On the Farm
This weekend is it for the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. If the Sound Tigers take three of three, they're in the playoffs, period. But without running the table, chips need to fall into place. Tonight is the biggest chip of all, as Michael Fornabaio (and Trevor Smith) explains: It's a proverbial "four point" game in Lowell, with the added bonus that the winner also takes the season series tiebreaker. Bridgeport is also home to Manchester Saturday night, and home to Hartford Sunday afternoon.
Adding to the weekend's challenge: leading scorer Greg Mauldin was in Pittsburgh playing for the Islanders last night. Depending on how needs shake out, it could be one of those legendary end-of-season busy weekends for the veteran.
Speaking of veterans, Sound Tigers captain Mark Wotton will be honored for his expected 1,000th pro game. Regular Bridgeport watchers will tell you how important Wotton has been in the development of the players we've seen debut on the Islanders blueline.
On the Incubator
- Jyri Niemi's Blades made it a series by winning Game 3 on the road at Travis Hamonic's Wheat . They can keep it a series if they win again tonight. Hamonic has 2 goals, 2 assists in seven playoff games so far. Niemi has 2 goals and a plus-4.
- Casey Cizikas and the M-i-s-s-i-s-a-u-g-a St. Michael's Majors could be eliminated in Game 6 Saturday afternoon, which would be an upset. Cizikas has 3-4-7 in nine playoff games so far.
- In the QMJHL, Kevin Poulin has now backstopped eight Victoriaville playoff wins (and two losses) with a 1.86 GAA and .943 SV% while seeing over 32 shots per game. After sweeping Quebec, he's waiting for their semifinal opponent.
- In the USHL Anders Lee -- who tied for the league lead in goals on the USHL's regular season champions -- began his playoff campaign in a 2-1 win over Waterloo Wednesday. (Aside: Lee's goalie in Green Bay will be joining him at Notre Dame.) Game two is tonight.
Oh yeah: The big-league Islanders have two significant games this weekend, too. "Significant" for division rivals New Jersey and Pittsburgh, anyway. We'll give those the usual treatment, then next week the post-mortems, report cards, and general offseason and playoff-watching fun will commence.