If an actual NHL season is really less than a month away (what is this, September?), then Nino Niederreiter's application to end his AHL internship early continues to build. He had another goal tonight, the final insurance goal in a 4-1 win over the Manchester Monarchs, giving him 30 points in 30 games this season.
Like so many of Niederreiter's 16 goals, this one came with Niederreiter hanging out within 15 feet of the goal, on a redirection of Ty Wishart's drive from the point. Last season Niederreiter had one goal on 74 shots in 55 games. He has 16 on 96 shots so far in 2012-13.
(Meanwhile Ryan Strome, another "Pick me now!" candidate in the Islanders pipeline, is shining at the 2013 World Junior Championship.)
But as for tonight's game, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers made it three for three over head coach Scott Pellerin's former team. With a 4-1 final, this one was the closest of the three.
The teams played to a 1-1 tie in the first period, and Bridgeport used a couple of second period powerplays to pepper but not beat Manchester goalie Martin Jones. Finally, with 2:30 remaining in the period, Bridgeport reeled off two goals in a 1:14 span, Sean Backman with his second of the night and Casey Cizikas with his ninth of the season. The Sound Tigers report it is Backman's first two-goal game as a pro.
(His first was an insane backhand, as you'll see in the video below.)
Anders Nilsson handled the Monarchs as he had in two previous meetings, making 14 of his 31 saves in the third period as the Sound Tigers sealed the game.
The Post has how Backman wouldn't have even been in the lineup without a suspension to Brett Gallant. Serendipity.
The official recap has a happy Pellerin, including:
"Anders needed a game like that," Pellerin said. "Manchester is a high-skilled hockey team. They're probably one of the better teams we've seen this year in regard to making plays off the rush. It really caused us some problems. They had some Grade A chances in the slot that Anders was able to make first and second saves, so it was a big night for him. I'm happy for his performance."
The Sound Tigers finish the calendar year on New Year's Eve with a 3 p.m. start at Adirondack.