Prior to the NHL lockout, the New York Islanders announced that the team will be moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn once the lease with Nassau County expires in 2015. Although this was good news for the local fans, this situation also provided a lot of work for team owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
The Islanders need to be a team ready to compete by the time they enter their new home. A new arena means a new identity, and it cannot be the one that this team has maintained for the last few years.
With the NHL in a lockout that important part of the AHL experience was gone and it was missed. Hockey wasn’t the same. But the NHL is back and hockey is once again whole. Some five or six Sound Tigers will be called-up in the next few days to begin the abbreviated 2012 -2013 season, others will be called as needed over the next few months.
My friends are now asking me “How are the Sound Tigers going to be after they lose all those players to the Islanders?” My honest response is “They are a better team now than the club that started the season.”
Many NHL fans were clamoring for both Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman to be locked in a room without the option of leaving until a new CBA deal was agreed upon. That is basically what took place last night.
Several months later, a 16-hour negotiating process that ended around 5 AM Sunday morning resulted in a new CBA that is in the process of being ironed out on paper. The deal is a 10-year agreement with an opt-out clause that is available at eight years (Photo credit: shot7photos/Flickr).
For each of the last several seasons the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have played an early November matinee promoted as ‘Cool Fun – 101’. With the generous support of People’s United Bank, which purchases thousands of tickets for the less fortunate, school children from around the area descend on the Webster Bank Arena for an 11 am game of hockey. (The success of this autumn ritual has resulted in a spring sequel dubbed ‘Spring Fun- 102’ held in early April.)
Many of the children scheduled to attend this years’ autumn offering could not attend as the entire region was dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Among those schools unable to attend were Newtown High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School, regular participants and members of the Sound Tigers extended ‘family’. Sadly, twenty young innocents and six of their teachers will never have that opportunity again.
There might not be any NHL hockey to watch this season, but the Islanders have some young and talented skaters that are developing nicely with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.; Brock Nelson is one of them.
Nelson was selected by the Islanders 30th overall in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and spent two years playing with the University of North Dakota. In his sophomore season, Nelson scored 47 points in 42 games, earning him a brief stint with the Sound Tigers at the end of the 2012 season.
He did not put up any points in the four games he dressed in for the Sound Tigers. This year, however, has been an entirely different story.
You would think that the transition from the NHL to the AHL would be an easy one for a player, especially one with previous AHL experience. This has not been the case for Islanders D-man Travis Hamonic who has often appeared frustrated with the game.
Hamonic’s numbers from his brief 19 games with the Sound Tigers in 2010 (2 goals and 5 assists) nearly match his 19 game total this year (3 goals and 6 assists) but his 135 games played in the NHL in the interim gave him a taste of the game he is more comfortable playing. ‘Hammer’ needs more speed and pace to the game and you can sense his frustration nightly.
A streak is not a streak until it reaches two games and the Sound Tigers have just suffered their first losing streak of the season, this one a three gamer. Last seasons’ Division Championship winner endured two such three gamers, a four, a five and a six game swoon before they captured the title.
Though still ahead of last year’s pace (20 pts. after 17 games vs. 18 in 2011) this recent streak has caught the attention of the otherwise idle Isles organization brass.
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.