In celebration of the New York Islanders 50th anniversary, Lighthouse Hockey will look at some of the under-the-radar moments, records and players in team history.
There have been 522 skaters to wear an Islanders jersey during their history. A whopping 26 percent of those players failed to score a goal. Former defenseman Matt Carkner played the most games (75) without scoring in an Islanders uniform. It makes “One-Goal Club” all the more exclusive, 65 members to be exact.
Grant Hutton is the most recent member of the club, having scored last season. The defenseman could join Aris Brimanis, Matt Donovan and 30 others in the even more exclusive “Two-Goal Club’’ if he is recalled from Bridgeport.
Three skaters (Richard Grenier, Bill Mikkelson and Ron Smith) from the 1972-73 inaugural season are charter members of the club. I’m going to focus on Mikkelson. The defenseman was selected from the Los Angeles Kings in the 1972 expansion draft. Mikkelson scored his lone goal against the Vancouver Canucks on November 3, 1972. he also posted a plus/minus rating of -54, the third-worst mark ever recorded at the time since the NHL had begun recording the stat in 1967. Mikkelson spent the following season in the AHL before being claimed once again in the expansion draft, this time by the Washington Capitals in 1974. He managed to top his plus/minus rating as his set a new NHL record of -82 in their inaugural season. A record that still stands today.
This club is not limited to skaters. 54 goalies have been between the pipes for the Islanders. Just one lit the other lamp. none other than Billy Smith. On November 28, 1979, the Isles trailed the Colorado Rockies, 4-3, in the third period when the Isles were called for a delayed penalty. Rockies defensemen Rob Ramage put the puck into his own goal and the goal was credited to the last Islander to touch the puck, originally believed to be Dave Lewis.
After the game, television replays showed that Smith was the last Islander to touch the puck, thus becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to be credited with a goal. The first goaltender to score a goal by actually taking a shot was then-future Islander Ron Hextall, who scored as a Philadelphia Flyer.
Perhaps the most dramatic entry into the one-goal club, Cole Bardreau overcame a laundry list of injuries to make it to the NHL. While at Cornell, he crashed head-first into the boards and broke his neck. The injury almost left him paralyzed. He was confined to a neck brace for three months and sidelined for six. He made his return, only to tear and re-tear his MCL. Bardreau could not catch a break. In his senior year, he did, his foot.
After signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, the injuries continued. In his first full season in the AHL, Bardreau missed over a month due to an arm and knee injury. The following season, he missed training camp due to abdominal surgery. Two seasons later, he broke his hand in a preseason game, ironically against the Islanders. He never played a regular-season game with the Flyers.
He signed with the Islanders in the summer of 2019. Injuries were the reason for his Islanders callup that season. Playing in his seventh game with New York, the forward was pulled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. He became the seventh player in NHL history to score his first career goal on a penalty shot when he went five hole on the Senators’ Craig Anderson. Bardreau would play another three game on the Island before heading back to the Bridgeport, where he still is today.
The quickest entry in this club is the immortal Rod Dallman, who scored on his first shot in his NHL first game against the Hartford Whalers in 1988. It was the only point of his five-shot, six-game NHL career.
The player with the fewest games played to achieve status in the “One-Goal Club’ was Shawn Evans. The defenseman played seven games for the St. Louis Blues in the 1985-86 season before signing with the Islanders. He would play two games with New York in the 1989-90 season, scoring in his second game. It would be his last game in the NHL. Evans would play professionally for another eight seasons.
To be completely honest, I had no memory of Mike Iggulden. Looking back, he had a great start to his Islanders career. In his first game with the Isles and second overall in the NHL, Iggulden assisted on two Sean Bergenheim goals. Iggulden had points in his first three games with the Islanders before heading to face the Montreal Canadiens. The St. Catharines, Ontario, native took a pass by Blake Comeau behind the goal and fired it past Carey Price for his first and only NHL goal. However, the point streak would end at four games and Iggulden would play another eight games on the Island before being return to Bridgeport. He would finish his professional career playing overseas.
John Tavares certainly had plenty of running mates during his time on the Island. Cory Conacher started the 2014-15 with Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The 5-foot-8 forward was gifted his goal by a tremendous play by the former captain helping the Islanders win their home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes in October 2014. The rest of Conacher’s time was largely forgettable. He played another 14 games before being placed on waivers. He was traded to Tampa the next day.
Former GM Garth Snow acquired defenseman Brandon Davidson and forward Chris Wagner in separate trade deadline deals in 2018, his final trade deadline. The Islanders sent a third-round pick to Edmonton for the would-be rental. The sole reason I am highlighting Davidson’s goal is that it might be the most fluke-ish one-goal in team history: Just over a minute in the game against the Penguins in March 2018, Davidson took a pass from Josh Bailey and sent an innocent backhand flip towards the Penguins Tristin Jarry, who lost his balance, and the puck snuck past the goaltender. In a related story, Wagner is also a member of this club, scoring one goal in his 15 games on the Island.
The player with the most games (175) with the Islanders scoring just one goal is Ken Baumgartner. “Bomber’s” lone goal with the Islanders occurred against the Los Angeles Kings in 1991. The goal came sandwiched in between a hat trick from Wayne Gretzky and two goals by Pat LaFontaine.
Baumgartner’s time on the Island is likely best remembered for the postgame brawl against the Rangers in Game one of the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs. LaFontaine was sent to the hospital as the result of a questionable hit by Rangers defenseman James Patrick. With two seconds left in the third period and the game in hand by the Rangers, Baumgartner and fellow enforcer, Mick Vukota, were dispatched by Islanders head coach Al Arbour and wreaked havoc on poor Rangers defenseman Jeff Bloemberg. The duo was suspended one game as a result of their actions. The Islanders lost the series in five games.
The enforcer, who amassed 678 PIM with the Islanders and 2,242 in his 12-year career, is not your typical goon, attending Hofstra during the offseasons, where he earned a degree in business and finance. Baumgartner, after his playing career was over, got his MBA from Harvard.
Perhaps the most fascinating stat of them all is that Baumgartner is the only player in NHL history to play a full 82-game season and record only one point. He accomplished the feat in the 1997-98 season with the Boston Bruins.