Puck drop on Long Island, where the Isles were facing the Winnipeg Jets, was followed shortly thereafter in Worcester, Mass. when the same ritual was performed to start the Sound Tigers vs. Sharks contest. Isles fans would get to see Anders Lee play his first game as a professional (historic in that it marked the first time all members of an Isles draft class, 2009, ‘made it’) while Sound Tigers fans would watch top prospect Ryan Strome (2011) make his pro debut. Neither would disappoint.
What began as a normal weekend for Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter, turned into one of the strangest in recent memory for the team. Niederreiter made is usual call to Pete’s Deli & News for a ‘to-go’ order on his way to the arena for the Sound Tigers morning skate before the team left for Providence for the first of three games in three days.
The game in Providence started like any other before getting out of hand with the Bruins scoring the opener after two minutes of play and Matt Donovan answering four minutes later with his eighth of the season. With two minutes and thirty seconds left in the opening period, Matt Watkins was given the whistle on a very questionable hooking call, and the game changed.
Several posts yesterday surfaced from from ESPN’s Katie Strang and other respected reporters that Islanders top prospect Nino Niederreiter had asked to be traded. Featured writer Rob McGowan of The Checking Line – Isles Edition offered a well-written account that sheds light on the rumors and misinformation that was being reported. (Dave Csorda captures one of Nino's many celebrations in this photo.)
As a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Booster Club (BSTBC) I attended the annual ‘BSTBC Snowflake Dinner’ on Tuesday evening and advised my editor, McGowan that I would ask Nino about the reports that were appearing online. Held this January at The Riverview Bistro, the ‘Snowflake Dinner’ is a very casual opportunity for the fans to get to know and interact with the players on a more personal level, not a night for interviews.
However, given the fact that these reports were nearly as important as news about Subway's eleven-inch foot-long, I asked Nino if the reports were true.
When the Bridgeport Sound Tigers left home for this seasons first three-in-three, 3 games in 3 nights, last Friday the weather forecast was front-page news. Hurricane Sandy was heading for the New York City metro area and was promising to be the most recent ‘Storm Of The Century’.
Alternately called ‘The Perfect Storm’ or ‘Frankenmonster’ by the media, it was obvious that Sandy would wreak havoc along the Milford beaches where many of the Sound Tigers take residence during the hockey season.
Rather than change hotels each night for a Worcester-Springfield-Worcester series, the team checked into a hotel in Springfield for three nights, opting to bus the 50 miles between venues. Three nights became five nights of concern for the players, few of which have ever seen a hurricane.
Before the first puck was dropped this year there were a few questions about the Bridgeport Sound Tigers chances of repeating as division champions. The biggest question being, who is going to do the scoring?
Of the top thirteen scoring forwards from last season only David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas returned. Free agents Brandon DeFazio and Colin McDonald, acquired from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penquins, and Matt Watkins from the Portland Pirates will provide a solid veteran presence that can be counted on to put up some big numbers, but what about the kids?
There is less than 12 hours until the third lockout begins under Commissioner Gary Bettman's watch. The last occurred back in 2004, canceling the 2004-2005 season and resulted in a new salary cap system. However, that system has been failing the smaller market teams, forcing them to keep up with the other clubs who earn more revenue and can afford higher salaries.
The owners and the NHLPA are fine with a salary cap system; they are not trying to reinvent the wheel all over again. But both sides are trying to structure an agreement on how the revenue is shared between the owners and players.
In recent discussions, several different proposals have been thrown on the table but none have come close to settling the disagreement. Bettman has been prepared to lockout his players if a new deal is not reached by the end of today. Although each side is likely to meet with each other before the day is over, it seems very unlikely that an 11th hour deal will be made.
On March 16, 2007, his second season with the Oshawa Generals, Tavares scored his 70th and 71st goals of the season, breaking Wayne Gretsky’s OHL record for the most goals scored by a 16 year-old. He won the CHL’s player of the year award that year and returned to ‘The Dungeon’ for more work along side one of his best friends and newest New York Islander, Brandon DeFazio.
It is rare when a player stays for more than three seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team exists for one purpose and one purpose only … develop talent for their NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders.
Each September, a half-dozen or so twenty-year olds arrive in Bridgeport to begin their careers as professional hockey players against bigger, faster, stronger competition.
This years arrivals could include forwards Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson, Mike Halmo and perhaps Nino Niederreiter, each, an investment by the Islanders in the future of the franchise.