They come from towns like Blackie, Alberta, Carp and Porcupine, Ontario in Canada, from U.S. cities like Orange, California, Smithtown, New York and Pittsburgh,PA from Sweden, Finland, Russia and Slovakia. Most of them were drafted at the age of 18 at the annual June NHL draft. Many played their way up to the AHL in the junior leagues of Canada, the NCAA and minor leagues in the U.S.A. or the elite leagues of Europe. Now in their twenties (barely), they are members of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, proud affiliate of the New York Islanders, and a phone call away from realizing their dream - playing in the NHL.
Long bus rides, small crowds and the dreaded three games in three nights are all part of the package for players in the AHL. Last night the Bridgeport Sound Tigers played against the Norfolk Admirals losing another tough game falling 3-2 in a hard fought comeback attempt from a 2-0 deficit.
So once again it's back on the bus for another long ride to Wilkes-Barre Scranton and a 5 o'clock game against another tough opponent. This time, however, there will be an empty seat on the bus.
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.
(Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr)
Part of the plan for the slow and steady rebuild was to have a talented pool of prospects to develop going forward; some of those prospects would make an impact on the immediate future of the team, while others would eventually follow suit down the line.
Slow and steady.
One of those players that might end up turning into an absolute gem is Anders Lee. Lee was taken in the 6th round by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at 152nd overall. So far in 20 games with Notre Dame, Lee has 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points in 20 games played, placing him second in scoring on the team.
The Islanders, who are boasting the worst offense in the league with only a dismal 59 goals for (the second worst team is the L.A. Kings with 63), were heavily criticized for one specific thing over the past three months; not scoring enough goals. (Shocking, right?)
After being shutout several times this year, the Isles were becoming a one-trick pony; if the line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau wasn't scoring, then there wasn't anything to worry about if you were the opposing team. However, the Isles have been on a recent streak after coming away with points in their past six games played.
Matt Moulson scored the first four-goal game of his NHL career Saturday night against the Dallas Stars; it was also the first individual four-goal game of the 2012 season. As a result, the Islanders were able to hold on for a thrilling 5-4 win.
Although the win is what ultimately matters most for the Islanders, who took seven out of eight possibly points on their four-game road trip, Moulson was the recipient of this week's NHL's First Star honors.
With the Islanders searching for ways to improve their hockey club's anemic offense, the organization called upon David Ullstrom from their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Ullstrom had 14 points in 17 games played with the Sound Tigers and was showing that he was ready for a chance to prove himself at the NHL level.
The 6'3 Swedish forward was drafted by the Islanders in the 4th round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at 102nd overall. He weighs in at 198 pounds and is a versatile hockey player, possessing the ability to either play center or wing, although he is a natural center-man. He also has great speed and was clocked as the team's fastest rookie skater durin...
"When you play this game you need to play with fire, you need to play with passion, you need to play with determination, you need to play with desperation. You need to have ice bags after the game, maybe a little blood dripping right now. When you lace your skates up the guy across from you, the guy on the right, on the left of you need to know that you got their back and we're going to play for one another. And that just didn't happen tonight and I don't have the answers why."
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While the Winnipeg Jets are certainly not tearing up the NHL, their farm team is having a serious go in the AHL.
The newly-established St. John's IceCaps (11-2-3) have taken the AHL by storm in their inaugural season, currently sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference. Actually, they are first place in the entire league.
While veteran Jason King acknowledges they are a "veteran team," the story has been more about the team's depth than anything. Captain Jason Jaffray, who has helped pace the team offensively this season with 12 points in 15 games, was called up to the Jets on Saturd...