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Shayne Gostisbehere thankful for schedule

Florida road trip allows Flyers defenseman to have early Thanksgiving with family

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Shayne Gostisbehere's family had long written off spending the holidays with him because of his hockey career. This year, the Philadelphia Flyers' schedule broke just right to get him home for a South Florida-style early Thanksgiving.

Gostisbehere and the Flyers defeated the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Tuesday, and that was only one event he would get to share with his family.

"Just being with my family at home, at my house, I think that was my favorite part," Gostisbehere said.

Grandpa was on the grill with temperatures in the 70s and mom served up his favorite, king crab legs, on Monday when the Flyers got to South Florida. 

With his mother, Christine, and father, Regis, grandmother Carol and grandfather Denis, and aunt Lisa and uncle Joe, Shayne brought Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz, his roommate from the minors, to enjoy a family meal. Sister Felicia joined the party via Facetime video chat from Southwest Florida, but came to town in time for the Flyers' game in Sunrise.

They had a suite at BB&T Center provided by his father and grandfather's employer, Lotspeich Company of Florida for the game Tuesday and the family went across the state to see the Flyers play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

Video: PHI@CAR: Gostisbehere opens scoring with PPG

"Denis has worked for us for 40 years and Regis has been with us for 22 years," said Lotspeich owner Mike Fee, who brought along 25 employees and their guests. "They've gotten us all into hockey fever. We're just ecstatic about what [Gostisbehere] has done and we're having a great time with it. This is easy for us to do. It's a lot of fun. It's like our family playing."

In his second full season in the NHL, Shayne hadn't been home around Thanksgiving in at least five years. He was born in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and grew up in Margate, a short drive from the Panthers practice facility where Felicia trained as a figure skater and Shayne first learned to play hockey at age 5.

Once it was apparent he had legitimate talent and had to leave the state to pursue his career, which he did at 16 years old, Christine says they were resigned as a hockey family to getting quality time with him whenever they could, regardless of the calendar.

"It was something that me and my family planned on doing," Shayne said. "I knew I wanted to go away to boarding school and I wanted to move up north somehow."

Video: CAR@PHI: Gostisbehere beats Lack from faceoff circle

So when he can catch a break to spend some time with his family is especially dear to all of them.

"We don't see him often, and even when we do see him, he's still playing, so he's still taking game day naps and still practicing in the morning," Felicia said. "The time we get with him is so limited that it really is a celebration when we're able to spend time with him."

One occasion they hadn't planned on him missing was Felicia's wedding. She and her fiance Christopher set the date for New Year's Eve 2016 before he earned a spot on the Flyers' roster last season, so they plan to have him there through Facetime while the Flyers are in Los Angeles to play the Kings.

"It stinks for me personally, but I couldn't be prouder of him and everything he's done," Felicia said.

But because the Flyers schedule will allow for another trip home for Christmas, they're going to have a pre-wedding celebration with him and the 18 family members from France who are coming for the ceremony.

"It's funny because he's coming for Christmas but I feel like it's Christmas already," she said. "Every time we see him it's special."

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