February 09, 2018

Tyrell Goulbourne vows return after hard-hitting Flyers cameo

Flyers NHL
020918_FlyersGoulbourne_USAT Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Flyers winger Tyrell Goulbourne and Devils right wing Stefan Noesen push and shove in front of the net during the second period at Wells Fargo Center.

When Tyrell Goulbourne, the hard-hitting, 24-year-old winger from Edmonton, was up with the Flyers for a brief spell last month, he found out something about himself: He could play in the NHL.

Goulbourne was sent back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last week and vowed to return.

You get the sense the Flyers would love having him back. Listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds, though more likely 5-10, all Goulbourne did was blast opposing players with hard checks, wasn’t afraid to muck it up in the corners and gave a great boost of energy to a team that needed it.

“I’ll be back,” said Goulbourne, who carries the jacked physical structure more for playing across the street at Lincoln Financial Field as a running back for the Eagles than burying guys on the ice playing hockey. “This has been a great experience for me. It’s a different level up here, obviously, and a dream that I got a chance to live.

“Being physical has always been part of my game. I consider myself a physical guy. I’m not as tall as most guys, but I can throw my weight around pretty well, so being physical is part of my game. I like it.”

Goulbourne grew up in Canada playing soccer, then switched over to playing ice hockey and running track. It may explain his physique, which is compact and muscular, a little differently from the typical hockey build, which today is taller and leaner.

“I still have some catching up when it comes to the game because I started hockey I would say later than most,” said Goulbourne, the Flyers’ 2015 third-round pick who has resurrected his career with his tenacious play. “I really didn’t get fully immersed in the game until I was 13 or 14, while most kids playing hockey in Canada would start out playing competitively at around 6 or 7.

“In my time with the Flyers, I’ve learned a lot. For one, it’s positioning. Everyone always seems to be in the right spots. D-men, for example, don’t tend to wander. It’s easier to play with your wingers, because they’re always in the right spots, too. It’s a faster game up here [as opposed to the AHL, where the Phantoms plays]. There’s a lot of tight checking at the NHL level.”

Philadelphia loves players like Goulbourne. On his first-ever shift in the NHL, Goulbourne nailed St. Louis Blues’ 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman Alex Pietrangelo with his second check, setting up a Scott Laughton first-period goal in the Flyers’ 6-3 win.

“A year ago, I was playing in Reading, in the East Coast League, and this year I’m playing in the NHL and going between there and Lehigh Valley,” the rather soft-spoken Goulbourne said. “It’s been a blessing and I’m grateful for how long I was with the Flyers for. I enjoyed my time there and I want to go back.

“This experience has helped me build my confidence. I know now that I can skate with these guys and that’s encouraging for the future.”

You get the sense that Flyers’ fans may be seeing Goulbourne again.