Needing Wins The Sound Tigers Offer A Diamond Mine of Entertainment

 

The Sound Tigers have ten games remaining in their season and while they still have a chance to make the playoffs, the chance is remote. It is likely the team would have to run the table in order to extend the season.

Ten W’s in ten games is a lot to ask of a team whose record in ‘Tweetish’ (140 chars. or less) to date is:  ‘#BST-W-W-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W-L-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-W-W-L-L-L-L-W-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-W-L-L-W-W-L-L-W-L-L-W-L-L.’ It does not look good for the playoffs, but tables have been run and there are still some compelling reasons to visit the Webster Bank Arena for the remaining games.

Nino Niederreiter leads all Tigers in scoring with 26 goals and 19 assists for a total of 45 points. One point behind him in scoring is assist leader Brock Nelson whose 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points puts Nelson in a tie for fourth place among AHL rookies this year. Watching the two teammates, both picked in the first round by the Isles in 2010, battle for the team points title will be entertaining. (The smart money is on Nelson (left) who, though he missed several games due to a fractured jaw, could easily be the second-line center the Isles need.)

Third and fourth place scorers for the Tigers are defensemen Matt Donovan and Jon Landry. Donovan led all AHL rookie D-men in scoring last season with 10 goals and 35 assists in 72 games played earning himself a trip to the AHL All-Star competition in Providence.

The Oklahoma native has been very hot lately and with 11 goals and 25 points in just 65 games so far this season it will be interesting to see if he can match or beat last years total. As it is Donovan sits in fifth place in scoring among active AHL blue-liners and his plus 12 rating leads all Sound Tigers by a wide margin.

Minor league and college seasons are ending so Sound Tigers’ equipment manager Leni DiCostanzo and his trusty singer sewing machine are busy stitching the names of newcomers to team sweaters. Sean Wiles (ECHL – Las Vegas Ramblers, U. of Alaska-Anchorage), Mike Keenan (Dartmouth) and Ben Rosen (Boston U.) have all laced them up and been productive while Joe Diamond (U. Maine) in his abbreviated time in the orange and blue already has a cult following.

 

Listed at 5’ 7” (a stretch of the truth) and 175 lbs. (an exaggeration), Diamond doesn’t consider himself vertically challenged and will mix it up with anyone willing to drop their gloves. He arrived in Bridgeport with an entourage of friends/fans from U. Maine, delighting them with a beaut of a goal during a shoot out and has posted two assists and been in two fights in his three games since. (Visit/like my FB page for a pic of Diamond's entourage and more.) 

Top prospects such as Ryan Strome, the Isles first selection in 2011 fifth overall, Anders Lee, Univ. Notre Dame, Brenden Kichton and others may soon be making their professional debuts in Bridgeport. It is always a great night when you have the opportunity to see a young player score their first professional point – priceless.

The final reason to show up would be to see Ken Reiter notch his paddle with his first victory. Reiter leads all Sound Tigers goalies in every statistical category less one. Nilsson, Poulin and DiPietro each have a shut out while Reiter has none though he did hold the Hershey Bears scoreless for three periods before giving up a goal 2’ 49” into overtime on March 16.

It may be that I don’t like to hear ‘fat-ladies’ sing (Kate Smith, Mama Cass and Adele being notable exceptions) or perhaps I’m just the eternal optimist, but there is still time. Seven of the teams’ remaining ten games are at home and whether or not they make the playoffs, there is still some great hockey being played in Bridgeport.

Go Tigers!!

 

-Mike Flannery

Follow me, @hockeyflan on Twitter and make sure to “like” The Checkingline-Isles edition on Facebook as well as on Twitter @TCLIsles to stay up to the minute with all the latest Islanders news and notes.

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