind for next year after failing to clinch a playoff berth.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: JVR on moving forward next year: "We all have the same end goal. We want to win hockey games and be successful."

Check out some of JVR's more memorable moments of the season below.

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Ratcliffe captains Guelph to OHL title, berth in Memorial Cup

Flyers prospect leads Storm to unprecedented run to OHL Championship

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

Captained by Flyers left wing prospect Isaac Ratcliffe, the Guelph Storm have completed one of the most remarkable playoff runs in the annals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). 

On Sunday in Guelph, the Storm defeated the Ottawa 67's, 8-3, to win the OHL championship in six games.

"Every memory the past four years all the way from my first thing in Guelph is really hitting me right now," said Ratcliffe on the OHL's website after receiving the J. Ross Robertson Cup. 

"All the work we've put in, everything we've done this year. The resiliency from this team is unbelievable, none like I've ever seen before. I've never played on a team with this much skill, this much class and this much character. I'm so happy right now and we're not done."

After winning their opening round series with ease in a four-game sweep of Kitchener, Guelph had to overcome series deficits of 3-0 (vs. London Knights), 3-1 (Saginaw Spirit) and 2-0 (Ottawa) to win the championship. In the title-winning game on Sunday, the Storm trailed 2-0 at the first intermission before scoring five straight goals in the second period to seize control.

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