Eric Wellwood cherishes time in NHL

Eric Wellwood’s return to Philadelphia felt like a homecoming for the Phantom. (Candice Monhollan)

Eric Wellwood’s return to Philadelphia felt like a homecoming for the Phantom. (Candice Monhollan)

There are certain moments in a hockey player’s life they won’t soon forget, whether it’s their first professional game or winning a championship.

For Adirondack Phantoms forward Eric Wellwood, he’ll always remember being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

“When I got drafted to the NHL, I was at Home Depot with my dad,” Wellwood said. “We weren’t really paying close attention to it. When we got home, I saw on the computer that I was drafted by the Flyers and eventually got a call from Paul Holmgren and he welcomed me into the organization.”

Wellwood joined the Phantoms in 2010-11, after spending four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires.

The 22 year old spent the first month of his career in the AHL with the Phantoms, where he tallied three goals and an assist in 11 games.

On Nov. 1, he was able to fulfill a dream by receiving a call-up to the Flyers. He stayed with the team for three games and notched his first NHL point with an assist against the New York Islanders.

Afterward, Wellwood returned to finish the rest of the season with the Phantoms.

“The first time you get sent down, you’re a little heartbroken,” Wellwood said. “You learn to deal with it and you become a little hard, emotionally wise.”

The following year, the Flyers put their faith into the prospect from Windsor, Ont., and, after a brief one-game stint in November, allowed him to play in 23 games from February on.

Wellwood’s next crowning achievement came Feb. 18 in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“My first NHL goal was against the Penguins and against [Marc-Andre] Fleury,” Wellwood said. “I can always say that. I think he is a very good goalie and I’m proud I scored against him.”

It wasn’t his last goal of the season as he scored four more and ended the year with nine points.

Wellwood began the 2012-13 season with the Phantoms due to the NHL lockout, but once it was resolved, he found himself back in the orange and black, but it was short-lived.

He played in just four games with the big club before being returned to the AHL.

With all the time he’s spent with the Flyers, it’s no surprise the familiar skyline of Philadelphia was a comforting sight when the Phantoms returned to play in the Wells Fargo Center Feb. 22.

“As soon as we got here on Wednesday, I felt like I was back home, so to speak,” Wellwood said. “It was nice to play in front of the fans again.”

In hopes of a return to the NHL, Wellwood continues to work hard every day and something he is focusing on to make that happen is the offensive side of his game to become a more all-around player.

The movement up and down between the Flyers and Phantoms over the last couple years has had its difficulties, but it’s something he has come to understand and deal with.

“You have to know what to expect,” Wellwood said. “The path I’m going to take to the NHL is going to be a path like this.”

Through it all, Wellwood has learned that with the uncertainty of call-ups, he has to cherish every day spent in the NHL.

“Every day was surreal,” Wellwood said. “I don’t think I took one day for granted, even if it was just a practice day. It didn’t matter what it was.”

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Categories: AHL, Ice Hockey, Sports

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