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.
With plenty of focus on the NHL and AHL all star breaks, there’s also a place with slightly less fanfare that’s also approaching it’s halfway point; the ECHL. With the Cincinnati Cyclones finally playing their 36th game Friday night, every team has hit the halfway point in the league.
Going into play Saturday night, the Flyers ECHL affiliate, the Trenton Titans, sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with 15-19-3-3 record. While 36 points may seem weak, the team’s low total is misleading as they are just five points out of a playoff position.
Even in the midst of a disappointing season for the Trenton Titans, there has been one consistent bright spot on the calendar- the Reading Royals (15-15-3-3-36). The Titans (13-16-3-3-32) have won three consecutive games against their division rival and looked to make it four last night in Trenton.
In a season plagued by slow starts, the Titans once again found themselves down 1-0 early as John Scrymgeour pounced on a loose puck in the slot and plant a slap shot over the shoulder of Titans goalie Brad Phillips.
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.
The New York Islanders sent out an official press-release today stating that Russian defensive prospect Anton Klementyev has been suspended by the club for a failure to report to his ECHL assignment to the Idaho Steelheads.
Per the Islanders official press-release:
UNIONDALE, NY (January 7, 2012) – The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Anton Klementyev has been suspended for failure to report for his ECHL assignment to the Idaho Steelheads. Klementyev began the 2011-12 season with the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Coming off a close win in Reading last night, Trenton looked to continue their winning ways at home against division rival Elmira.
Helping the Titans in this effort was the return of defenseman Andy Thomas from the Phantoms. The Titans have been weak on defense recently with several defenders either injured or up in the AHL for better part of December. Thomas and the rest of the Titans defense would be put to the test early as Trenton spent six minutes in the first period on the penalty kill.