Trial by Flyer: Annual Stone Harbor Visit Gives Fans a Chance to Meet the Team’s Prospects
By Cara Heenan
Prospects enjoyed a volleyball tournament on Stone Harbor’s beaches.
Young fans had a chance to test out their hockey skills during the hockey clinic.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ 18th annual trip to Stone Harbor for their developmental camp’s Trial on the Isle on June 27 began with an indoctrination of sorts.
Upon the prospects’ arrival, they were treated to a film at the Harbor Square Theatre: a showing of the HBO documentary, “Broad Street Bullies.” There was no better way to explain the ongoing popularity of the franchise to its future torchbearers than to show the story of when the seeds were planted by a rambunctious expansion franchise that became the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champions.
Among those in the audience was Jim Watson, a defenseman who played on those teams with his brother Joe.
Flyers mascot Gritty assists a young fan during the hockey clinic.
“I am very impressed with the young men here today,” said Watson, who was making his first visit to Stone Harbor. “They seem to be very earnest and totally interested in the history of the Flyers.
I talked to them about my experience playing for the Flyers. They are here getting oriented and learning about the history of the team, and I think that’s really beneficial to them as prospects.”
After wrapping up “Broad Street Bullies,” the prospects continued to lunch at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor, where the team presented a $5,000 donation from Flyers Charities to American Legion Post 331. The check was presented by Jim McCrossin, a Stone Harbor resident who is also the team’s athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach.
Representatives from Flyers Charities, Jim McCrossin, and members of American Legion Post 331 pose during the check presentation at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor.
McCrossin and his wife Robyn have coordinated the annual Trial on the Isle with the help of the Stone Harbor Elementary School and the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor, venues that have welcomed the Flyers’ visits.
As for the prospects, the Trial on the Isle event is most of the players’ first time to the Jersey Shore. It allows them to experience the town where so many Flyers fans spend their summers vacationing, and also to get up close and personal with the fan base.
Connor Bunnaman and Isaac Ratcliffe during the autograph session at Stone Harbor Elementary School.
After lunch, McCrossin and center Morgan Frost, defenseman Cam York and right winger Bobby Brink led a hockey clinic for children at the Stone Harbor School. Frost was a first-round draft pick (27th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. York was the Flyers’ first-round pick (14th overall) and Brink was a second-round pick, both in this year’s draft, held just six days before the Trial on the Isle.
The kids were treated not only to a lesson from the pros, but even got to take shots against Gritty, the googly-eyed, 7-foot, furry face of the Flyers. The clinic was followed by an autograph session, where fans were able to meet the prospects.
Gritty tests his goalkeeper skills during a one-on-one with a fan.
The day’s events concluded with the traditional volleyball tournament on the 96th Street beach. There, the prospects broke down into smaller teams and battled in the sand, a little different from doing battle on the ice.
“This week has been a learning experience,” York said. “Being able to play against and with some of the players that are here has been so fun. They’re all really talented and skilled. I’m trying to soak everything in like a sponge and learn as much as I can from the Flyers’ coaching staff. It’s been a blast so far in the rink and today I get to familiarize myself with where fans of the Flyers get to enjoy their summers.”
They especially enjoy the day the Flyers come to town.
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