Editor's Note: This is Cary K's report from taking in the Sunday Sound Tigers game, a nail-biting 3-2 loss to Hershey with some controversy at the end.
Rather than continue the Sound Tigers Report blog I'd started last year it seems more prudent to just post updates here - Dominik does a fabulous job - one stop shopping and all - just don't turn into Wal-Mart, okay? (Oh yeah, Long Island, Malls, why am I an Islander fan again? anyway...)
Seemed a good day to take in a Sound Tigers game, with likely roster openings pending, the game today figured to be hot & indicative, even though a third game in three days - much more after the quasi-jump...... where to begin? Let us count the myriad of interesting discussion points that emerged today in Bridgeport:
1) Referees Okay, perhaps as important as anything an Islanders prospect needs to learn is that you have to overcome not only the opposition, but at times, the officiating won't quite go your way either. At the end of today's game, the Sound Tigers had a tying goal denied as it had been "frozen" - it wasn't. And for no reason the ensuing faceoff was in center ice, and the subsequent clear icing not called. Thompson was properly livid. Good training for the young 'uns - get used to it...speaking of which, any word from Shanny on the Nino hit? Didn't think so.
2) Kevin Poulin made a number of outstanding saves, definitely getting sharper. The last two Hershey goals he was caught out on a bit, especially a breakaway where Keith Aucoin easily faked him out of his shoes, but then again Aucoin is the AHL's leading scorer, and arguably belongs in the NHL - still, Kevin's getting stronger and should be the callup if RDP misses time. Here's hoping Kevin can continue to stay healthy - he is our main netminding prospect - wouldn't it be great to have Montoya/Poulin for years to come? Wouldn't it be cool if today was Kevin's last ever game in Bridgeport due to success up top? That would be a very good thing indeed.
3) Forward March With the injuries to Nino & possibly Grabs, and the ineffectiveness of Reasoner, etc., there clearly could be one or more Forwards required in the near future. Ullstrom was the best of the bunch by far the last time I took in a game, but there's clearly more here. Lets look at these by category - we clearly don't have much offense (0-8 on the PP), but what we do have are:
a) The Two-Way Contingent That would be Trevor Frischmon, Jeremy Colliton, Tomas Marcinko (and probably in that order). Not just because Frischmon had two goals today - he was very sharp, and lets recall that he was one of the last to go down in preseason along with Reese, so he had endeared himself to the front office before. Maybe he knew something today, because he sure played like it. He was a one man wrecking crew on the PK at times. His first goal was a beautiful opposite direction, top corner wrist shot that was NHL worthy. Frischmon is better than Reasoner. Colliton plays a nice game, but he seemed to not quite have the energy today at times. He is the Captain - he might get a callup still, but am thinking he won't be the first of this group. Marcinko continues to progress nicely, and may have a future, but he has a lot of competition at his Center position, including Cizikas who belongs in this category as well, of course, but he is also the leading candidate among
b) Those Who Bring Intangibles And that would indeed be Cizikas, as well as Dibenedetto - both of whom I hope find their way to Uniondale very very very soon (did I remember to say very?). Cizikas has an unteachable game sense, and a lot of drive, both of which will be very beneficial. I feel strongly that he will be our next "bringer of the Intangibles" - this category of player has arguably been the most important in Islanders history, and so we have a lot to look forward to. This vitally important category includes the likes of Tonelli, Henning, Nystrom, and of course, the player who put us over the top (so I wish you'd all show him more respect), Butch Goring. Cizikas in his own way will be that type of player. Call him up now. Much like Hamonic last year, there just isn't much to learn in the AHL if you have it. He has it. Dibenedetto on the other hand is Pete Rose, Sean Avery, Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz - the commonality being of course the unteachable art of getting under the opposition's skin. Justin drew numerous penalties and was a general thorn in the side of the Hershey Bears, and in a good way. I want him on the Islanders now. So should you.
c) And then there are those who are not ready - that would include Rhett Rakhshani (seemed to be playing hurt), Backman (had some great energy and has been heralded by Coach Thompson for it - keep it up), Tim Wallace (a nice fit for Dibo & Cizikas here - up top? not so sure), and the rest - Howes (sorry he didn't play), Gallant (nice fight), Riley (gutsy fight), McNeely (like his spirit - not sure there's more), Romano (was robbed by Holtby on his one shot)
A solid crew of forwards, with a lot of future Islanders, but not that much offense, and that's a good thing, because it makes the
4) Defense need to concentrate, which they should be doing anyway, however, these guys have a lot to learn...lets go one at a time....
a) Ty Wishart I'm really sick of this guy to be honest. He has size, he can shoot a reasonable snapshot, but he has no vision or sense on defense, and he often didn't hustle especially in the 3rd period, made lazy passes. He plays like he doesn't particularly care. My earlier statements on him stand. Saw him the first game he played with Bridgeport, and not much has changed at all. There's a reason he remains anchored in the AHL. He is probably at best an adequate #6 Dman in the NHL, but he's not as good as Jurcina -- Wishart makes too many mistakes in his own end, he gets lost at times, he's not a great passer, but he can fill space well, and contribute a bit on offense. I don't like his game at all. He retains potential, but it is down the road at best. Patience is in order - but if I were Wishart, I'd lose my patience more often on the ice, at the expense of the other team.
b) Calvin de Haan Finally had a chance to see this guy, and what a puzzle he is. He doesn't have the greatest shot, but its not as bad as some have said. He isn't the greatest puck carrier. He definitely doesn't have the size or hit like one might like. I have no idea what type of player he projects as, which is odd to say the least. But he has a nice sense of poise about himself that I like. A lot. He's a very interesting player, and one to watch. Might like to see him paired with Jurcina as a 5 now.
c) Matt Donovan & Aaron Ness Why are these two paired here? They project to be the same type of player, and have a fairly similar game. Ness has a bit more poise at present, Donovan is probably a bit better offensively. Both are already better than Mottau, and could be paired with someone like Hamonic or Staios arguably, but both will benefit from time in the AHL - would suspect they are both here until next year unless necessary. Oleksy by the way is a very nice pickup from the ECHL (as Howes is apparently as well). Thompson's ECHL experience given him a good eye for players who cna help the team, if not become prospects to consider for further - good stuff. Poor Klementyev continues to look forlorn. The wives and girlfriends did a nice job selling bracelets for Lokomotiv. (Who was that gorgeous woman who took my $10?)
5) Last but not Least, the Black Uniforms As for me, I think the Black jerseys are great. Why didn't they put Brigeport on the uniform as opposed to Sound Tigers? Bridgeport & Black supposed to be threatening or something? A missed opportunity - but I like them. Saw a study somewhere that Black & Silver jerseyed teams have some sort of edge.
That's all for now. In summary, there's some good ingredients in Bridgeport that could be quite helpful if sprinkled in properly. Not much help for the PP though. Happy shopping season.