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Luck in Twos: How two 23-year-olds made last night’s loss a bit bearable

Both Noah Cates and Ronnie Attard tallied points for the first time in the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers are 3-7 in their last ten games, and while they may have dropped yet another contest this season to a divisional opponent (not that it matters at this point, being eliminated from post-season contention) One thing the slipping and sliding down towards the bottom of the NHL standings has led to is the organization looking long and hard at its young talent in actual NHL games.

The Flyers have made it a point recently to get a few entry level contracts inked, and give a fair few prospects time in the big show to see how well they can hold up. On Tuesday, it was fair to say that two youngsters in particular proved they can hold their own in the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Noah Cates joined his brother Jackson (who has already played 15 games with the Flyers over this and last season) in the NHL on March 29th against Minnesota, coincidentally where the Cates’ are from. Noah joined the Flyers with a fair amount of hype surrounding him. He was a closely watched prospect by us at Broad Street Hockey, and after representing the United States at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, he finished up a very good collegiate career at Minnesota Duluth (99 points in 139 games) and signed his ELC with the Flyers.

It was safe to say that yesterday’s game was Cates’ best in the NHL in his very short career. His first goal in the league came in the first period with nearly two minutes remaining, where after receiving the puck in the mid-slot after some hard work from Patrick Brown, Cates beat Elvis Merzlikins with a hard shot to the blocker side right were the goalie wasn’t.

Apart from the goal, Cates was individually able to make a positive impact when he was on the ice, regardless of who with. Against Columbus, with Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton, his line posted an Expected Goals-For% of 62.43. Despite this, Cates scored while lines were jumbled as he was playing alongside Patrick Brown and Nate Thompson when the goal was scored (all fairness in the world to Brown who made a great play to get Cates the puck).

Cates’ individual CF% also ranked in at 52.17%, which while below other forwards (such as the aforementioned Thompson and Brown who had great games in their somewhat limited ice-time) is still impressive given the Flyers’ struggles.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, defenseman Ronnie Attard, playing in his third NHL game, registered an assist on James van Riemsdyk’s goal in the second period, with his booming slapshot from the right-hand side of the blue-line being tipped in front of the net by van Riemsdyk.

Attard, who we knew as a dangerous goal-scoring defenseman during his time in the USHL before he was drafted (he scored 30 goals in the 2018-19 season!), certainly saw his point production humbled at the collegiate level. This was to be expected against the tougher competition, and by the time his college career was over, he was nearly a point-per-game player.

He was a bit of a wild card when drafted, but as we’ve written, he’s slowly but surely improved his game and he’s looked quite good in the NHL as a result.

He didn’t register too many minutes at 5-on-5 in last night’s contest (11:19, 14:51 overall), but this can be expected early in his career in the midst of a meaningless season.

However, that “meaningless” season has been given new hope with the emergence of these prospects getting time in the NHL. Obviously, not all of these guys will become world-beaters, but it gives the front office, as well as fans, reason to believe that it won’t be much longer until they’re well known names all over the city.

Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick