The American League. . . No, Not That One!

(Aaron Ness/Steve Pope)

There are many differences between National League (NHL) and American League (AHL) players. Talent and dedication do not make that list.  Perhaps that is why Islanders coach Jack Capuano refers to ‘call-ups’ as American League players and not minor leaguers.  It may be because he coached the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; it could be that he himself was successful at the NCAA, ECHL, AHL, and NHL levels. No distinction. When Cappy makes the call to Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson to fill a need, the Isles will get a talented, dedicated player who fits in seamlessly into the system.

The biggest difference (my opinion) is the fan experience. Parking?  Not a problem and free to season ticket holders. Tickets available? Most likely and you can more often than not move to another seat as you wish. Drunken Flyers fans in the building? Not in Howard Saffan’s house! Player accessibility? Let’s talk.

  • Pick up your season tickets - An on the ice party where ticket holders have the opportunity to meet and welcome this years team
  • Post game meet and greet with 2 player s- For BSTBC members - Fun Q’s and A’s . ‘Who snores the loudest on a bus trip?
  • Late season ride around the sound on the Port Jeff Ferry for season ticket holders and players - Open Bar!
  • To name a few of many.

Tuesday night the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Booster Club (BSTBC) hosted their annual winter players members dinner, as always a success.  From the player introductions by BST communications manager Jamie Palatini to the requisite chicken dance performed by BST rookies, it was a great night (Thanks Debbie and Ray). I was seated at a table with two players each taking a different path to the National League.

Aaron Ness has all the skills necessary to be noticed by scouts; great first stride, excellent speed, tape to tape passes and for a defenseman a rare and instinctive-offensive ability. Noticed early in his career, he was the Islanders second pick, 40th overall in the 2008 draft.

Will he make it? He has all the skills and may get a late season look-see. Most likely in his exit interview he will be asked to add an ounce or two to his body. And he will.  It’s the dedication.                                                                      

                                                             (TylerMcNeely/Steve Pope)

Tyler McNeely was the other player I had a chance to talk to.  Undrafted, Tyler spent four years in the NCAA at Northeastern U., putting up some impressive numbers. Joining the Tigers on an ATO - (Amateur Try Out), he impressed and was awarded a one-year two-way contract with the Isles. His exit interview is still being written. Will he make it? If not, it won’t be for the lack of skill or dedication. With the Islanders or elsewhere, the kid brings it.

Go ahead Cappy make the call.  National or American, you will not be disappointed.

Mike Flannery


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