The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have just completed their worst weekend of the year. Playing the second of two consecutive three (games) in three (nights) series, they were only able to capture 5 of the 6 points available. The one point missed occurred on Friday night in a game won by the Springfield Falcons in the 7th round of a shoot-out.
The team returned home to the Webster Bank Arena on Saturday for the 2nd game of the 3 in 3 weekend and through 15 minutes of the second period looked nothing like themselves. Poulin in goal was not having his best night. Snipers Ullstrom and Cizikas were playing in the National League and Rhett Rakhshani was still out injured. Tomas Marcinko was also unavailable serving the 2nd game of his 3 game suspension and the team was losing 0-3 with five minutes left in the second period. But there are four lines in hockey and winning teams get production from all four.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.
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.
While Kevin Poulin has been enjoying his deserved Pou-LIN-sanity awards and rewards his partner between the pipes Anders Nilsson has gone quietly about his job setting records of his own. On Saturday night he tied the Bridgeport Sound Tigers record for consecutive wins by a tender blocking 26 of the 28 shots he faced in a win over the Adirondack Phantoms. The next afternoon he broke the record previously held by Nate Lawson recording his eighth straight win. In this win over the perennial powerhouse Hershey Bears he allowed only one of the 21 shots he faced to cross the line. Not giving up a goal in overtime he went on to stop all 5 shots he faced in the shoot-out.
Yesterdays game was a rare one o’clock matinee and after playing Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 3pm Anders picked up the first AHL shut out of his career stopping all twenty-six shots sent his way by the Albany Devils. Team record nine wins in a row for this Swedish behemoth, who looks like a transformer when fully dressed.
With all the good things that I, John Madonia and others have written about the Bridgeport Sound Tigers you might think that post season play is a given. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Bridgeport’s outlook might be better than our parent club the Islanders it is only marginally better.
A goalie of the month award to Kevin Poulin, a player of the month award to Casey Cizikas and a 13-1-1 record since I replaced Miss December with Miss January and still no guarantees. While writing this post, Edwin Starr’s rock classic ‘WAR’ starts playing and I start singing ‘One-Month . . . What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing.’
The New York Islanders future has always been uncertain when it's come to whether or not they will remain in Nassau County when the lease expires in 2015. Christian Arnold of Islanders Hockey Blog wrote an excellent piece since he was able to attend a public meeting at the Nassau County Legislature as a group of developers met to discuss the possibility of developing the hub in 2015, with or without the New York Islanders.
The Republicans have done their part to thwart owner Charles Wangs' efforts to get a new arena and the Democrats have thrown road blocks of their own, putting the Islanders in a position where Vince Polimeni of ABLI (A Better Long Island) has the upper hand in developing that giant parking lot into a place that doesn't contain an NHL hockey team. And Polimeni isn't the only one that has come to this realization; other developers have been drawing up their own proposals (Read Arnold's blog for more in-depth coverage).
2015 may be three years away, but it will be here a lot quicker than most may realize, regardless of your position on the topic. But 2013 is a lot closer, and the future of the Islanders success may get worse. (Photo Credit: clyedorama/Flickr)
In this edition of the prospect report I will take a look at two more late round draft picks of the Islanders to see if Garth Snow has found any hidden gems. Mitchell Theoret and Johan Persson are two forwards currently playing junior hockey with hopes of one day making it to the Islander’s line-up.
Mitchell Theoret was drafted in 7th round (185th overall) during the 2011 draft. The left winger is currently playing on the Niagara Ice Dogs with Ryan Strome another Islanders prospect. In 47 games so far this season Theoret has scored 10 goals to go along with 6 assist. Known to be more of a grinder type player these numbers aren’t bad for a player of his style.
The Webster Bank Arena is the number one venue for overall family entertainment in all of Southern CT. This keeps a promise made by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch on April 28,2011. The promise was made at the newly named Webster Bank Arena at an event attended by Charles Wang where Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, LLC. Was named as facility manager of the arena.
On that day Sound Tigers President Howard Saffan said, “This sports complex is a jewel that we will showcase with not only exciting hockey games but also attracting first class events year round.”
Being a Sound Tiger fan pays huge dividends. Quality professional hockey games, a state of the art facility at the Webster Bank Arena, and a unique fan experience top the list. Become a season ticket holder and the entire experience gets ramped up exponentially with all the perks available. Join the booster club and you will be given the opportunity to meet and perhaps befriend these young and future stars.
There is a dark side to this happy scenario, which can oftentimes be painful. As a developmental team, players are rarely here for more than 3 seasons; so saying goodbye to a friend becomes part of the equation. Sadly, Jesse Joensuu and Robin Figren are two friends that did not return this season.