PHILADELPHIA – In June 2016, the Flyers selected 17-year-old goalie Carter Hart with the 48th overall pick, making him the first goaltender selected. On Tuesday, Hart, now 20-years-old, not only made his highly anticipated NHL debut, but he also picked up his first NHL win in a 3-2 win over the Red Wings.
Hart finished the game with 20 saves on 22 shots. He didn’t allow his first NHL goal until 4 minutes and 12 seconds into the second period, when defenceman Dennis Cholowski scored on a Detroit power play.
“I’ve always wanted to be an NHL hockey player since I was 4 years old,” Hart said prior to the game. “When I got the call I was really excited and shaking with enthusiasm a little bit.”
The rookie goaltender took the Wells Fargo Center ice for the very first time with both of his parents in attendance. Hart is a native of Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada, which is just over 2,000 miles from Philly.
Hart, who prior to Tuesday had been playing for the Flyers AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, did not arrive in Philly alone. In fact, he brought his coach with him, as Scott Gordon, who had been coaching the Phantoms since the beginning of 2015-2016 season, was named as the Flyers interim head coach on Monday following the firing of Dave Hakstol.
Gordon said after Tuesday’s game that one of the first calls he got after receiving the job was from Hakstol, who called to tell him what a great group of players he was getting.
When Gordon tried to arrive at the Flyers skate zone in Voorhees, NJ for practice on Monday, he accidentally took a bit of a detour. The newly hired head coach was so focussed on conversations on the phone with his new players, that he didn’t realize he entered the Flyers skate zone in Atlantic City on his GPS.
“I didn’t even notice until I looked up and saw a casino,” Gordon said.
Gordon arrived on Tuesday night poised to be the head coach of an NHL team for the first time in over eight years. The 55-year-old previously served as the Islanders head coach from the start of the 2008 season until November 2010.
“I actually didn’t think about it,” Gordon said when asked about coaching his first NHL game in eight years. “I don’t know why, maybe because there’s been so much going on.”
James van Riemsdyk opened up the scoring with a goal in the 19th minute of the first period. The 29-year-old left winger tipped in his fourth goal of the season on a shot from Claude Giroux, giving the Flyers a 1-0 advantage.
From that point, the Flyers were led by their defenseman, getting goals from Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere in the 9th and 16 minutes of the second period respectively, giving the them a lead that would prove to be enough.
“I think tonight was a big relief for everybody,” Gordon said. “The record over this last little stretch has been frustrating.”
With the win, the Flyers moved out of last place in the metropolitan division, sliding past the Devils who lost 7-2 to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Up next for the orange and black are the Nashville Predators, whose 46 points tied them for the lead in the Western Conference entering play on Tuesday.
“It felt good to get this win and to get a feel for some of the guys I haven’t coached before in Lehigh Valley,” Gordon said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to coach this group.”