Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.
In this week's report, we highlight a sophomore goalie prospect's first collegiate start, another collegiate prospect who's come down to earth and much more. Let's dig in.
Matej Tomek, G, 6-3/183, North Dakota (NCAA)
Tomek hoped his World Junior Championships performance "would make a difference a little bit up there in North Dakota." Still, he needed something to break his way, and last Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the sophomore goaltender received that break.
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Fighting Hawks goalie Cam Johnson saw his streak of 55 consecutive starts - tied for a school record - come to an end Friday because of a lower-body injury, and UND head coach Brad Berry decided to reward Tomek his first collegiate start against the Tigers over senior Matt Hryniw.
The 19-year-old, however, did not last long in net. Tomek surrendered two goals on six shots in the first period, as No. 12 North Dakota fell behind Colorado College, 2-0. Both goals Tomek yielded were not of the strongest variety. The first did come after a propitious CC bounce, a bit of more bad luck for Tomek. The second, however, was a long slap shot from the left circle he appeared unprepared for from Alex Berardinelli.
Berry opted to make a goaltender change after the first intermission, going with Hryniw, who turned away all 15 shots he faced, and UND battled back to beat the Tigers, 5-2. Berry explained the decision as "you have to try to do whatever you can to get a win."
"It was a situation - it wasn't the sharpest period he's had, but he hasn't played a lot of hockey," Berry told the AP, via the Bismarck Tribune. "Putting thoughts and feelings aside, it's a team-first game. We put Hrynkiw in and it seemed to give us a bump."
For Tomek, it is unclear if he will get a chance at redemption this season. North Dakota's top priority is wins, as it's attempting to defend its national championship. It will depend on Johnson's health going forward if Tomek gets a shot at starting again. Friday night was his second collegiate appearance, as the Slovakian netminder came in relief of Johnson on Jan. 13, a game then-No. 7 UND lost, 6-3, to Miami. He allowed two goals on five shots in relief then, and now has surrendered four goals on 13 shots in two career games.
Tanner Laczynski, C, 6-1/191, Ohio State (NCAA)
After missing No. 8 Ohio State's weekend set with then-No. 1 Penn State two weeks ago because of an illness, Laczynski returned to the Buckeyes' lineup this past week against Wisconsin and was largely ineffective, as the Badgers swept Ohio State.
Laczynski returned Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, a 3-1 Badgers victory. The freshman, who had been the Buckeyes' points leader before leaving for the world juniors, centered the fourth line and finished with two shots on goal and a minus-1. As part of Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden, he again was on the fourth line in the OSU's 3-2 overtime loss to Wisconsin. He had two shots on goal and was a plus-1.
Since returning from the world juniors, Laczynski has just one assist in four games, and is pointless in his last three games. He's still averaging 1.21 points through the start of his NCAA career, but this is his first multi-game pointless stretch in 19 games.
Mikhail Vorobyov, C, 6-2/207, Salavat Yulaev (KHL)
One KHL prospect, German Rubtsov, has already made his way over to North America, could another one be on his way too? It's possible, but not until next season.
Vorobyov told Sport Express last week that he will not make a decision on whether to make the jump overseas until this summer after speculation suggested he was could come over when his contract with Salavat Yulaev expires at the end of this season.
Via Sons of Penn, Vorobyov will be a restricted free agent once the KHL ends. Salavat Yulaev general manager Leonid Vaisfeld hinted to TACC that Ufa would extend a qualifying offer to him, but the center "has an agent and his own head on his shoulders."
It's nothing concrete and remains speculation forecasting what could happen next season, but Vorobyov had an extremely impressive showing for Russia at the world juniors. As was the case with Rubtsov, bringing him over could be best for the Flyers. Stay tuned.
German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
Speaking of Rubtsov, the move to Chicoutimi has paid dividends for the center thus far. He continued to show why the Flyers were so high on him in last June's draft in both of the Saguenéens games last week. Rubtsov picked up an assist in a modest effort in Chicoutimi's 3-2 shootout loss to Shawinigan on Friday, but had an impressive multi-point performance a 4-0 win over Gatineau on Sunday. Rubtsov recorded a power-play marker, which was the game-winner, and picked up another assist. He was named the game's first star, and increased his point total to eight in five games in the Q.
• Phantoms defenseman Travis Sanheim registered three assists in three games last week, scooping up two helpers in Lehigh Valley's 3-2 loss to Bridgeport on Saturday.
• Anthony Stolarz returned last week after missing a couple of games with a lower-body injury. The goalie stopped 41 of 43 shots in the Phantoms' 7-2 win over Binghamton on Wednesday, and yielded three goals on 21 shots Saturday.
• With Stolarz healthy, Alex Lyon made just one start last week, but he was excellent in a 2-1 win over Binghamton on Friday. Lyon allowed just one goal in 42 shots in the win.
• Brynäs winger Oskar Lindblom had a huge game last Thursday, registering two markers and an assist in a 4-2 win over Frolunda. Lindblom's 34 points lead Brynäs, and puts him third in the SHL as a 20-year-old.
• Felix Sandstrom yielded three goals on 23 shots in Brynäs IF's 4-2 loss to Malmo Saturday. He's now 9-5-2 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.
• Everett goalie Carter Hart lost both of his starts last week, surrendering six goals on 59 shots. He did not start Sunday night, but did come in relief of Mario Petit, stopping 10 of 11 shots in the Silvertips' 5-1 loss to Kamloops.
• Connor Bunnaman had a goal and an assist in Kitchener's 5-4 shootout win over North Bay on Friday, and added two goals Sunday in a 6-4 loss to Owen Sound. He now has 26 goals in 44 games.
• Sarnia's Anthony Salinitri added another multi-point game last week - a goal and an assist in the Sting's 6-1 win over Flint. It was his second straight multi-point game.
• Clarkson defenseman Terrance Amorosa recorded two assists in the Golden Knights' 6-2 loss to No. 5 Union on Friday night. He was pointless Saturday against Rensselaer.
• Harvard goalie Merrick Madsen backstopped the No. 9-ranked Crimson to wins over No. 14 Cornell and Colgate. Madsen made 43 saves on 45 shots last weekend.
• Wade Allison had an assist in both weekend games for No. 10 Western Michigan, which split its weekend series with Miami. The freshman has 19 points in 24 games.
• Bowling Green junior defenseman Mark Friedman added seventh goal of the season in a 3-2 win over Ferris State on Friday. The Falcons split their series with the Bulldogs.