Bruce Bennett - Getty Images
If the NHL lockout is depressing enough for New York Islanders' fans, at least the farm team's opening weekend of games could not have gone better.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers opened up their 2012-13 season with two wins -- real battles, not cakewalks too -- and the success was marked by strong performances from players who, if The Plan goes according to plan, will be big parts of the New York Islanders' eventual success.
- Travis Hamonic with three assists in the opening game (but we all already know Hamonic's for real anyway)
- Nino Niederreiter opening with a goal and two assists, +2 and 2G 2A for the weekend.
- Kirill Kabanov with two assists in the opener, despite special teams interrupting his usage in his first pro game.
- Kevin Poulin getting the call for the second game an hour before faceoff (Anders Nilsson was ill) and doing just fine in back-to-backs.
- Brock Nelson with a goal and assist in the opener, another assist in Saturday's 4-2 win over Providence, and some promising praise from Scott Pellerin.
- A five-goal outburst in Friday night's second period, turning the 0-2 score around on the way to a 6-4 win over the Connecticut Whale. The Sound Tigers outshot the Whale 45-31, with 19 shots in each of the first two periods.
Other names, not household on draft-watching Isles' fans minds, also had good weekends: Brandon DeFazio, Matt Watkins, Jon Landry. The team's mix of prospects and minor pros and end-around late bloomers should make this team fun to follow.
And, you know, follow we will. The NHL's situation begs it. The AHL's quality tells us the alternatives aren't half bad.
Bridgeport 4, Providence 2: [boxscore] [Conn. Post] [Fornabaio blog, including Pellerin on Nelson, and why Matt Donovan drew the scratch]
From that last link:
"Brock, for a young player, is a solid two-way player," Pellerin said. "He’s going to find his offensive side. I think you saw some of it this weekend. He’s a guy I’m looking forward to working with. … He’s a guy you can put in all different situations."
Should be fun.