By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Flyers have gotten great production this season from a lot of rookies. While Matt Read and Sean Couturier have grabbed most of the headlines for the first-year group, several others — like forward Harry Zolnierczyk — have helped provide head coach Peter Laviolette with excellent depth this season.
The 24-year-old Zolnierczyk played his 31st game of this rookie season for the Flyers in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Minnesota (see game story). He’s netted three goals thus far — his first came in his NHL debut last October 18th in Ottawa — and says he thinks he has adjusted pretty well to life in the NHL.
“For sure. Still a lot more to learn for myself, and just kind of something you have to work on each day, but it’s been a good transition for my first year pro, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Harry Zolnierczyk in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
And Zolnierczyk says being on a team with so many rookies does help the transition.
“To have that many guys, you know, six or seven guys in the lineup or every day at practice, to have that many guys kind of in the same position as you, it just makes it easier. You’ve got someone to kind of work into this first year with new guys, and it just helps to have guys with you on the same page.”
So what has been the most challenging aspect of the pro game to adjust to?
“I think the speed of the game definitely increases from college to the pro level. And then the games played is a huge factor that everyone talks about. It takes a toll on your body — you’re playing every other night, where in college you’re just gearing up for weekends,” he says.
Zolnierczyk played his college hockey at Brown University, where he scored 30 goals in his four seasons. As a senior he was named the Ivy League Player of the Year following the 2010-2011 campaign.
He signed with the Flyers organization in March 2011.
The Flyers host the New York Islanders on Thursday night.