Sound Tigers Suffer First Loss

 

This afternoon the New York Islanders announced that Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach, Brent Thompson, would become the Islanders new assistant coach. Coach Thompson, like many others, began his coaching career after years of playing the game himself. Selected 34th overall by the LA Kings in the 1989 entry-level draft, Thompson (‘Tommer’, his ice name) played 121 games in the NHL with the Kings and Winnipeg Jets organizations. He also played for six different AHL teams in his 14 years as a player before beginning his career as a coach.

After serving four years as an assistant coach with the Peoria Rivermen in the AHL, he was given the head coaching position with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. In the 2009-10 season, his first as head coach, the Aces won their division and lost in the first round of the playoffs. During his second year in Alaska, the team once again won their division. This time they didn’t lose in the first round, or the next and finished the season as league champions and winners of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup. Coach Thompson was winner of the John Brophy Award as the ECHL’s Coach Of The Year that season, his last in the ECHL, and moved up to the AHL a proven winner.

When he came to Bridgeport to take over leadership of the Sound Tigers he was returning to the state where some ten years earlier he had won another award. After the 1998-99 season as a player for the Hartford Wolfpack, ‘Tommer” received the AHL’s Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as ‘man of the year for service to his local community’, a winner once again.

While what he had accomplished in Alaska was noteworthy, what he was able to do in his first year as head coach in the AHL was remarkable. In Alaska, Thompson was taking over a team that had been successful the year before. In Bridgeport he was to lead a team that had finished last in their division, last in their conference and 29th of 30 teams in entire league. He was also asked to do this without an ECHL affiliate to draw talent from when the inevitable injuries and call-ups came.

Once again he showed himself a winner by bringing Bridgeport its first division championship in ten years. Like Alaska, however, the Tigers would lose in the opening round of the playoffs. Coach doesn't like to lose, he actually hates to lose and the season left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Every player on this years team will tell you that they have never worked so hard in practice. Each of them will tell you how much they enjoyed their time in Bridgeport. They will all tell you the have never played on a team with so much heart and character. They will tell you how disappointed they were with how the season ended and the bitter taste it left them.

Coach taught them and drove them to work hard and push harder. He strengthened their hearts and developed their character. He did this with every player on the team. He and the team ended the season winners, winners everyone of them.

The Islanders did a lot to improve their defense at this years NHL draft, they accomplished even more with today's move.

Best of Luck, 'Tommer', you will be missed in Bridgeport and around the AHL.

 

- Mike Flannery

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