Isaac Ratcliffe, the mammoth left winger selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the 2017 draft, will make his NHL debut Saturday afternoon against the visiting Los Angels Kings.
“I’m pretty excited. I got the call from Lappy yesterday that I was going to be coming up here,” Ratcliffe said after Thursday’s practice, referring to Lehigh Valley Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere. “I’ve been working hard for a long time to get to this opportunity, and I’m just really excited for Saturday. It’s going to be a big day, and I’m going to go out there to prove that I deserve to be out there.”
At practice Thursday, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Ratcliffe was on a big fourth line, along with Connor Bunnaman (6-1, 207) and Zack MacEwen (6-3, 205). Ratcliffe, who turns 23 on Feb. 15, will wear No. 76.
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“I’m just going to bring a big, strong game. I mean, we have to pretty much outmuscle them and try to play in the offensive zone as much as we can and contribute some offense,” Ratcliffe said. “On top of that, it’s obviously going to help us stay out of the defensive zone … We’ve had some success playing that way down in Lehigh, too. Playing strong and sticking to the structure, and hopefully I can bring that up here as well.”
Ratcliffe’s parents, his brothers, and some friends are expected to be at the 1 p.m. game.
“It’s been a long time coming, and to finally have this opportunity, I’m really going to try to take advantage and … and do what I can to make it a day-to-day thing,” he said. “It’s been a long dream.”
With the Phantoms this season, Ratcliffe had four goals and 10 points in 31 games. He has just 12 goals in 106 career games with Lehigh Valley. Ratcliffe scored 50 goals in his last junior season, playing for the Guelph Storm in 2018-19.
The Flyers (13-22-8) will bring a franchise-record 13-game winless streak into Saturday’s matinee against the Kings (22-16-6), who scored a 3-2 win Thursday over the host New York Islanders. Philly has been outscored, 50-26, during its losing streak.
Interim coach Mike Yeo called it a “tough matchup” for Ratcliffe, but an “unbelievable opportunity.”