The Canadian Hockey League series of games featuring squads comprised of players from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League against the Russian national under-20 team is underway. The CHL-Russia series is often viewed as a precursor to roster battles for the World Junior Championships.
Two Flyers prospects from the OHL -- 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost and 2017 second-rounder Isaac Ratcliffe -- will take part in Thursday's game in Sarnia. Within the three CHL leagues, most teams have played 16 to 19 games to date during the regular season.
Over in the NCAA, depending on the conference and individual schedules, teams have played as few as three to as many as seven regular season games to date.
Here is a roundup of recent games involving Flyers prospects from the CHL and NCAA:
Morgan Frost (C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL): Frost went on a tear at the same time that the Arizona Coyotes returned 2018 first-round pick Barrett Hayton to the Greyhounds. Although both are natural centers and do not regularly play on the same line except for the power play or in 3-on-3 overtime situation, other teams are forced to contend with a deeper lineup.
Over an eight-game span from Oct. 10 to 26, Frost racked up seven goals, 13 assists and a whopping 20 points. More important, Frost picked up the pace of his game during that span to take better advantage of his natural skating gifts rather than relying so heavily on slowing the play down.
Frost has not been nearly as dominant over his last four games as he was during the previous stretch but has continued to get his points. On Sunday, in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Sarnia Sting, Frost was held without a point for just the third time in 19 games this season. He did, however, successfully convert his attempt in the shootout, scoring upstairs on the backhand.
Last season's OHL scoring championship and MVP runner-up, Frost is again second in the league in scoring so far this season. His 33 points (12g, 21a) are three points off the pace being set by 20-year-old North Bay Battalion right winger Justin Brazeau.
Isaac Ratcliffe (LW/RW, Guelph Storm, OHL): Guelph captain Ratcliffe has scored 13 goals among his 21 points to date. He had a frustrating weekend (Oct. 19-21) that saw him uncharacteristically get on the wrong side of the referees and receive 10-minute misconducts in back-to-back games and then an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that put his team shorthanded in the third period of the following game (among three minors whistled on Ratcllife that afternoon).
Ratcliffe responded the right way to the frustration, however. He went off on a four-game tear, racking up six goals and eight points. He was then held without a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to Sault Ste. Marie that saw the Greyhounds overcome a 3-1 deficit late in the third period. Nevertheless, Ratcliffe was selected as the third-star of the night for how difficult it was for the Greyhounds to take the puck away from the towering 6-foot-6 winger.
Matthew Strome (left wing, Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL): Strome's strengths (good hands, good ice vision and overall hockey sense) and weaknesses (a need to correct significant skating deficiencies) are well-known. Strome is currently third on his team in scoring with 19 points (6g, 13a) despite being held to just one point over his last four games. His best stretch of play offensively was a three-game span from Oct. 17 to 20 that saw him rack up nearly half of his total points this season. He had nine points (3g, 6a) in that stretch, including a four-assist outburst against Owen Sound and his lone two-goal game of the season in a 4-3 road loss to Sault Ste. Marie (a rematch of last season's playoff final opponents).
Maksim Sushko (RW, Owen Sound Attack, OHL): A streak scorer throughout his junior hockey career, Sushko's season numbers (13 points in 18 games and a team-low -8 rating at even strength) are reflective of his slow start in October. Through the first nine games of the season, he had yet to score a goal (after notching 31 last season) and had just three assists to go along with a -8 rating. Over his last nine games, however, he'd posted at least one point in seven games. During the current stretch, he has chipped in four goals and six assists for 10 points. A combined +23 over his first years in the OHL, Sushko racked up a half-dozen shorthanded goals last season but has yet to bag one through the first 18 games of the current campaign.
Wyatte Wylie (D, Everett Silvertips, WHL): Wylie grew last year into the role of being an all-situations blueliner for the Silvertips and has continued that trend in the early going of the new season. Apart from being a regular on the penalty kill and seeing ice time against other teams' top lines, he is also part of Everett's first power play unit. Offensively, Wylie has contributed 15 points (2g, 13a) to date in 17 games to rank third on his team. Although his future pro role would not likely be offense-oriented, he has shown that he is a versatile blueliner who can help in a variety of ways.
Yegor Zamula (D, Calgary Hitmen, WHL): The lanky puck-mover with solid defensive instincts has been a bright spot on a struggling Calgary team that has stumbled out to a 5-11-2 record and is tied for the poorest team goals against average in the league. The 18-year-old Zamula has dressed in 18 games and posted an even plus-minus rating. He has also chipped in two goals (matching his season total from 2017-18) and nine points (he had 11 last season).
Joel Farabee (LW, Boston University, Hockey East): BU is off to a very disappointing start this season, posting a 1-4-1 record thus far. Farabee, an 18-year-old freshman drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, is holding his own, however. He has two goals (including a shorthander) and an assist in his first six regular season games of collegiate hockey.
Jay O'Brien (C, Providence,Hockey East): The Flyers other 2018 first-round pick has played into some tough puck luck -- and far worse injury luck -- in his freshman season so far. Statistically, he is pointless through his first five games as a freshman. However, it should be noted that he had to leave to leave the Oct. 19 game against UConn midway through the second period after getting rocked on what was called a charging penalty against the Huskies' Carter Turnbull. O'Brien did not return for the third period and then missed the next two games with an upper-body injury. He returned for the Nov. 3 game against Holy Cross but, in the third period, was felled by a head-high hit from the Crusaders' Ryan Leibold.
Noah Cates (LW/C, Minnesota Duluth, NCHC): Cates enjoyed an excellent second half playing in the USHL last season, and has carried it over thus far into a very strong freshman season to date for the nationally top-ranked Bulldogs. In eight games, he's posted six points (3g, 3a) and shown acumen on both sides of the puck. Noah and his older brother, Jackson Cates, have been dynamic linemates together. While Noah's skating quickness could still use some improvement, his overall game is coming together nicely and the 19-year-old shows good hockey sense.
Wyatt Kalynuk (D, Wisconsin, Big Ten): The Badgers sophomore blueliner has emerged as one of the best offensive-minded defensemen across all of collegiate hockey. The 21-year-old sees the ice extremely well, is elusive on his skates, and is reliable in getting shots on the net. Even as a freshman last year, the late-blooming talent was a formidable threat on the power play in particular. So far this season, he has posted four goals and nine points in eight games, forcing opponents to be aware of him at all times. Kalynuk's defensive game has also improved markedly since last season but remains his primary work in progress before a potential pro career.
Gavin Hain (C/LW, North Dakota, NCHC): The US National Team Development Program product is a collegiate hockey freshman this season.He has battled an undisclosed injury for several weeks but recently played in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game against Minnesota. For the season, he has dressed in three games and recorded his first collegiate hockey assist in a 1-1 tie against Bemidji State on Oct. 13.
Wade Allison (RW, Western Michigan, WCHA): The junior power forward, who was among the NCAA's leading scorers nationwide last season before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in January, has yet to play this season.
Tanner Laczynski (RW, Ohio State, WCHA): A vital all-situations player for the Buckeyes, the junior-season forward has missed the Buckeyes' last three games due to an undisclosed injury. He has five points (two goals, three assists) and 15 shots on goal through his first five games.
Jack St. Ivany (D, Yale, ECAC): Coming off a breakout USHL season, the Californian is a freshman at Yale. He has dressed in all three games to date, chipping in one assist, four shots on goal and a plus-two rating.
Brendan Warren (LW, Michigan, Big Ten): More a checking-oriented forward than a scorer, the senior forward has a goal and two points for the Wolverines through seven games.
Matej Tomek (G, Nebraska-Omaha, NCHC): After leaving UND to play a year of USHL hockey for much-needed playing time, Tomek transferred this season to Omaha. The junior-season goalie has made two appearances for the Mavericks so far this season; a start and a relief outing. He has stopped 16 of 21 shots.