What began as a normal weekend for Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter, turned into one of the strangest in recent memory for the team. Niederreiter made is usual call to Pete’s Deli & News for a ‘to-go’ order on his way to the arena for the Sound Tigers morning skate before the team left for Providence for the first of three games in three days.
The game in Providence started like any other before getting out of hand with the Bruins scoring the opener after two minutes of play and Matt Donovan answering four minutes later with his eighth of the season. With two minutes and thirty seconds left in the opening period, Matt Watkins was given the whistle on a very questionable hooking call, and the game changed.
The Sound Tigers would fall behind again with 26 seconds left in the middle period when the Whale scored a power play goal with Nino Niederreiter on the bench serving the teams ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty. John Persson would tie the game in the final period scoring his fifteenth of the season on Bridgeport’s second and final power play opportunity of the night, setting the stage for Sean Backman’s late game heroics.
Backman’s game has improved noticeably over the last month or so. In the past his time was spent between the hashmarks waiting for an outlet pass and avoiding the dirty areas of the ice, but no longer.
Perhaps over-looked because of his size, 5’10” and 170 pounds, the Isles 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft continues to impress as he has since high school when he was named Minnesota’s ‘Mr. Hockey’. Ness along with Jon Persson and Blair Riley are the only players who have played in each of the teams first 42 games (although a stick to the face cost him a couple of teeth and forced him to wear the ‘bubble mask’ recently).
Selected in the sixth round of the same 2008 draft, again by the Islanders, was another smallish defender (5’8’,175 lbs.) Jared Spurgeon who has already established himself as an NHL’er with the Minnesota Wild. It’s more often than not a matter of being in the right place at the right time that gets your career a jump-start but it is the consistent effort given every shift that gets rewarded.
Several posts yesterday surfaced from from ESPN’s Katie Strang and other respected reporters that Islanders top prospect Nino Niederreiter had asked to be traded. Featured writer Rob McGowan of The Checking Line – Isles Edition offered a well-written account that sheds light on the rumors and misinformation that was being reported. (Dave Csorda captures one of Nino's many celebrations in this photo.)
As a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Booster Club (BSTBC) I attended the annual ‘BSTBC Snowflake Dinner’ on Tuesday evening and advised my editor, McGowan that I would ask Nino about the reports that were appearing online. Held this January at The Riverview Bistro, the ‘Snowflake Dinner’ is a very casual opportunity for the fans to get to know and interact with the players on a more personal level, not a night for interviews.
However, given the fact that these reports were nearly as important as news about Subway's eleven-inch foot-long, I asked Nino if the reports were true.
According to Katie Strang of ESPN, New York Islanders prospect Nino Niederreiter is seeking a trade from the organization.
Niederreiter has currently been playing for the Isles farm team affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after dressing for 55 games with the Islanders during the 2011-2012 season. While in the NHL, Niederreiter scored one goal and was a -29. He primarily played on the fourth line with Jay Pandolfo and Tim Wallace (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
He has arguably been the best player for the Sound Tigers this year. In 39 games played he has scored 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points. He also leads the team with 122 shots on goal and eight power play points.
Day one of training camp for The New York Islanders has been completed as plenty of familiar faces took to the ice today to either look to impress the coaching staff, or get back into game shape.
However, one player who was not at camp was defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.
Visnovsky has made it clear that he wants to remain with his team in the KHL, which is unsettling for Isles fans as well as his teammates. Arthur Staple of Newsday's recent report from camp today had quotes from some of the Islanders, including general manager Garth Snow, that indicated their displeasure with his actions (Photo Credit: bridgetds/Flick).
The Sound Tigers have moved rapidly to reload their roster in anticipation of the much too long delayed start of the NHL’s 2012-2013 season. Jack Combs and Chad Costello have shredded their try-out offer sheets and replaced them with AHL deals locking them in place for the season.
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.”