In the fourth season of the franchise, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, missed the playoffs for the first time. This can be attributed to two things; injuries and the inability to win on the road. Bridgeport finished the season with a record of 37-38-4-1 with 27 wins coming on home ice. However, the Islanders prospects played well. Even though injuries sidelined nearly every player at some time, the team put forth an impressive showing against some of the league’s top teams. Here is a look at how the prospects of the New York Islanders played this season for the Sound Tigers.
Chris Campoli – Taken in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the 20-year-old North York, Ontario native has already paid dividends for New York. The 6’0 190-pound rookie finished the season sixth in rookie scoring and first among rookie defensemen with 49 points leading to an AHL All-Rookie team selection. Campoli ended the season fourth overall in scoring by all AHL defensemen and third overall among defensemen in goals (15) including seven goals on the power play and two shorthanded. Campoli does the small things it takes to win in hockey. He passes quickly and sees the play well. A product of the Erie Otters of the OHL, he finished a team high +13 on a team that finished 22nd out of 28 teams in the AHL. Campoli is durable playing in 79 out of 80 games, mostly with Bruno Gervais as his defensive partner.
Ryan Caldwell – Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the 23-year-old from Deloraine, Manitoba started his professional career this season after four years at the University of Denver and a national championship in his senior season. In 73 games, the 6’3 195-pound Caldwell, posted 21 points (2 goals, 19 assists) for Bridgeport. Caldwell, a stay at home defensemen, did not play well defensively in his rookie season, finishing with a -16. Caldwell hits hard and does not take many shots. He is disciplined taking only 65 penalty minutes.
Bruno Gervais – The 20-year-old from Loungeuil, Quebec played solidly for Bridgeport in 76 games this season. A sixth round draft pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Islanders, Gervais scored 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists) mostly paired with Chris Campoli. The rookie plays confidently on the power play scoring four goals and is solid on the penalty kill also scoring two goals. Gervais finished the season with an even plus/minus rating. The 6’1 195-pounder is continuing to fill out physically and work on his skating.
Vincent Macri – The 6’3 210-pounder split time between Bridgeport where he played 27 games and Atlantic City of the ECHL where he played 49 games in his first full season of pro hockey. The rookie, a native of Durham, NH, managed one point in his time in the AHL. He took only four penalty minutes with the Sound Tigers, as opposed to 99 penalty minutes in the ECHL.
Sean Bergenheim – The 21-year-old from Helsinki, Finland played well in his first full season of North American hockey. At 5’11 194 pounds, Bergenheim is undersized so he relies on his speed and puck handling to beat the opponent. He has powerful strength in his lower body. The first round draft pick of the Islanders in 2002 (22nd overall), Bergenheim scored 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 61 games leading to a selection to PlanetUSA in the AHL All-Star Classic. Bergenheim played the first quarter of the 2003-04 season with the Islanders scoring one goal and adding a helper for two points in 18 career NHL games. Bergenheim’s future looks good, but he may have to add more size to be able to compete better in the future.
Justin Mapletoft – The 6’1 202-pounder was set for a fourth line center role on Long Island, but the lockout landed him back in Bridgeport. The Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native recorded 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) good for third on the team. The 24-year old Mapletoft is a solid two-way player with a quick shot. He is dangerous in front of the net. Mapletoft is a valuable asset to his team. In the 61 games he played, the Sound Tigers went 33-25-3-0. In the 19 games Mapletoft missed due to an injury to his right wrist suffered in a game Dec. 10 against Manchester, Bridgeport only managed four wins. Mapletoft is a grinder, but he can play a good technical game. He is disciplined, only taking 51 penalty minutes during the season. Mapletoft has played 38 games with the Islanders over the last two seasons, recording nine points.
Steve Regier – The 20-year-old from Spruce Grove, Alberta played well in his rookie season. Regier led all Sound Tigers’ rookie forwards with 22 points (7 goals, 22 assists.) A product of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, Regier was drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Islanders. At 6’5 191 pounds, Regier gives the Sound Tigers a physical presence. He is not afraid to get involved in rough play, yet has become more disciplined than he was in junior hockey. Regier took only 43 penalty minutes in 75 games for Bridgeport. Regier took 111 penalty minutes in 72 games in his final season in juniors. Regier ended the season with a +6 plus/minus rating, tied for second on the team and best among forwards. Regier will continue to develop in Bridgeport in the near future.
Blaine Down – The 22-year-old played only 29 games this season due to injury. The Oshawa, Ontario native, in his third season of pro hockey, all with Bridgeport, recorded six points (4 goals, 2 assists) and 34 penalty minutes in limited action this season. Down suffered a concussion on Nov. 27 at Worcester, causing him to miss 13 games over the next month and a half. Down returned, only to be injured again in a game against Hartford on Jan. 30 when a hit in the corner broke three cervical vertebras. He recovered ahead of schedule and returned in March. At 5’11 182 pounds, Down has offensive talent and is a leader. He will need to recover from his injuries to be effective. Down is undersized but he shows determination and has the potential to be a goal scorer.
Matt Koalska – Originally a draft pick of the Nashville Predators, the 24-year-old St. Paul, Minnesota native signed with the Islanders prior to the 2004-2005 season. In his rookie season, Koalska played 60 games and recorded 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) for Bridgeport. Koalska missed 14 games this season due to a fractured foot he suffered in a game against Binghamton on Nov. 25. The 5’11 190-pounder has a lot of potential. He is not a goal scorer, but is a playmaker. He has big game experience also. While playing at the University of Minnesota on a line with Rochester’s Thomas Vanek, he won two consecutive national championships. Koalska is a good puck-handler and will continue to develop in Bridgeport after a good rookie season.
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