With all of the talk surrounding rookies during the 2011-12 Flyers season, the club’s top minor league affiliate can also boast the same success among first year players.
At the top of that list is forward Jason Akeson.
Akeson not only led all rookies on the team in scoring, he led all players who began the season on the team in scoring with 14 goals and 41 assists for 55 points while appearing in all 76 games with Adirondack.
Matt Ford, who was acquired mid-season, statistically led the Phantoms with 59 points, however 28 of those came prior to joining the team with the Hershey Bears.
Akeson’s rookie season was also as consistent as they come. He recorded at least a point in 43 of his 76 games, which included nine multiple point games including a four-assist game in a 5-2 win over the Manchester Monarchs on Feb. 19.
“Look at his numbers and they speak for themselves,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers Director of Hockey Operations. “He’s a creative guy that sees the ice extremely well. He has really good poise with the puck and can slow things down. On the power-play he can make plays and find guys.”
Six times during the season, Akeson also strung together a point streak of three or more games, including two five-game point streaks.
What perhaps is the most encouraging aspect of Akeson is that throughout his hockey career he has never taken a step back, gaining experience and improving year after year.
“What makes him special is that he can make plays,” added Pryor. “He’s got a year under his belt; he’s going to get stronger now that he has a summer to work on conditioning and strength, which is only going to help going into next year.”
Akeson went from 64 points in his first full year with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League to 80 points in his second. He then surpassed the 100-point mark with 24 goals and 84 assists for 108 points in 2010-11.
What many fans might find surprising given the numbers is that Akeson was not drafted by any team in the NHL.
The 5’10’’, 190-pound forward from Orleans, Ontario signed with the Flyers as a free agent on Mar. 2, 2011.
He spent a total of four seasons playing junior with the OHL’s Rangers where he amassed 68 goals and 168 assists for 254 points in 201 regular season games, and an additional 29 points (11G-18A) in 43 postseason games.
With numbers like these and his knack for improving each year, Flyers fans just might be seeing Akeson in Orange & Black come next Fall.