Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2011-12 season preview

By HF Staff
Photo: Goaltender Anders Nilsson will be expected to compete for the starting job in Bridgeport this season. (Photo courtesy of www.Eliteprospects.com)

The Tigers took a minor step back in 2010-11 after reaching the playoffs during their 2009-10 campaign. It was a season full of change as their head coach, Jack Capuano, was pulled up to take over the struggling Islanders squad. There is no doubt that they have the talent possible to turn it around this year and make a run in the playoffs.

Forwards

Rob Hisey is the only forward in the top five in scoring that is one hundred percent gone this upcoming season. On the other hand, three more of top five have a solid chance at making the Islanders. Those players include Rhett Rakhshani, David Ullstrom, and Justin DiBenedetto. All of these players will be given a shot to make the Islanders, but most likely at least two of these players will return to the Tigers. If they return they will definitely be relied on heavily to put pucks in the net.

Jeremy Colliton is a lock to return next year; he scored 18 goals and set up 27 others in only 53 games last season. Tim Wallace was signed as a free agent during this past offseason and is coming off a very solid year, scoring 20 goals and setting up 17 others playing in 62 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Another player who is likely to join the team is Casey Cizikas who had a great showing playing for Canada in the WJC last year.


Defense

Matt Donovan is likely to start the season with Tigers and played great in a six game stint at the end of last season. In his short stint he scored one goal and added four more assists. He will be relied on heavily to anchor a very weak defensive core. Another player who is likely to return is Mark Katic who led all defensemen in scoring last season.

Anton Klementyev will also play a big role on the back-end for the Tigers. He is a shutdown defensemen who will likely continue to play big minutes again next year.

Goaltending

The goaltending was very unstable last year with Mikko Koskinen leading the way with 36 starts. He posted a save percentage under .900 percent and only won 12 of his 36 starts. His goals against average was well over three as well. On the other hand, Kevin Poulin played great when he was not playing up with the Islanders. He won 10 of his 15 starts posting an impressive 2.19 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. With the Islanders current goaltending situation he could very well end up being the clubs number one goaltender at the start of the season.

Anders Nilsson is coming over from a dominating season in the SEL. He led the league with an outstanding 1.92 goals against average. The goaltending carousel within the organization is always changing so anything can be expected.


Coaching

Jack Capuano was called up to the Islanders to take over after the firing of Scott Gordon. Pat Bingham took the reigns after and Matt Bertani remained the only assistant coach to end the season. This summer they hired Brent Thompson to act as head coach. The organization also brought in Eric Boguniecki as an assistant coach.  As a player, Boguniecki appeared 178 NHL games recording 76 points in those games. He played 48 games for the Tigers in the 2006-07 season scoring 22 goals and adding 32 assists. During that season he played 11 games for the Islanders.

Prospects

The three most recent prospects to be cut from training camp were Tomas Marcinko, Ty Wishart, and Dylan Reese. All of these players must clear waivers. The most surprising is Wishart who was acquired in the Dwayne Roloson trade last season. He was the Islanders thirteenth ranked prospect. If these players clear waivers they will start the season in Bridgeport.

Two players have really shined during training camp and preseason this year and it should not come as any surprise those players are Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome. Both have put themselves head and shoulders above the other forward prospects with both their improved consistency and dazzling plays. It will definitely be the right decision to send Strome back to juniors for some more seasoning. They do not want to rush him like they did with Josh Bailey.

Casey Cizikas also has made a statement thus far scoring two goals in the rookie game. He will likely start the season in Bridgeport.

Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan have both been receiving lots of minutes on the back-end this preseason and have performed very well. It is very likely that one of them could earn a spot on the Islanders to start the season.

Goaltender Anders Nilsson saw his first NHL action in the third period of their preseason game against the Boston Bruins. He did not fare well and gave up four goals in those twenty minutes. That is to be expected in his first NHL appearance, other than this small setback he has looked very poised. He sounds committed to staying in North Americas so he will likely start the season in Bridgeport. Kevin Poulin looked great so far this season. He played very good in his last appearance stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced. With the logjam of goaltenders in the fold it is impossible to know what will happen with Poulin.

Other prospects receiving playing time so far this preseason includes: David Ullstrom, Kirill Kabanov, Rhett Rakhshani and Justin DiBenedetto. All of these players have a slight shot at making the team, but will likely be sent back to Bridgeport.

Article was written by Josh Buckingham.