Sound Tigers Playoff Push
The thirty-eight inches of snow deposited in Milford by a blizzard named ‘Nemo’ forced the AHL and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to cancel a weekend of hockey at the Webster Bank Arena. Pay-loaders, bob-cats, backhoes and shovels that were used in late October to remove the sand left on East Broadway by a hurricane named ‘Sandy’ were pressed back into service for snow removal.
Schedules, plans, and lives were put on hold while streets were being cleared, and some of the sand collected in the fall was placed back on the roads so we could return to our normal daily routines. The Sound Tigers returned to their schedule on Tuesday evening when they hosted the conference leading Springfield Falcons after an unprecedented ten-day layoff. The obvious question was, ‘How would the team perform after all that down time?’
After Springfield scored just 46 seconds into the first period it looked like it would be a long night for the home team, but they fought back taking the game to overtime when John Persson deflected Matt Donovan’s left-point shot at 2:46 in ending the game with his sixteenth netter of the season. (Game recap by CT Post’s Mike Fornabaio, Photo by Pope Steve XXVII)
The Sound Tigers have thirty games left in the season and sit in tenth place in the division two spots removed from a playoff berth. The way the schedule was laid out, Bridgeport will play ten three-in-three’s during the season and it is a back-loaded schedule.
Four 3/3’s were played in the first eighteen weeks and six are scheduled in the next ten, which would physically challenge any professional athlete. Veterans of an AHL season or two know what to expect and how to deal with it but players new to this regimen will be tested and tested hard, how they respond to the challenge will determine the teams success.
Three young stars, whose ice-time will be closely monitored by the HC Scott Pellerin and his coaching staff, have recently returned (or are about to return) from injury. Brock Nelson – Isles 2010 1st rd. pick, Johan Sundstrom – 2nd rd. 2011 and Kirill Kabanov - 2010 3rd rd. have each shown the potential to compete for a spot up top.
Nelson, who suffered a fractured jaw when he took a puck to the face in the teams’ mid-January trip to Norfolk, is now skating without the ‘fishbowl’ full-face protector and continues to show he was worthy of the Islanders selection at #30 in the 2010 draft. If he doesn’t get a look by the Isles this season you can certainly expect him to impress at camp this summer.
Sundstrom is still listed as ‘day-to-day’ by the team after taking a hit high in the first period of a game Jan.19 against Binghamton. His first year on North American ice has not been a problem for the young Swede and his numbers (11g-14a in 39 games) are solid. Most impressive is his team leading +10, a pretty good number for a player on a team that leads the conference in goals allowed.
Kabanov (Photo by Dave Csordas) missed three months of his first year with the team when his left wrist was sliced open by a skate in the fourth game of the season. A serious injury that required surgery to repair, he is just now getting back to form. While he has yet to put up big numbers he is the most exciting player to watch on the ice. Every shift he gets catches your attention and his production will no doubt grow as he develops.
This summers Islander training camp will be worthy of an HBO 24/7 production with competition at every position and you can count on several current Sound Tigers making more than a cameo appearance.
Bridgeport Born – Brooklyn Bound!
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