Brent Thompson

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Sweet Suite Night

The first annual ‘Suite Seat Competition’, sponsored by The Checking Line – Isles Edition was a huge success at every level. Any time you can make a six-year old happy you had a good day and Justin Juliano (whose father Joseph was our Grand Prize Winner) never stopped smiling. An hour before game time and the Webster Bank Arena concourse was already getting crowded as our groups VIP tour began. Artfully led by my personal account rep. Maddie Gillan, we navigated through the crowds to the seldom seen areas of the arena as she explained how they each come together to produce a circus, concert or other of the many events held at the arena. We were there for the game between the Connecticut Whale and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and ended our tour in suite 417, our home for the afternoon.

Is Jack Capuano On The Islanders Hot Seat?

Many were immediately calling for the removal of head coach Jack Capuano at the start of the season once the New York Islanders' record began to slip from 3-1 to way below .500. However, there were some, like myself, who argued that it was premature to blame the coaching staff for the poor start due to the fact that the roster from last season hadn't changed much and for the other simple fact - the season was still young. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)

Since then, the Islanders have managed to be a consistent below .500 team for the year. They have come close on a few occasions from jumping over the hurdle but would then find a way to take two steps back after taking one step forward. This past week has been the most disheartening of the year for Isles fans in relation to how the team has continued to perform. Not only have they lost games, but they have done it with such depression that even the U.S. economy cringed.

Three of the last eight games saw the Islanders either blow a three-goal lead or lose the game in the final few minutes of the third period. It started when the Islanders went into the second period against the Washington Capitals with a 2-0 lead on February 28th. The Caps would score two goals in the final three minutes of the game and then go on to have Alexander Ovechkin score the early game winning goal in the extra frame. The Islanders also had a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils just this past Saturday, only to see their opponent score two goals just 14 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the hockey game. And most recently, the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead last night against the Caps to lose 5-4 in the shootout.

Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, Clear Day

Like most hockey fans, I followed this Mondays NHL Trade Deadline with piqued interest. I had to work until 7pm but the 600 plus tweets I received kept me apprised of the days’ activity. As a Bridgeport Sound Tiger fan the trade of 39 year old forward Brian Rolston was great news.

Rolston had cleared waivers at noon the previous day and was destined to Bridgeport if not for that trade. If the Islanders didn’t need his services the Sound Tigers certainly did not. We have a good thing going and his presence would hurt a strong young team.

One-on-One With Matt Donovan

Matt Donovan is currently in the second half of his first full season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 50 games played, the 6 foot, 202 pound defenseman has registered six goals and 25 assists for 31 points while maintaining a +11 rating.

Donovan has quickly become one of the Sound Tigers most reliable and contributing defenseman, playing with others such as Aaron Ness, Calvin de Haan and Ty Wishart. Selected 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Donovan has been developing nicely. He had spent two seasons with the University of Denver before making his transition from college life to that of a professional hockey player. His best year with Denver came in 2011 where he scored 32 points from the blue line in 42 games.

On the depth charts, Donovan looks as if to be one of the most well polished blue liners that the Islanders organization has groomed through their farm system. If he continues his play, this could be the last time Connecticut locals will see him in a Sound Tigers jersey.

He and I talked about that possibility this afternoon over the phone.

Blue Line Pipe Line

The recent rash of injuries (an annual occurrence of late) and an unexpected ‘defection’ to Russia has diminished but not drained the pool of talented blue liners available in Bridgeport. The return of Mark Katic (perhaps within 2 weeks) and Calvin DeHaan shortly thereafter bring the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to full strength for our playoff run.

The Islanders with 40 points needed in their remaining 29 games to reach 92 points are in a playoff run as well. The Isles might well be looking for some help on D before the Feb. 27 deadline, but given the talent already in the pipeline I thin that would prove money ill spent. Secondary scoring has been missing, not defensive.

The recent rash of injuries (an annual occurrence of late) and an unexpected ‘defection’ to Russia has diminished but not drained the pool of talented blue liners available in Bridgeport. The return of Mark Katic (perhaps within 2 weeks) and Calvin DeHaan shortly thereafter bring the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to full strength for our playoff run.

The Islanders with 40 points needed in their remaining 29 games to reach 92 points are in a playoff run as well. The Isles might well be looking for some help on D before the Feb. 27 deadline, but given the talent already in the pipeline I thin that would prove money ill spent. Secondary scoring has been missing, not defense.

And the Lombardi Trophy goes to....

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers had their franchise record 8th consecutive road game win Friday night. Their streak was extended with the defeat of the Portland Pirates by the final score of 6-2.

Out scoring their opponents 34 to 13 during their time away from Webster Bank Arena, they now have 13 road wins for the season. That gives them one more road win than they had all of last year. With 2 away games left on this years calendar this club has earned the title ”Road Warriors”.

W.U. Grad next Sound Tiger?

Thirty teams in the NHL and each has an AHL affiliate to draw talent from as needed. All but two of these AHL clubs has a team in the ECHL providing a similar service. The two expectations are the Wild’s- Houston Aeros and the Islanders- Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

As a result, Coach Brent Thompson has relied heavily on his connections and experience in the ECHL to bring talented prospects up to Bridgeport. ‘Tommer’, as the players call him, was coach of the 2010-11 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces and often looks there for talent.

An ever-changing line-up is part and parcel to being a coach in the American League. Bridgeport has already dressed seven different goalies and at least thirty-five skaters (forwards and defensemen), and it is just Ground Hog Day! The next call-up to Bridgeport might well be a hat-trick master from Frost Bite Falls, Minn.

The American League. . . No, Not That One!

There are many differences between National League (NHL) and American League (AHL) players. Talent and dedication do not make that list. Perhaps that is why Islanders coach Jack Capuano refers to ‘call-ups’ as American League players and not minor leaguers. It may be because he coached the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, it could be that he himself was successful at the NCAA, ECHL, AHL, and NHL levels. No distinction. When Cappy makes the call to Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson to fill a need, the Isles will get a talented, dedicated player who fits in seamlessly into the system.

The biggest difference (my opinion) is the fan experience. Parking? Not a problem and free to season ticket holders. Tickets available? Most likely and you can more often than not move to another seat as you wish. Drunken Flyer’s fans in the building? Not in Howard Saffan’s house! Player accessibility? Let’s talk.