Sanheim, Aube-Kubel set to make pro debut Friday

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Travis Sanheim (left) chats between practice drills with Oskar Lindblom (right).
More prospects have arrived to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, as the Philadelphia Flyers' first and second round draft picks from 2014 - defenseman Travis Sanheim and forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel - took part in their first pro practice Wednesday morning at the PPL Center.

"It's good anytime those guys that come in from junior that are going pro next year," head coach Scott Gordon said after practice. "Just to give them the feeling of what the expectations are, the pace of play is like, to come into [next] season prepared for what professional hockey is like."

Gordon confirmed that both Sanheim and Aube-Kubel will make their pro debuts in the Phantoms' next game Friday night in Wilkes-Barre against the rival Penguins. Gordon added that while he hasn't thought past Friday's game, that Sanehim and Aube-Kubel will probably play two out of the three games on Lehigh Valley's schedule this weekend.

Thoughts from Sanheim and Aube-Kubel on a variety of topics - namely turning pro - after the jump.

Both Sanheim and Aube-Kubel will be eligible to turn pro and play with the Phantoms full-time next season. The reason they were able to join the Phantoms at the tail end of this season is because both of their Canadian junior league hockey teams were eliminated in the first round of their respective postseason run.

"It's kind of mixed emotions, but I'm excited to be here and excited to start off my pro career," Sanheim said after practice today. [This opportunity] gives me a chance to kind of set myself up for next year and obviously my goal is to play pro next season, so this extra experience is definitely going to benefit me," he added.

Sanheim, the Flyers' 1st round draft choice (17th overall) in 2014, put up another fine season in the WHL with his second straight 15-goal season from the blue line, finishing with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists) in 52 regular season games, second on the Hitmen only to another Philadelphia Flyers prospect in forward Radel Fazleev (19 goals, 52 assists).

"I think the second half of my season I kind of found my game and where I wanted it to be - playing that strong two-way game," Sanheim explained, adding," obviously I played a key offensive roll with the Hitmen this season. It's going to be a good test for me to play here."

Sanheim continued his strong play in the postseason, leading his team in playoff scoring with six points (one goal, five assists) in five postseason contests before Calgary was eliminated in Game Five last night by the Red Deer Rebels.

"Coming up [short in] playoffs obviously was a disappointment, but I think the high intensity and the series, every game was a battle," Sanheim said. "If I could bring that to this level... just stay competitive and play my game. I think for me, just continuing to build on my season and my game, and that experience it's going to benefit me. Not exactly sure how the next 2 weeks are going to play out but I'm excited for it."

Aube-Kubel also expressed that while it was disappointing to be knocked out of the QMJHL playoffs in the first round, that he's looking forward to the Phantoms' final six games.

"It's good news to come here and have the taste of pro hockey this year before the summer," Aube-Kubel said after practice today. For today, it's just give the maximum effort in practice and fit in with new players."

Aube-Kubel's Val d'Or Foreurs were eliminated by Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Sunday, and three days later he's skating on a line with Danick Martel - a former Armada player last year. The two speedy wingers were centered by Reading, Pa native Steven Swavely.

"I was hitting him when I was playing against him," Aube-Kubel said of Martel with a smile. "Now he's on my team, and he's on my line too so that's good news for me. I know how he plays and that's going to help me for sure."

The Flyers' 2nd round pick (48th overall) in 2014 put up his second straight 38-goal season in the QMJHL with Val d'Or before the team was surprisingly ousted in the first round. He knows that the opportunity to get some pro games in before turning pro full-time in the fall puts him at an advantage.
"The experience," Aube-Kubel referenced as important to him. "I know I was a good player and junior, and for sure I want to leave a good impression here for next year."

Fazleev Update

Sanheim's teammate in Calgary, forward Radel Fazleev, is in town with the Phantoms but did not practice today. Head coach Scott Gordon didn't have an update, other than to say he was getting checked out by doctors and that he hadn't spoken to head athletic trainer Joe Mele to find out whether or not Fazleev would be able to skate in Thursday's practice.

EDIT: Flyers GM Ron Hextall told Sam Carchidi, Flyers beat reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, that forwards Travis Konecny and Radel Fazleev are not going to play with the Phantoms this spring due to their injuries. Hextall also confirmed that newly signed goaltender Alex Lyon will not be reporting to Lehigh Valley this spring.


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