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Hostetter earns brief promotion to the Phantoms
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
The fate of Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Tyler Hostetter was tied to that of veteran National Hockey League defenseman Andreas Lilja.
So when the 37-year-old Swedish born Lilja cleared waivers last Thursday, one day after being waived by the Flyers, that meant he was joining the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Phantoms.
The domino effect was that 5-foot-11, 182-pound defenseman Hostetter left the Phantoms, one step below the NHL, and went back to the Trenton Titans of the East Coast Hockey League.
The Lititz native took the move in stride.
"I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully everything falls into place," said Hostetter, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday next Wednesday, Jan. 30.
As the NHL endured a 113-day lockout to begin the season, Hostetter helped to solidify the blue line for the Titans. But then with the lockout in the rear-view mirror and the NHL preparing to drop the puck, the Phantoms announced on Jan. 10 that Hostetter and three of his teammates — forwards Shane Harper, Matt Mangene and Andrew Johnston — were reassigned to Adirondack.
Hostetter, who signed a three-year entry level contract with the Flyers in 2009, practiced with the Phantoms and then traveled with the team for a two-game road trip to play the Binghamton Senators and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and 12.
The Phantoms, with former NHL coach Terry Murray at the helm, are battling for a playoff spot in the Northeast Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
Asked how he liked playing for Murray, Hostetter said, "It was good. I like him. It was more like my junior coach Robbie Ftorek (with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League), like how he practiced and everything. It just seemed like he demanded practice to be good. Without saying it, you could just tell."
After returning with Adirondack from its road trip, he played with the Titans in their 4-3 overtime win over Reading on Wednesday, Jan. 16 and recorded an assist. Hostetter then immediately rejoined the Phantoms after the game, but was reassigned to the Titans the following day when Lilja cleared waivers.
In his brief professional career so far, this wasn’t Hostetter’s first taste of the American Hockey League, as he played in 10 games with the Phantoms over the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He said the biggest difference between playing at that level and with the Titans in the ECHL is the intensity involved with every shift.
"(The speed of the game) is not that much different, to be honest with you," Hostetter said. "I don’t see it like that. The people bear down more, they’re stronger. Every shift is hard and the passing is hard."
Currently, Hostetter has 14 assists and 27 shots on goals in 33 games this year with the Titans. A year ago, he recorded seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 34 games.
But as he works to improve his overall game, Hostetter is paying close attention to his play inside the Titans’ defensive zone.
"I’m an offensive defenseman and I’m trying to focus on my defensive skills," he said, "because I’ve had my offensive abilities since I’ve been playing hockey, so I just figure that if I work on my defense, it’s going to help me out a lot better."
If it helps him get another call-up to the Phantoms, that’s all the better. Having already been promoted once this year, one might think that Hostetter isn’t far away from getting told to pack his bags for Adirondack. For his part, Hostetter is just trying to take care of his own business.
"I don’t know really what their situation is, I don’t really try to think about it," he said. "I just keep working hard and if I get the call up, I get the call up." More HOSTETTER, page B-6