Sound Tigers Second Semester
While the Islanders are about to begin their season, the Sound Tigers have reached their half way mark. After 38 games played the Tigers have a record of 18 wins, 16 losses, 2 losses in overtime and 2 losses via the shoot out. (Photo: Dave Csordas)
The forty points the team has gained in the process leaves them in second place behind the Springfield Falcons in a weak Northeast Division and tied for eighth place (the final playoff spot) in the conference, a better start to the New Year than last, but disappointing in what could have been. Eighty points did not get you to the playoff round last year and it is doubtful this year will be different.
The Sound Tigers, like every team in the AHL, started the season with an unexpected wealth of talent. Niedereitter, Ullstrom and Cizikas, whom most had expected to be in the NHL, were back in Bridgeport along with prospects Brock Nelson, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson and Kirill Kabanov. Scoring goals should not prove a problem.
In net, both Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson were still on the roster, while most had expected one to get called up to serve as Nabokov’s back up on the Isles. Poulin and Nilsson had each earned ‘AHL Goalie Of The Month’ awards during the teams Division Championship season and there was doubtfully no more promising tender tandem in the league. No problem.
The blue line is where the Tigers were expected to excel. Proven top two blue-liner Travis Hamonic would join veterans Ty Wishart and Jon Landry to help further the development of talented Calvin de Haan, Aaron Ness and Matt Donovan, one or more expected to ‘make it ‘ out of a camp never held. Solid.
The scoring has come as expected. Even with various injuries that attend every season, the Sound Tigers 121 goals scored ranks second only to the conference leader (and defending Calder Cup Champion) Syracuse Crunch and their 125 goals.
The Bridgeport team is also second behind conference leaders Syracuse in penalty minutes, Tigers 856 PIMS to Syracuse 946. The Sound Tigers have dedicated themselves, as a team, to the physical play that HC Scott Pellerin and the Islanders are looking for and while the games are fast and fun to watch that style is a double-edged sword.
Too often the Tigers have either filled the penalty box with blue and orange or followed one penalty immediately after another resulting in long extended penalty kills. Though in the top five on converted power play opportunities in the AHL for most of the season, the penalty kill is about mid range giving the team the distinction of allowing the most goals (125) in the entire league so far this season.
Both Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin have given up soft goals this year. Each also has a shutout to his credit, and the fact that the team leads the league in ‘goals against’ is largely a result of the extended power kill minutes each goalie has faced and a defense that has committed far too many turn overs.
There is one half of a season left for the Sound Tigers and every point taken in the next few weeks will be worth two points come March and April. The same can be said for the Islanders who actually do have a chance to raise one more banner in Nassau.
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