Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cousins and Alderson 4/4

There has been no official announcement from the Philadelphia Flyers or Adirondack Phantoms – though that should come as no surprise, given yesterday’s debacle – but all signs point to Nick Cousins joining the Phantoms in the coming days. Regarded by some as the Flyers’ top prospect, the third-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft sent out some Tweets after the criminal sexual assault case against him and two former teammates was reportedly dropped Thursday morning in court.

The Sault Star reported that prosecutors withdrew the charges against Cousins, Phoenix Coyotes prospect Andrew Fritsch and Mark Petaccio due to “no reasonable prospect of conviction.” The three players had been arrested in August in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a woman they knew, but the charges were dropped after prosecutors reviewed evidence, the Sault Star reported.

“Wow ! Tough 8 months for myself and my family. Glad to say that it is finally over ! Would like to thank my family, friends, billets and Obviously the Soo Greyhounds organization for the support along the way. As well as my lawyer Bruce Wilson . I will never forget my Time in Sault Ste Marie. Best hockey town to be apart of. Now off to Adirondack to join the Phantoms !!!” Cousins tweeted.

Earlier Thursday, Phantoms coach Terry Murray reiterated that he hadn’t heard Cousins’ name mentioned in amateur try-out conversations in about three weeks. But it is pretty clear that Cousins plans on coming here to Adirondack, and he is one of the more interesting talents the Flyers have in the organization. He had 103 points in 64 Ontario Hockey League games this season, which was good for third in the league’s scoring race, but he also has a bit of rat in his game. Dustin Leed of The Hockey Guys did a great profile on him last summer, which you can read here.

He was line and roommates with the newest Adirondack Phantoms forward, Brandon Alderson, with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season. If and when he comes, you wonder if Murray would try to see if they can some of that chemistry at the professional level with the Phantoms.

Speaking of Alderson, I had the chance to catch up with him after practice today. He would have been in town sooner, but the Flyers forgot to send him his Visa so he got turned away at the airport. Then his flight got delayed Wednesday morning, so he did not arrive until after practice. And to make matters worse, the two hockey sticks that he packed got broken on the flight. So he practiced with Derek Mathers’ spares and could very well play with them until he gets his own.

Alderson said four teams expressed serious interest in him after he put up 64 points in 67 games during his overage season, but he chose Philadelphia because it was the best place where he could develop as a player. He is 6-foot-4, and the Flyers have no other forward that size on their NHL or AHL rosters. He hopes to fit the role of a Jake Voracek or a Wayne Simmonds, a big winger who can go to the net and put up some points. However, he thinks he projects as more of a defensive forward.

“I think (Philadelphia) liked my size and my skating,” Alderson said. “I have to get in on the forecheck and create turnover and things like that. … I played a lot of penalty kill for the Soo. I think that would probably fit my role there. Someone that could still contribute, maybe a third or second line kind of guy would be what I would hope to be.”

He spent Thursday’s practice on the third line with Shane Harper and Rob Bordson, and Murray said that Alderson will make his professional debut Friday at home against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Alderson said. “I don’t think it’s set in yet. Probably sometime tonight when I sit down and actually know that I’m playing tomorrow. … Once the time comes tomorrow, there will be a little bit of nerves. Hopefully after a couple shifts, the excitement will take over and I’ll just get there and play my game.”

Cal Heeter also had himself a bit of a whirlwind day.

The rookie got a call about 2:30 p.m. yesterday telling him that he was getting called up to the NHL to back up Ilya Bryzgalov before newly acquired goalie Steve Mason arrived. Less than 20 minutes later, he put on a suit, had his overnight and hockey bags packed and he was in a car to Philadelphia.

They hit traffic, so he got to Wells Fargo Center in time just in time for the  anthems. He didn’t have the chance to face any shooters in warm-ups or anything like that, but he’s not complaining about that. It was the first time he wore an NHL jersey, and he had the best seat in the house for the game.

“The buzz in the arena was a lot greater with the fans,” Heeter said. “They were a lot more vocal. It was a lot of fun. You look at the game, it was an entirely different game compared to the AHL.”

Heeter got back to Glens Falls at about 4:15 a.m, then was on the ice for practice at 10:30 a.m.

Be sure to read tomorrow’s paper. Had a pretty candid conversation with Brandon Manning about being dead last in the AHL with a -29 plus-minus rating. We went into possible explanations for that, and he admitted that he is not having as good a season as he would hope to be. He is a restricted free agent at the end of the year, so these last nine games of the season are his final shot to turn things around and leave a lasting impression with Philadelphia Flyers’ management.

“I’m pretty comfortable with not letting those things affect me, but I’m probably leading the league. It’s head and heels above other guys. It’s tough to swallow sometimes, but it’s something for me to look back on this summer and give myself motivation and prove to the coaches that I’m not that player,” Manning said. “Down the stretch here, if I could put nine games together and climb out of it a little bit and do some good things, it leaves a good impression in everyone’s mind.”

Much more in the paper.

Until next time,


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