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Field Journal: Development Camp three-on-three tournament notes

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That’s all she wrote.

Zack Hill / Flyers

That’s all, folks! We’re going to keep talking about it, because we cannot stop talking over here, but the Flyers have officially closed out their development camp for the year. Per tradition, they did so with a three-on-three tournament, giving everyone their first real chance to see these players in the closest thing to a real game situation as they could manage. Team Clarke took the win for the whole tournament and, per our tradition, we have some notes on what and who stood out along the way.

1. The new kids stuck out early

That’s right! As things got rolling we were at the same time wondering who was going to make the first very good impression, and how the most recent draftees would hold up in the actual gameplay (as the ones who we’ve talked about almost ad nauseum as needing to get stronger), and much to our surprise and delight, it wasn’t one player that stuck out, but a handful of our newest kids. Each of Joel Farabee, Jay O’Brien, and Jack St. Ivany flashed in the tournament, each coming out as noticeable impact players for their respective teams. They all picked up at least two goals apiece. O’Brien made an early impact, picking up three goals before we even hit the midpoint of the tournament and making Team Barber look dangerous. Farabee (more on him later) brought some early scoring for Team Clarke when they were struggling to score, and it was St. Ivany who scored the game tying goal in their second game, to send them to the shootout and get them the chance at the win.

So what’s our biggest takeaway here? A three-on-three tournament on one afternoon at a development camp is an admittedly small sample size, and not the end all be all of performance metrics, but all the same, it was nice to see our newest kids keeping pace with the bigger bodies, some of whom already have a bit of pro experience under their belt.

2. It’s a set up!

But, like, in a good way. In this case, at least.

As is the nature with three-on-three, we saw a bit of fluidity with groupings of players sent out together, but one that team Ashbee leaned heavy on was the trio of Morgan Frost, Mikhail Vorobyev, and James de Haas, and for good reason—they were kind of running the show out there.

In their second game they really shined, putting up a handful of shifts in quick near-succession where they were just running through Team Clarke, and notched a handful of goals to go with them. With Frost and Vorobyev being so slippery and mobile through traffic, they were able to get up ice quickly and leave de Haas open to crash the net and reap the benefits of these set ups (he picked up four goals in that game alone). And maybe that’s the product of having two playmaking centers on one “line,” maybe it’s a nod to Frost and Vorobyev’s individual skill (they were getting very fancy with their set ups, a few passes through the legs, things of that nature), or maybe it’s a combination of the two. It’s probably that last one, actually. But, all the same, the playmaking ability that these two flashed was striking and, if nothing else, just a whole lot of fun to watch.

3. The goalies set the game

With a lot of offensive production coming from pretty much all fronts during the tournament, it would be easy to say that the skaters were running the show through the session, but this wouldn’t quite be the end of the story. As the games went on, and we went deeper into the rounds, it became clear that the goalies would be the make of break factors, and when it came down to a Hart vs. Sandstrom final, we knew we were in for quite the match.

It’s hard to pinpoint a clear better performer in this matchup, and both looked very strong. Sandstrom looked particularly dialed in—and he did hold steady enough to get his team the win—but Hart wasn’t lagging far behind. Both teams Barber and Clarke were firing on all cylinders, had shown earlier that they could do some damage offensively, but Hart and Sandstrom shut that down. In a way, it feels a little mean to see them making huge sprawling saves and robbing skaters in front in a scrimmage at camp, but you know what, we’re here for it. In the end, it was a battle of the goalies, and while both looked technically very sound, were more or less on the same level there, Sandstrom was able to bring that little bit extra, and it made all the difference.

4. Isaac Ratcliffe, hello

We’ve talked a fair amount so far about players that came into camp without quite as much buzz surrounding them, and we’re about to talk about one more. Ratcliffe, whether because he wasn’t a fresh face anymore, or because he was seen as something of a project and how much are you really expecting from a project in just their second development camp, fell squarely into that category, but all the same, he had a very solid camp.

Throughout the week, he showed some flashes, looking noticeably more polished than last year, looking stronger and playing stronger, really leaning into his size to outmuscle the guys that he should have been outmuscling all along. But we’re talking about the tournament, here, so we’ll get back to it. This is just to say that he pulled those improved elements into his game play, and really kicked things up a notch. On the championship winning team, he registered four goals—two in the semi-final and championship rounds—helping to keep his team above water against the very good Carter Hart. (Should we reiterate that? He beat Carter Hart twice. Let that sink in a moment).

So to wrap this up—as we’ll most certainly be talking more about Ratcliffe as the week goes on, can’t spoil all the fun here and now—we should take another moment to underscore the polish he brought to his game, keeping pace, keeping physical, and making use of the good skating and soft hands, noting how he brought all of the elements together, and at just the right time. Isaac Ratcliffe. Clutch player. Thank you.

5. Joel Farabee, also hello

Yes, I’m a lady of my word. I said we’d come back to him and now we’re doing it. Let’s talk some more about Joel Farabee.

As we alluded to earlier, Team Clarke came into the first game a little flat, and Team Ashbee ran through them 7-3, and for a bit there we were worried that they might get shut out, they just weren’t able to get much going in terms of pressure. But then it was Farabee with the break, and zipping one top shelf, was able to get his team on the board. He picked up two goals in the championship game, and once again flexed that very quick, very accurate shot. Beyond Sandstrom, Farabee was their highest impact player of the tournament, and gave us a nice little look at his skillset (even more on this later!) and more than a bit to look forward to. Yes, it was effectively a scrimmage at Friends Camp (this is what we’re calling it now thx), but he really brought it. And it was exciting.