Although the annual Rookie Game is not an "official" game, it is something that the Flyers prospects themselves look forward to at the conclusion of Rookie Camp.
This year's game marks the third straight year that the Flyers rookies will play against the New York Islanders' rookies. The game will take place at the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, New York; the NHL Islanders' practice facility. Game time is 6 p.m. ET and will be streamed on both the Islanders and Flyers website.
Last year at the Wells Fargo Center, the Islanders rookies beat the Flyers rookies, 4-3, in overtime after Philly had led most of the game. Two years, ago the Flyers side won the first meeting.
While the Rookie Games are often somewhat sloppily played in terms of execution -- these are rookies, after all, and the preparation time to come together as a team is rather short -- they make up for in a higher level of emotion than a typical pro-level preseason game in which participating veterans gradually gear up their games for the regular season.
A who's who of Flyers prospects over the last decade have participated in the Rookie Game over the years: Claude Giroux (2007 and 2008), James van Riemsdyk (who scored a record four goals in the 2009 game), Sean Couturier (2011), now-former Flyer Brayden Schenn (2011), Scott Laughton (2012-2014), Samuel Morin (2013-2014, 2016-2017), Travis Sanheim (2016-2017), Ivan Provorov (2016), Travis Konecny (2016), Nolan Patrick (2017), and many others.
This year, there are numerous returning Flyers prospects who played in the 2017 game at the Wells Fargo Center. In that contest, the Flyers rookies dominated in the first period and led for much of the game.
Oskar Lindblom, Philippe Myers, Mikhail Vorobyev and Mark Friedman are among the returning participants from last year's game who played at the pro level. Carter Hart is back as well, along with highly touted 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost.
A full roster will be released later, but the group is eager for a bit of revenge on the Islanders' home turf this year.
"Looking back, that was a pretty cool experience at the Wells Fargo [Center]; the crowd was insane," Bunnaman said. "I had the penalty shot, but I just couldn't get it to go in. We're going just to get them back in New York... I'm one of the older guys now, so I kind of know what to expect. There's a lot of high-end skill guys out there -- on the Islanders' side, too -- and there's some big bodies."
For the five amateur tryout (ATO) invitees to the Flyers' Rookie Camp, Wednesday's game in East Meadow represents a final showcase to seek an entry-level contract or to start building their case for the future. The Flyers' ATO players forwards Mitchell Balmas and Hunter Holmes, defensemen Yegor Zamula and Bradley Lalonde, and goaltender Liam Hughes.
Last year, Flyers assistant coach Gord Murphy and Lehigh Valley Phantoms assistant Kerry Huffman ran the Philadelphia bench during the Rookie Game at the Wells Fargo Center. This time around, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol will step behind the bench.
The 2018 Rookie Game will conclude Rookie Camp. The Flyers' full training camp begins on Friday. As such, Wednesday's game in New York is the final day in which the prospect group has the focus solely upon itself. The returning pro players such as Lindblom, Myers, Friedman and Vorobyev will be expected to be the tone-setters in the Rookie Game, while eyes will also be upon Hart, Frost and Ratcliffe to be standout performers.
"It's my second time ever putting on a Flyers jersey. First time, we dropped that one. We're going out there to win. We've come into this week, had two practice and we have become a team in that short little while we're together," Ratcliffe said.
After Development Camp in July and two days of on-ice work at Rookie Camp this month, the Flyers' prospects are also glad to have opponents who represent a different uniform. It gets the competitive juices flowing a little more than would an intrasquad scrimmage.
Added Ratcliffe: "We've got a lot of personal things [at stake], too. We've got guys who are trying to make an impression, but that comes from playing a team game. We're excited about it. When you are practicing against your teammates, you kind of hold back a little, but when you are out there against another team, it's game conditions, and you go all out to win."
ROOKIE GAME ROSTER
Flyers at NY Islanders, 6 p.m. ET
46 Mikhail Vorobyev C
54 Oskar Lindblom LW
63 German Rubtsov C
64 Maksim Sushko RW
68 Morgan Frost C
76 Isaac Ratcliffe C
78 Matthew Strome LW
81 Carsen Twarynski LW
82 Connor Bunnaman C
84 Mitchell Balmas C
85 Hunter Holmes C
59 Mark Friedman
61 Philippe Myers
70 Yegor Zamula
72 David Drake
77 James de Haas
83 Bradley Lalonde
86 Wyatte Wylie
67 Liam Hughes
79 Carter Hart