David Ullstrom won the game for the Sound Tigers last night against Springfield, but failed to register a point in today’s game against Worcester. (Photo: Anastasia Reilly/flickr)
Bridgeport was able to best Springfield 3-2 on a shootout winner by David Ullstrom on Saturday night, but Worcester once again got the better of them today, 5-2, leaving Bridgeport 1-2-0-0 on the road trip.
Some notes on both games, as I wasn’t able to watch either of them:
Brandon DeFazio and Nino Niederreiter continue to make a difference on this Sound Tigers offense. They were the goal scorers during Springfield’s game, and Niederreiter leads the team with six points in six games (four goals, two assists).
Kenny Reiter got the start against Worcester today and made 41 saves on 46 shots. Five goals allowed or not, that’s still pretty damn good.
It took seven shootout rounds to beat the Falcons on Saturday night. Whew.
Penalties continue to be an issue for Bridgeport. Today saw 26 minutes in PIM, ten of them from fighting (DeFazio and Brett Gallant each dropped the gloves). Last night there were 17 minutes in penalties (only one fight, though). The AHL is certainly a different animal from the NHL, but the Tigers have to stay out of the box. The Sharks burned them for two PPG today.
Colin McDonald and Jordan Hill (on a tryout contract with BST) were the goal scorers today in Worcester.
You can read the recaps here and here. Next game for the Sound Tigers is on Saturday at 7, when they face off at home against the Hershey Bears.
Brock Nelson was Bridgeport’s lone scorer, his goal cutting a three-goal Sharks lead. Five different Sharks players scored on Kevin Poulin, who suffered his first loss of the season with 27 saves. Alex Stalock stopped 17 of 18 in what turned out to be an easier night for him.
I couldn’t watch this game, but reading the recap and looking at the boxscore, I can tell just what kind of night the Sound Tigers had. You can’t get a win with only 18 shots on goal. And you can’t get a good start with 22 minutes in penalties. That’s just not going to happen. The Sound Tigers had a chance to come back with Nelson’s goal in the third, but the time spent in the box killed their hopes, as Worcester was able to score two power-play goals (one of them on a 5-on-3 chance).
Bridgeport continues its road stint in Massachusetts against Springfield tomorrow night at 7. Better luck this time, boys.
Notes: Bridgeport recalled goalie Kenny Reiter from Fort Wayne of the ECHL. The 25-year-old rookie is leading the ECHL in GAA and save percentage. …The Sound Tigers began a three-game-in-three-night swing tonight. After tomorrow’s game against Springfield, they’re back in Worcester to attempt a win once again. … Worcester earned their first win of the season tonight. They are now 1-3-0-1 on the season.
The Islanders will be keeping the “New York” in their name after all.
Owner Charles Wang announced today during a press conference that the Isles will be moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn following the expiration of their lease with Nassau Coliseum in 2015. The lease with the Barclays is for an iron-clad 25 years (meaning there is no opt-out clause), extending through the 2039-2040 NHL season.
Lubomir Visnovsky and Slovan Bratislava look to rebound from an ugly 6-0 loss to Severstal last week. (Photo: Clyde/flickr)
It’s been a while since we’ve looked at how the boys are doing overseas, so let’s do that, shall we?
SC Bern has been reeling a little bit. After beating HC Davos 6- 3, they won 4-3 against the SCL Tigers, then dropped their next two against EHC Biel and the Zurich SC Lions. John Tavares has nine points (four goals, five assists) in seven games played, while Mark Streit has fallen off a bit on his point-per-game pace with eight in eleven (four goals, four assists, including a goal scored against the Lions). Bern plays next against the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers on Tuesday (10/23).
Rauman Lukko is still toward the bottom of the standings with 20 points in 15 games played — regulation wins are three points in the SM-liiga, not two — but Frans Nielsen has been on point with his playmaking. He has nine points, in fact, all assists, in eight games, and has been very disciplined with only 2 PIM. He and Rauman Lukko play the Blues next, also on Tuesday.
Villacher SV has suffered a couple of crushing losses in the past couple of games, including an 8-4 blowout against HC Orli Znojmo and a 6-3 loss against the EHC Linz Black Wings. Michael Grabner is tearing it up on the top line wing with five points (3 G, 2 A) in his four games played. VSV plays EC KAC on Friday (10/26).
HC Energie Karlovy Vary came away with a 5-3 win today against Ceske Budejovice, its second in a row. Andrew MacDonald has two assists in four games and is a -2. Karlovy Vary plays Trinec next on Tuesday (Tuesday night is popular with the Euro teams, I see). Fun fact: Dustin Kohn, who suited up for 22 games with the Isles in 2009-10 following an Andy Sutton suspension, is the only other Canadian on this team.
SC Riessersee is 1-9. Got that? Good. Their only win came during their season opener against Eispiraten Crimmitschau. Their latest loss came in the shootout against the SERC Wild Wings. (Sounds like a bar/grill I know.) Rick DiPietro posted a 3.03 GAA in his one game played against the Landshut Cannibals on Oct. 14 — and no, as far as I know, he did not get hurt, fortunately. Riessersee doesn’t play against till next Sunday (10/28) against the Fischtown Pinguins. (No, not Penguins. Pinguins. I love Germany.)
Lubomir Visnovsky has three points in eight games for HC Slovan Bratislava, two of them goals (none of them PPG, unfortunately). Slovan beat Neftehkimik 5-4 in the shootout and lost against Salavat Yulaev in similar fashion, 3-2, then lost their last game miserably against Severstal, 6-0, on Oct. 17 and don’t play against until — you guessed it — Tuesday, against CSKA Moscow. It’s so much easier to get KHL info, by the way, mainly because they have an English-language website that is a Godsend. Whew.
Finally, here’s a name we missed — Jesse Joensuu has been playing with Assat Pori in the SM-liiga (whose name translates to “Aces”, at least according to Google). The Aces won their last game against Ilves 6-1, snapping a three-game losing streak and scoring the bulk of their goals in the third period. Joensuu has done his part, with 15 points (8 G, 7 A) in 13 games. They face off against HIFK on Friday.
Swedish forward Johan Sundstrom scored his first goal in North America and the AHL last night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. (Photo: Bridget Samuels/flickr)
The “Swede” line — Johan Sundstrom, David Ullstrom, and John Persson — finally clicked, combining for two goals last night and helping the Sound Tigers to a solid 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the Penguins’ home opener.
The scoring started in the back half of the first period, with Sundstrom being the lucky recipient of a carom off the endboards from a missed shot by Ty Wishart. The goal was Sundstrom’s first in North America. Nino Niederreiter added to the lead in the last two minutes, pushing the puck past Brad Theissen off a bad bounce.
In the second period, momentum swung in the Penguins’ favor, and they managed to capitalize. Riley Holzapfel cut the lead in half on a rebound by Poulin, after KP had made a couple of great saves. Persson got that goal back with another late-period tally for the Sound Tigers, and his goal stood up as the game-winner after Eric Tangradi pulled WBS to within one. The Swede line finished with a combined four points and +5 (Sundstrom with a goal, Ullstrom with an assist, and Persson with one of each).
Kevin Poulin was once again the goaltending hero, making 34 saves and withstanding a strong offensive push from the Penguins. Theissen finished with 19 saves. WBS ended up out-shooting Bridgeport 36-22, but they remain winless.
The Sound Tigers continue their road trip against the Worcester Sharks on Fri.,Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. and it might be without defenseman Calvin de Haan, who left in the last minute of the game with an as-of-yet undisclosed issue. No word of it on the Sound Tigers’ Web site or Twitter account, so here’s to hoping it was either a minor issue or one related to equipment (though of course, that’s rarely the case). De Haan has spent time on IR in the past for shoulder injuries.
You can view the Sound Tigers’ recap here, and another piece by Michael Fornabaio of the CT Post here.
The Islanders have lost another three games to the 2012-13 season, putting their opener on Nov. 2 against Carolina. (Photo: Doug Kerr/flickr)
The NHL announced the cancellation of games up until Nov. 1, in the wake of somewhat-stalled negotiations (surprise, surprise) between the league and its Players’ Association. This means that the Islanders’ season would begin on Nov. 2 in Raleigh against the Hurricanes if an agreement were to be made within the month.
The loss of an entire month’s worth of games was expected, but still not what NHL fans want to hear. Scores of fans have taken to social media to complain about the lack of progress after a brief period of hope following the league’s newest proposal. The pressure should be on now, as there is a limited time frame to try and make up the games that have already been lost.
Brandon DeFazio (center, #24) has done his fair share of rough-and-tumble play, but has recently shown a scoring touch as well. Can he keep it up? (Photo: M Richter/flickr)
The Sound Tigers have cruised to a 2-0 start, relying on the strength of their goaltending for the bulk of their last game. Now, they face off Saturday night against an opponent still looking for their first win.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 0-2 in their 2012-13 campaign so far, after making it to the conference semis in 2011-12. The Penguins haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted offensively, having been outscored by a 2:1 ratio (goalie Jeff Zatkoff allowed four goals in their last game against Springfield). Their entire team is a -20 overall. Penalties also remain a problem — the Penguins committed 16 infractions for 42 total PIM in two games alone.
Meanwhile, offense doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for Bridgeport — players on both sides of the puck have been contributing to the score sheet. Nino Niederreiter has led the way with four points so far, finding excellent chemistry on the top line with Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald. Winger Brandon DeFazio has also been a nice surprise, with two goals and an assist in two games. Look for them to continue their contributions.
The one thing Bridgeport needs to work on is keeping the pressure on for a full three periods. In both of their games, they have either sat back or taken penalties, and in that time opponents have mounted comebacks. The Penguins can capitalize on this — in fact, they did tie things up at 2 in the third period against the Falcons at one point, capitalizing on power-play opportunities, no less. The Sound Tigers have to focus on staying out of the box tomorrow night. Kevin Poulin has been excellent in net so far (.903 save %, 3.03 GAA), but they cannot rely only on him to carry the workload late in the game. Meanwhile, Jeff Zatkoff has been a bit embattled, allowing six goals in his two games played.
I unfortunately will probably not watch this game, but I’ll be keeping track of it, for sure. Bridgeport got excellent offensive opportunities last time around against Providence — it’s all a matter of finishing them off and staying hungry.
Rick DiPietro would be the obvious target of a hypothetical amnesty buyout for most Isles fans. But what exactly would that mean? (Photo: Mike Durkin/flickr)
The NHL’s newest offer to the NHLPA included all sorts of goodies — a 50/50 split of HRR, a five-year cap on contracts and a set date for puck drop (Nov. 2). It also had some not-so-nice elements, including increasing arbitration eligibility to five years, but lowering entry-level deals to two (meaning if you’re a nondescript rookie, you’re basically your team’s puppet).
One thing it lacked is an interesting idea that could very well help out struggling teams… like the Islanders, for example.
The Isles have already bought out Alexei Yashin (and guess what? We’ve only got three years left on that contract, woo-hoo!). There is one other mistake on their books, though, and it’s named Rick DiPietro. We all know about him.
Regardless of his heart and his willingness to play on Long Island, the Massachusetts-born goalie hasn’t been a sure bet to play for the last four seasons. Meanwhile, he’s been collecting a hefty $4.5M paycheck (guaranteed should he retire in case of injury, by the way — this guy’s agent wasn’t dumb).
Of course, when you’ve been under the cap floor year after year, this may not seem like a horrible thing, but consider the fact that DiPietro’s played 47 games in his four seasons bouncing on and off the IR list and you may be asking where the scissors are. There’s no NTC or NMC involved, but there doesn’t have to be — with those numbers, you’d be hard pressed to find a team who wants him. The Isles would simply have to buy him out or continue trying to pretend the albatross can fly.
This is where the amnesty clause comes in. The NHL’s general managers reportedly asked the league to consider including it in the new CBA around February of this year. It allows for a one-time buyout of a roster player without that player’s salary counting against the cap. This would certainly help teams other than the Isles, including the Sabres (almost $11M over the cap and paying Ville Leino about the same as we’re paying DP), the Maple Leafs (Mike Komisarek, anyone?), and of course, Scott Go- er, the Canadiens.
It’s already been in place and used in the NBA — the Los Angeles Clippers bought out Ryan Gomes in late July. Gomes was paid in full, but as stated before, his salary came off the books. Gomes also entered a bidding pool where teams with cap space could claim him. If no one does claim a player in this process, he becomes a UFA.
Seems pretty simple, right? Well, it probably isn’t, but for fans of teams who have Rick DiPietro-like contracts on their payrolls, it’s music to the ears.
This is what potentially buying out DiPietro next June would look like, according to capgeek.com. A $1.5M/yr payout for 16 years… good Lord. The Isles could be a completely new team and still be paying that man. In a case like this, though the Islanders still save money, it’d be nice to be able to make that hit vanish forever. But does it come at the cost of guaranteeing a full contract? And are top goalie prospects Anders Nilsson and/or Kevin Poulin ready to step into the role of either backup or starter just yet, or would Garth Snow have to lure another veteran goalie as a stop-gap (probably)?
Also, look at it from DP’s point of view — right now, he at least has some kind of job security, knowing that as long as he wants to be an Islander, this team will keep paying him. If the amnesty clause somehow becomes a possibility and the Isles use it, what happens to him? A wallet full of cash, sure, but also the end to a career he definitely doesn’t want to be rid of so soon. If the past four years are any indication, he is competitive and wants to play (and win) more than anything.
Of course, this is all speculation. The NHL and NHLPA are set to meet today, and by the time you read this, everything may well have changed. And Isles fans have likely fantasized about buying out DP with or without amnesty since his third operation. This is just a little something that would have made it a little easier for us to swallow.
I leave you with a video I found thanks to Dee Karl of Hockeybuzz featuring an interview with DiPietro on a German-language talk show. DP’s answers are in English, but dubbed in German and the interviewer speaks exclusively German, so the overall effect is a little weird. But at least Ricky knows he has a chance at a career in Germany if the last nine years of his contract don’t work out as planned. (And if he stays healthy for that long.) Enjoy:
Kevin Poulin continued his solid play against Providence tonight, stopping 29 of 31 shots in a 4-2 Bridgeport win. (Photo: Anastasia Reilly/flickr)
Bridgeport needed a solid effort from goaltender Kevin Poulin, but ultimately managed to win their home opener in a 4-2 decision over Providence.
Once again, the Sound Tigers gave up an early lead. Maxime Sauve put the Bruins ahead at 7:39 of the first period, and it wasn’t until late in the opening frame that Bridgeport was able to come back. But Brandon DeFazio managed to score his second goal in two games, this one shorthanded, at 17:34.
Nino Niederreiter carried over that momentum by scoring on the power play early in the second period. From that point on, it was nearly all Bridgeport, though Providence managed to get a couple of good chances that Poulin was equal to.
Jon Landry’s goal at 5:51 of the third period added to the lead, but the Bruins struck out hard after that, killing nearly an entire penalty inside the Sound Tigers’ own zone and testing Poulin and the defense. Craig Cunningham managed to cut the lead down to 3-2 with his goal at 11:15, but at that point KP shut the door. He finished with 29 saves, and earned the first star of the game for his efforts. Matt Watkins scored an empty-netter to ice the game in Bridgeport’s favor.
This game was tight, and Bridgeport had to work hard to preserve the win (as they did with Connecticut). While it’s refreshing to see KP play so well, especially considering he wasn’t even supposed to start this match — he took over for Anders Nilsson who was feeling under the weather — the skaters in front of him need to be more supportive and keep their opponents from getting a lot of space in front of him. Penalties also remain a problem.
At the very least, this game adds another two points to the Sound Tigers’ tally. They face off next against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next Saturday, Oct. 20, as part of a four-game road trip. You can view the full boxscore here, and the BST game recap once it becomes available on soundtigers.com.
Casey Cizikas scored his first two goals of the season in the Sound Tigers’ high-scoring win over Connecticut. (Photo: TheAHL/flickr)
In what was a topsy-turvy evening to say the least, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers finally escaped with a 6-4 win over the Connecticut Whale in their season opener in Hartford.
The Whale jumped out to a 2-0 lead during the first period on goals by Kris Newbury and Kyle Jean (penalty shot), but in the second and third frame, the Tigers dominated with a six-goal rally spearheaded by Casey Cizikas (two goals) and Nino Niederreiter (one goal, two assists). Brock Nelson, John Persson and Brandon DeFazio also scored, and Kirill Kabanov earned his first two AHL points (both assists).
In the third period, after some incredible work to limit the Whale’s chances and keep them hemmed in their own zone, Bridgeport slipped up just a bit. Some undisciplined play led to power play chances for Connecticut, which allowed Mike Vernace to score on a 5-on-3 and Newbury to score his second PPG of the night. Bridgeport would rebound, however, keeping the Whale to the outside and being aggressive on the puck, and seal the win.
The Sound Tigers had lots of contribution in terms of scoring; six different players had multiple points tonight, among them the aforementioned Niederreiter but also defenseman Travis Hamonic (three assists). It was a shooting gallery for each of the goalies, but each held steady. Poulin finished with 27 saves on 31 shots, while Jason Missiaen was peppered but stopped 33 shots over two period. Scott Stajcer stopped six of seven in relief during the third period. (complete stats here)
You can read the Sound Tigers’ official recap here, and check out the current roster here. They play again tomorrow night against Providence in their home opener at 7 pm, and the Islanders’ website will be broadcasting the game (as it did tonight).