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Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Cates Brothers Looking to Take NHL By Storm

Cates Brothers Looking to Take NHL By Storm

PHILADELPHIA – The preseason is officially underway for the Philadelphia Flyers under new head coach John Tortorella, and the situation in the City of Brotherly Love is unique this season for the Orange and Black. After doubling down on the current roster with only a few tweaks aside from the man behind the bench, general manager Chuck Fletcher has left plenty of room for a few of the organization’s young guns to take the reins and become key players when the season gets underway. With top center Sean Couturier sidelined for the immediate future with more back issues, the path is clear for not just one player but rather a duo to make that impact: enter Noah and Jackson Cates.

The Cates brothers have been a dynamic duo for the Flyers in their preseason tilt and the prospect showcase at PPL Center in Allentown, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The pair will look to etch their names in Flyers history like legendary brothers Jimmy and Joe Watson, who carved their names on the Stanley Cup in the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies and had the chemistry of the Mario Bros. in terms of their ability on the ice. Unlike Nintendo’s famous duo, there is no defined player one and two, as the pair have contributed equally on the ice this preseason after briefly skating with the Flyers a season ago. Both players tallied their first goals in the campaign and directly impacted the team’s first preseason game at Wells Fargo Center, where each player scored en route to a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins.

The pair have been on the same line for much of the preseason to this point, helping the Flyers to a pair of wins in the showcase in Allentown over the New York Rangers and look to seriously compete to get on the organization’s radar with as much open space as the team has in its lineup. Tortorella has expressed an interest in getting the younger players into the lineup now, which underscores the value of having a solid preseason performance. It’s a huge hill to climb between Tortorella’s intense conditioning practices, with players visibly gassed in practice photos in the first week of camp, but it seemed no issue for the Cates brothers.

Naturally, if the Flyers do not elect to dress one or both of the Cates to start the season, they’ll be a considerable addition to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Lehigh Valley as the Phantoms look to bounce back from finishing last in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia’s difficult season impacted the team in Allentown tremendously, forcing them to rely on their minor league talent and even cost the Phantoms their top scorer in veteran forward Gerry Mayhew, who was lost on waivers after an extended stint in Philly and ultimately did not return to the organization. Of the pair, only Jackson played at the AHL level last season, tallying two goals and eight assists over 37 games, but combined should be a huge difference-maker should both players b  assigned to the Phantoms at any time.

The Flyers have many prospects looking to break into their ranks this season, and spots are by no means guaranteed. Among them, tenured prospects like Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe will be looking to assert themselves alongside Wade Allison, who similarly has had enough success in the NHL that he’s looking to parlay into a roster spot. These prospects have shown their potential at different points recently. They will get looks alongside veteran camp invitees Artem Anisimov and Antoine Roussel, looking to earn contracts to fill out Philly’s roster. Frost seems to be a lock to be on the Flyers’ opening night roster after performing well and having a slick assist on Noah’s goal in the preseason opener. Although the losses and issues the Flyers have had are adding up, it may lead to these prospects getting serious chances to turn something positive from the situation and turn heads in the NHL this season.

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