Peter Laviolette was looking to put a tough body in the line up for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres after the rough play and war of words that ensued after Game 4.
His response was prospect Zac Rinaldo
The 5’11’’, the 201-pound Rinaldo recently completed his first year with the Flyers’ farm team in Adirondack.
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He was selected by the Flyers in the sixth round (178th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Though not receiving a call-up during the regular season, Rinaldo joined the Flyers as part of the “Black Aces”, a select group of prospects that practice with the team during the playoff run in case any injuries occur.
With the series tied at 2-2, he soon found himself in the line up for a pivotal Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center for his debut in the NHL on April 22.
The Flyers fell into an early 3-0 hole, leading to Rinaldo only receiving 1:56 worth of ice-time, but he made the most out of what he did receive. He had three shifts and recorded three hits in the matinee.
In his second game, Rinaldo saw more ice time and towards the end of the game, got into a scrap with Bruins’ forward Milan Lucic, who stands 6’4’’ and 220 pounds. Both parties earned a 10-minute misconduct with less than five minutes to go in the game.
Rinaldo finished the game with 12 minutes in penalties.
Prior to the Flyers postseason, Rinaldo spent his rookie campaign in Glens Falls, N.Y., where he posted three goals and six assists for nine points for Adirondack appearing in 60 of their 80 regular season games.
The 20-year-old made his mark however with his fists and in the penalty box.
He recorded 331 penalty minutes during the year to lead Adirondack, all AHL rookies and second overall in the entire League trailing the leader by just three penalty minutes.
His 331 penalty minutes rank fourth-highest in Phantoms history and the most since the 2003-04 season when Peter Vandermeer totaled 398.
A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Rinaldo may not be the offense that the team is looking for, but is most likely to appear in a Flyers’ sweater more than twice next season to bring some rough and tough hockey into the game.