Forced into a National Hockey League bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elkhorn product Travis Sanheim made the best of it – and turned heads.
Sequestered in the NHL’s Toronto bubble, the son of Kent and Shelly Sanheim helped the Philadelphia Flyers make it to the second round of the playoffs. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound defencemanhad a goal and recorded six assists in 16 games. Flyers observer Walt Gebelein of the Broad Street Buzz wrote that:
“Through the play-in round and the first round against the Montreal Canadiens, it could be argued that Sanheim was the team’s best defencemen. He was able to control play and defuse dangerous plays in his own end.”
In a round robin to determine its playoff seeding, Philadelphia went undefeated in three games to clinch the first seed. The Flyers ousted Montreal, in five games, in the first round to win their first series since the 2011-2012 campaign. In the second round, the Philly squad fell in seven to the New York Islanders.
“We were going in playing well and we were playing well in the round robin and into the first round,” Sanheim said. “Obviously, we came up short in game seven against the Islanders. Overall, it was a good experience. Definitely can learn from it.”
It was certainly an NHL playoff experience like no other. Many players were away from family, significant others and friends for an extended period of time.
“Maybe you are on the road for a week or 10 days of whatever it is when you go out west,” Sanheim said of the NHL regular season. “To be away from them for a month or longer obviously is difficult, but you try to stay in touch – FaceTime – as much as you can. We’re lucky in today’s age that technology is such an advantage for us. We can use it and you feel you’re face-to-face with your family and friends.”
The third-year Flyer praised the league for what they did to make the experience enjoyable.
“I think the NHL did a great job in providing us with enough stuff to keep us busy,” he said. “The amenities were great. We were able to hang out with the guys 24/7. I had a lot of fun in there.”
Sanheim appreciated the opportunity to build camaraderie and connection with his fellow Flyers.
“You get to know your teammates actually a little bit better than maybe you would have else wise because you do see them every day. It was a cool experience for me. It is something you’ll probably never get to do again.”
While waiting to hear when he will be able to return to the Flyers, Sanheim has been based in Brandon. It has allowed him to return home to visit friends and family in the Elkhorn area. As well, when restrictions allow it, he has been hitting the ice in the Wheat City and working with a skills coach in preparation for his fourth NHL season.