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Flyers prospects bond on the beach

Philadelphia hopefuls participate in annual 'Trial on the Isle'

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

STONE HARBOR, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers spent their final day of development camp away from the rink, taking part in their annual "Trial on the Isle."

The day featured team-building activities that included members of the community and raised money for veterans' charities. 

"It's nice to interact with the fans and not having them watch us 24/7," said forward Tyrell Goulbourne, a third-round pick (No. 72) in the 2013 NHL Draft attending his fourth development camp. "They come to watch, but we can actually talk to them as well and spend time with them."

The morning started on the beach with players split into teams of five and given ice cream wagons, which they had to push through the sand and sell ice cream bars. After selling 10 bars the players competed in a trivia contest, and then had to push their ice cream wagon back to the start line. There also was a sand sculpture competition.

Defenseman Travis Sanheim, the 17th pick of the 2014 draft, captained the team that raised the most money selling ice cream. Defenseman Ivan Provorov, the seventh pick of the 2015 draft, led the group that had the winning sand sculpture, which included an American flag and the word VETS. Goulbourne's team won the race. 

Tweet from @NHLAdamK: Ivan Provorov's group has the winning sand sculpture

After a quick dip in the ocean, the players traveled to Yacht Club of Stone Harbor for some in-water basketball and golf, followed by a relay race that included swimming, pedal boats, kayaking and paddleboarding. The competition finished with the teams being handed an inflatable raft, three inner tubes, electrical tape and some rope, and told to build something they could push around the bay. 

"That was tough," said defenseman Samuel Morin, the 11th pick of the 2013 draft. "We were the only team that … I needed to blow up my own raft. It was pretty hard. But I liked it."

Tweet from @NHLAdamK: Little trouble at the buoy but the first leg of the swim went OK

The day lent itself to some bending of the rules - one team had two players towed back in a motorboat - but the one team to finish the race by the rules was led by Goulbourne, and included goaltenders Alex Lyon and Matej Tomek, and forwards Pascal Laberge and Radel Fazleev. 

It's the second straight year Goulbourne has been on the winning team at the yacht club. 

"Back-to-back," he said. "It's nice to win. I think everybody did a good job. A lot tougher this year with the events this year. But my team pulled through and I'm proud of them." 

After lunch, the players heard from retired Army ranger and special forces officer Josh Collins, who is in the midst of a stand-up paddle board trip from Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Statue of Liberty to raise money for veterans. One of the focuses of his talk was the meaning of teamwork and mission.

"I wanted people to hear his story because it was all about team and mission," Flyers director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin said. "It's no different what we're doing here today. It's about your team and what is your mission. Our mission is to win the Stanley Cup. To do that, we have to bond and jell as a team. That's what Josh was saying; there's a bigger picture. There's a bigger picture than just Josh Collins. There's a bigger picture than just Shayne Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux. There's a supporting cast that will get us to the promise land.

"Remember those people because it's not just you. Look around to the person to the left of you and the person to the right of you; you need them to succeed. That's what the whole mission was about today, building that bond that they could come together."

Collins also shared stories from his time serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as his interactions with sharks and alligators during his paddle boarding adventure.

Tweet from @NHLAdamK: Former special ops/Delta force officer Josh Hollands talking to prospects about teamwork and mission

"You always think you have it tough, but somebody always has it way tougher and somebody has a lot harder time," Goulbourne said. "Hearing stories like that, it motivates you to be better and work harder. And when you do feel like you're tired, you're not tired. That guy was tired and he still pushed through. It's very motivating to us." 

The day finished with an autograph signing at Stone Harbor Elementary School and a 4-on-4 beach volleyball tournament featuring teams of two prospects and two fans.

Money raised from the Trial on the Isle activities is being donated to Veteran's Haven, in Winslow Township, N.J. Veteran's Haven provides temporary housing and services for homeless and displaced veterans. 

"Without the work our veterans have done, the ones who serve and continue to serve, we wouldn't be standing here," McCrossin said. "My father was a war vet. Both [my] grandfathers served in World War II. My cousins were in Vietnam, [my] good friend is in SEAL Team Six. … We, the Flyers community, the Philadelphia Flyers, give something back to our boys."

After a tough few days on the ice, the day at the beach was the perfect ending.

"We compete all week, go hard against each other trying to prove ourselves and become better players, and we have a chance to bond a little bit and have fun," said forward Travis Konecny, the 24th pick of the 2015 draft. "It's awesome. It's beautiful down here. We enjoy it. It's like a little vacation from camp."

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