Lots of ice for young guns

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

Philadelphia Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock loved the John Labatt Centre when he visited a few years ago with the Flyers and his opinion hasn't changed.

"It's just a great junior barn," he said, "and it's in a nice spot in the city centre."

No one has to tell that to London native and Flyers forward Jeff Carter, who was happy to be back in London to chase the puck and visit briefly with his parents and buddies.

The former Soo Greyhounds star and ex-Strathroy Rocket wore an 'A' as assistant captain last night and Hitchcock gave him and pal Mike Richards, a former Kitchener Ranger, a ton of ice time last night.

There was talk Carter, fellow young gun Kyle Calder and Richards would form an early-season trio already dubbed the "CCR line," but there was little of the hoped-for chemistry in the 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

"I don't control any of that," Carter said. "I just go out there and play. It doesn't really matter to me who I'm out there with."

Carter was looking forward to playing against his ex-Soo teammate Tyler Kennedy, who showed a lot of speed and complemented Pens goal-scorer Ryan Stone well on a dangerous forward line.

"When I was in the Soo, I was a little bit younger than Jeff and he was always ahead of me so it's great to be out there against him," said Kennedy, whose OHL career ended last spring at the hands of the Knights in the first round of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh's first pick Jordan Staal, whose chances of cracking the opening night lineup have improved with Evgeni Malkin out with a separated shoulder, missed the chance to play against former Peterborugh Petes mate Steve Downie, who was a late scratch for the Flyers. Staal and Downie combined to help oust the Knights in the OHL final last spring.

On their way into town, the Flyers sent forward Josh Beaulieu back to the Knights yesterday for another season in the OHL.

"He did a good job in camp and he got the chance to compete and learn," Carter said.


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