The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season and while some of this early season success can be attributed to the ‘influx of NHL talent’ that every team is enjoying, there are other subtle benefits that this current NHL forced lockout has provided and the Sound Tigers are taking full advantage.
Similarly to Nino Niederreiter, many were wondering where Ryan Strome would be playing at the start of the 2013 season. After being selected by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Strome remained with the team straight out of training camp. He only watched two NHL games from the press-box before being sent back to his OHL team, the Niagara Ice Dogs. (Photo Credit: mandelux12/Flickr)
Strome continued to impress with the Ice Dogs and had some hockey pundits expecting him to crack the Islanders line-up this year. But the NHL work stoppage has basically kept many Islanders prospects with their respective junior teams or their farm team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Therefore, Strome has continued his career with the Ice Dogs this season, playing for them for the fourth year in a row.
After a rookie season that no one expected from an Islanders top prospect, Nino Niederreiter is finally getting the development he has needed in the professional ranks of hockey. (Photo Credit: MVerminski/Flickr)
After being a 40-goal scorer in the WHL, Nino became a fourth liner that saw very limited ice time that only resulted in one goal in 55 games played in the NHL. He saw injuries and even some healthy time spent in the press-box as a scratch, and was often playing with veteran penalty killer Jay Pandolfo, and career AHL'er Tim Wallace.
It seemed as if the big power-forward was potentially turning into a big bust.
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.
This would have been de Haan’s second year as a professional and promised to be his breakout season. Had there been a training camp, it is very likely he would have made the Islanders roster as a second or third line d-man.
Selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, a mere eleven picks after the Islanders selected John Tavares, de Haan has all the tools necessary to be a top tier blue liner. His story is amazingly similar to that of another recent top pick, Mark Katic.
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?
Left to carry the banner as the premier hockey league in North America is the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Islanders proud affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
If you are planning a trip to the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport for your first taste of AHL action you are in for a treat. The quality of play and level of competition will leave you impressed, the more intimate fan experience and ambiance of this state of the art facility will certainly leave you planning to return.
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.