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Quick Hits: Hathaway, Ersson, Bonk, TIFH

May 26, 2024, 10:11 AM ET [51 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: May 26, 2024

1) On PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, I wrote an article that recaps Garnet Hathaway's 2023-24 season. After signing a two-year contract with Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent, Hathaway settled in quickly with his new team. He brought a pugnacious and agitating presence on the ice and a soft-spoken, cerebral demeanor off the ice.

Hathaway and center Ryan Poehling, linemates for most of the season, spent the first half of the season on the fourth line with Nicolas Deslauriers as their primary left winger (the PHD line). After the All-Star break, Flyers head coach John Tortorella started to use Poehling and Hathaway -- now primarily with Noah Cates on left wing and periodically with Tyson Foerster -- as the third line. By the stretch drive, they were often called upon to skate the first shift of each period and became the de facto second line at five-on-five even when Tortorella shortened the bench and/or juggled other combinations.

For more, click here.

2) IIHF World Championships: Team Switzerland will play host nation Czechia on Sunday for the gold medal at the 2024 Worlds. Team Canada will play Team Sweden for the bronze.

On Saturday in Prague, the Czechs knocked off previously undefeated Sweden by a 7-3 score after the Swedes held a 2-1 lead in the opening period. Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson (two goals allowed on six shots) saw mop-up duty in net after starting netminder Filip Gustavsson (five goals against on 17 shots) was pulled from the game.

In Saturday's other semifinal game, Canada fell 3-2 (2-1) via shootout to Switzerland. Sven Andrighetto notched the winning tally in the skills competition after Connor Bedard and Kevin Fiala traded off successful attempts. In regulation, Fiala and Nino Neiderreiter built a 2-0 lead for the Swiss before Brandon Tanev and John Taveres answered to force overtime. The 10-minute sudden death frame was scoreless, setting up a shootout scenario with a trip to the gold medal game at stake.

3) 2024 Memorial Cup: Flyers defense prospect Oliver Bonk notched one goal and one assist as the Ontario Hocke League champion London Knights shut out the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League champion Drummondville Voltigeurs, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon. Bonk, who played a strong all-around games, took First-Star honors and was plus-three on the day.

With London leading in the first period, 1-0, Bonk got open in the left slot to one-time a Jacob Julien pass into the net at 13:51. The score remained 2-0 until the third period, when London added a pair of early goals to put a stranglehold on the game. Bonk assisted on a Kasper Haltunen tally. Ruslan Gazizov scored two goals for London in the game.

Bonk's teammate and fellow Flyers prospect Denver Barkey did not get on the scoresheet in this game, as both he and Easton Cowan (OHL playoff MVP) were held without a point. Barkey was a plus-one on the day as he was on the ice for Gazizov's second goal (tallied on the opening shift of the final period).

In a losing cause for Drummondville, Flyers prospect Alexis Gendron had a game-high seven shots on goal. He also played a rather feisty game for a player known much more for his skill and finesse.

Trying to set a competitive tone for his team, Gendron mixed it up with London's Sam O'Reilly on the game's second shift. Both players were dispatched for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. No scoring resulted during the ensuing four-on-four.

Drummondville (0-1-0) is back in action on Sunday when they play the tournament hosting Saginaw Spirit (1-0-0) of the OHL. On Monday, London (1-0-0) takes on the Western Hockey League champion Moose Jaw Warriors (1-0-0).

4) Today in Flyers History: May 26

1987: The Flyers send the Stanley Cup Final back to Philadelphia as they capture a comeback 4-3 road win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5. The Flyers trail by scores of 2-0 (first period) and 3-1 (second period) before rallying to send the game to the third period knotted at 3-3.

A line of Brian Propp (four assists), Pelle Eklund (power play goal, two assists) and Rick Tocchet (two goals, one assist) steps up huge for the Flyers and figures in all four Philadelphia goals. Set up by Propp and Eklund, defenseman Doug Crossman cuts the gap to 3-2 in the second period before Eklund ties it. Tocchet nets the game-winning goal at 5:26 of the third period.

The two teams combine for 69 shots on goal. Eventually, Ron Hextall (31 saves on 34 shots) outduels Grant Fuhr (31 saves on 35 shots). The Flyers contained Wayne Gretzky (one assist. four shots on goal), Mark Messier (no points, five shots on goal) and Paul Coffey (no points, two shots on goal) sufficiently on this night to give themselves a chance to win. In a losing cause, Jari Kurri scores the game's first goal and rugged defenseman Marty McSorely scores twice.

1995: The Flyers finish off a sweep of the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers with a 4-1 win at Madison Garden to wrap up the Eastern Conference semifinals in four games. Defenseman Karl Dykhuis plays one of the best all-around games of his NHL career, including two goals. Legion of Doom right winger Mikael Renberg builds a 3-0 lead in the second period before trade deadline acquisition Anatoli Semenov makes it 4-0 at 14:22.

Ron Hextall turns aside 31 of 32 shots. New York Rangers head Colin Campbell's gamble to start backup goalie Glenn Healey over No.1 goalie Mike Richter backfired on this night, as Healey was ineffective in net.

2000: In one of the most heartbreaking outcomes in Flyers' history, the Flyers drop Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final series against the New Jersey Devils in a 2-1 home loss. Patrik Elias' goal at 17:28 of the third period -- his second tally of the game -- proves to be the difference. Veteran Rick Tocchet's power play goal in the second period is the lone puck that gets past Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur (26 saves on 27 shots).

The game caps a Devils comeback from a three games to one deficit in the series. It's also the final game of Eric Lindros' career as a Flyer. After missing the latter stretch drive and the duration of the playoffs until Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, Lindros is knocked unconscious in the first period of Game 7 by an open ice hit from longtive rival Scott Stevens. The concussion-afflicted Lindros has to be helped off the ice. After sitting out the entire 2000-01 season amid a dispute with Flyers management, Lindros is eventually traded to the New York Rangers the next summer.

Before the Flyers' well ran dry in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Final, it had been a magical playoff run. Rookie goaltender Brian Boucher had an outstanding playoff run after unseating veteran John Vanbiesbrouck for the No. 1 job. Assistant coach Craig Ramsay stepped into the head coaching role after Roger Neilson was diagnosed with cancer and (very reluctantly) was unable to return during the playoffs.

Through it all, a very close-knit Flyers team seemed to handle any adversity thrown at them. This was the year of John LeClair's goal through the outside of the net in the first round series against the Buffalo Sabres, a comeback from losing Games 1 and 2 at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, a five-overtime win in Pittsburgh in Game 4, and ongoing controversies and dramas involving Lindros (concussion-related absences, having the captaincy removed and bestowed upon Eric Desjardins, constant questions about when/if he'd return in the playoffs, the devastating injury in Game 7 against New Jersey).

Despite all the trials and tribulations, the Flyers find themselves one period from a trip back to the Stanley Cup Final in a game clearly destined to be a 2-1 final. Philly holds the Devils to just four shots over the game's final 20 minutes. Unfortunately for the Flyers, it all goes for naught.

5) May 26 Flyers Alumni birthday: P.J. Stock (1975).

6) In memoriam: Peter Zezel (April 22, 1965 – May 26, 2009)

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