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For van Riemsdyk, California dreaming

by Adam Kimelman /
James van Riemsdyk may be just 20-years-old, but he's no stranger to playing hockey in some pretty far-flung outposts.

Now the Philadelphia Flyers rookie forward is experiencing life in Southern California for the first time, believe it or not.

Van Riemsdyk played in the 2007 World Junior Championship in Leksand and Mora in Sweden; the 2007 World Under-18 Championships in Tampere, Finland; and the 2008 World Junior Championship in Liberec and Pardubice in the Czech Republic.

The Flyers' five-game road trip, which started Wednesday in Los Angeles, however, was his first time going west.

"It should be a huge thrill," van Riemsdyk told reporters prior to leaving Monday night. "I have never been that far out west. Kansas is the furthest west I have been."

Van Riemsdyk has been providing fans with some thrills. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right wing returned from a bad case of the flu that caused him to miss Saturday's game against Buffalo with the game-winning goal in Monday's defeat of the New Jersey Devils.

He made his first game on the West Coast a memorable one, as he scored the game-winning goal in the Flyers' 3-2 win against the Kings. He has goals in three straight games -- all game-winners. His six goals and 17 points are second among all rookies, and his 11 assists is tops among all first-year players, and his 4 game-winning goals is tied for the League lead. Among rookie scorers, he trails only the Islanders' John Tavares, who has played 21 games to van Riemsdyk's 15.

He'll have a chance to add to those totals Friday, when the next game of the Flyers' five-game road trip takes them to San Jose (10 p.m., NHLN-US).

Van Riemsdyk, who grew up near Atlantic Ocean beaches in Middletown, N.J., is looking forward to glimpsing the beaches on the other side of the country.

"I've never seen the Pacific Ocean," he said. "It's pretty cool to see the whole country. It will be great to see these buildings and team atmosphere out there. It's obviously a different experience, so that will be a pretty big thrill."

After San Jose, the trip will take the Flyers to Phoenix, Colorado and the Islanders.

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