Former Union College defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere’s second pro season is going better than his rookie campaign.
Gostisbehere, who helped lead the Dutchmen to the 2014 NCAA hockey title, is up with the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that selected him in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft. He played in two games with them last year, but his first pro season ended Nov. 7 of last year when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a game for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms against the Manchester Monarchs.
Gostisbehere got off to a good start with the Phantoms this season, getting two goals and eight assists in 14 games. He was rewarded Nov. 14, when the Flyers recalled him after veteran defenseman Mark Streit went down with an injury.
On Nov. 14, he collected his first NHL assist against the Carolina Hurricanes. Three days later against the Los Angeles Kings, he scored his first NHL goal. And on Monday night his one-timer 24 seconds into overtime led the Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Gostisbehere took some time to talk to The Daily Gazette about his recall.
Q: Take us through your first NHL goal. What was the feeling like when the puck hit the back of the net?
A: It like a dream coming true. It was kind of a relief, too. Right when I shot it, I thought it was a good shot. Thankfully, it went in. It was a great play by “G” [Flyers captain Claude Giroux] and everyone there standing in front. It was a special moment.
Q: Earlier that day, Giroux was telling you to shoot more. Could you hear him saying that in the back of your mind when you took that shot?
A: I guess you could say that. But I knew what I had to do. They wanted me to shoot the puck.
Q: Were you surprised when the Flyers recalled you?
A: Yeah, it definitely caught me off guard. We just played a game against Rochester. Mr. [Ron] Hextall [the Flyers’ general manager] called me in and said I was going up. I had to pack my bags. I was filled with excitement right away.
Q: Do you think you were more prepared for this call up than last year?
A: Yeah. I knew a little more what to expect this time. I definitely had a little more time under my belt experience-wise. I was ready to go.
Q: What aspect of your game did the Flyers want you to work on?
A: Just play without the puck down low and tops of the circles down. Just having a good stick and reading plays and not getting caught on the wrong side of guys. I just have to clean that area up.
Q: When you suffered the torn ACL last year, what went through your mind?
A: It was a little heartbreaking. In your first pro year and you get hurt like that, it’s tough on the mind and body, of course. It’s how you bounce back. Luckily, I have the support of my teammates, friends and family. It’s not how hard you fall, it’s how hard you get up.
Q: How was the rehab process? Was it the toughest thing you have ever gone through?
A: The rehab itself wasn’t that bad. There were ups and downs. It’s just sticking with it. It’s the same thing almost every day. You have to stay positive and stay mentally sharp and just keep going.
Q: Were you concerned that the injury was going to hurt your development?
A: At first, I thought I was going to lose a year. I got to watch a lot of hockey, and I watched a lot of NHL games and American League games. I realized that it’s an educational year. You can step back and watch games where you haven’t seen them before. I learned a lot from just watching games.
Q: With Mark Streit out for six weeks, how important is it for you to play well and show management and the coaches that you should stay with the Flyers when Streit returns?
A: I’m just trying to play my game right now. I’m just taking it day by day. I know what I’ve got to do. It’s a good opportunity. I just have to seize the moment and have fun doing it.
Q: Cheesesteak choice — Pat’s, Geno’s or Tony Luke’s?
A: Oh geez . . . I’ll have to go with Pat’s.