The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night for their second to last home game of the regular season at Nassau Coliseum. In honor of the fact that the Islanders will soon be leaving Nassau County for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the franchise dedicated this evening’s game to a few select players that have played major roles for this team over the past four decades.
Such players included Ed Westfall, Gary Howatt, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Webb, Eric Cairns and Shawn Bates.
Each player was honored with a video tribute highlighting their contributions to the franchise during their respective decades.
Recently the NHL canceled regular season games through Oct. 24th, thus pushing back the start date for many teams to the 2013 season. The Islanders have erased six games from their October schedule with the new opening game being set for Friday, October 26th against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
This would have been a marquee match-up ten years ago with every Islanders fan having this game circled on their calendars after a bloody, injury filled and violent playoff series with the Leafs in 2002. Those games were the start of the end for some players (Michael Peca) while the dawning of new beginnings for others (Trent Hunter). Steve Webb became a household name that still gets chanted at the Coliseum to this day, and no one will ever forget Eric Cairns' salute to the crowd after pummeling Shayne Corson at center Ice.
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.
After the New York Islanders hosted the Florida Panthers this afternoon, MET-Rx sponsored a "Skate With The Greats" game where lucky, everyday hockey players that won their sweepstakes got the chance to play against Islanders alumni and other sports celebrities. Among the active participants were goaltender Chico Resch, forwards Doug Weight, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom and Butch Goring, defenseman Eric Cairns, General Manager Garth Snow (who skated out instead of playing net), and TV host and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.
Boomer's son Gunner, who battles cystic fibrosis, dressed for the game as well and played on the same team as his father. Both of them were on the white team which also featured Bossy, Gillies and Snow. The blue team had Cairns, Nystrom, Weight and Goring dressed as the opposition. Resch played between the pipes for the first period for the blue team but then sat out for the remaining two periods in favor of another goaltender.
Each period was 15 minutes long in running time with a three minute intermission in between each period. Penalty shots were awarded if penalties were taken; believe it or not, two were called. The first came when Boomer wrestled Weight in the corner, yanking his stick out of his hands and throwing it over the glass. Weight managed to get his stick back from the fan, who returned it willingy, and then failed to convert on the penalty shot, rifling a one handed shot over the crossbar.