Union’s Gostisbehere finds himself the center of the Philly attention

PHILADELPHIA — Whether it’s being welcomed to the city by a band or facing the increased media scrutiny, there are plenty of potential non-hockey distractions during the Frozen Four.

Union coach Rick Bennett frequently refers to it as the “racket,” and there’s a good chance one of his own players will have to deal with more of it than anyone else this week.

Junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a third-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012, and like former Yale forward and Pittsburgh native Jesse Root last year, he’s an obvious story line headed into the Frozen Four.

But the no-nonsense Bennett might have summed it up best when asked about Gostisbehere and his Flyers connection during last week’s media conference.

“Shayne Gostisbehere plays for Union College; Shayne Gostisbehere doesn’t play for the Philadelphia Flyers,” Bennett said. “So it won’t be a big issue.”

Judging by his demeanor Wednesday, Gostisbehere seemed to embody his coaches’ words.

“We go out there and put our heart on the line,” he said when asked about the difference between college and professional hockey. “College hockey is a dynamic game. Guys are blocking shots that you probably wouldn’t see in pro and doing anything for their team just to raise a piece of wood at the end of the year.”

While some players regress once they’re drafted, that hasn’t been the case with Gostisbehere, who’s worked to improve his defense since coming to Union.

“I think the fact that Shayne got better through the middle of the year his freshman year in areas of his game where he really decided that this defensive thing is really going to help me here,” Bennett said. ”This is what we talked about in the recruiting trip. This is what he wanted to get better at. The offensive stuff, I’m not teaching him.”

For Gostisbehere, Thursday’s game will be the first time he’ll play a game at his potential future team’s home rink.

“I’ve never skated here until an hour ago,” Gostisbehere said. “But I did have a Geno’s cheesesteak last night, so that was pretty good. Other than that, I haven’t seen Philly too much. I came here for a tournament when I was, I think 9 years old, but I don’t remember it that much.”