While the New York Islanders plans for the playoffs were not realized, their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers not only found their goal to be attainable, but last night, it was reached.
Last night, in Providence, the Tigers got three points from forward Rhett Rakhshani, and goaltender Kevin Poulin made 46 saves out of the 47 shots that he faced, in their 4-1 victory. The win, the 40th of the season, gave Bridgeport their first division championship since 2002.
The Sound Tigers are run by head coach Brent Thompson, who in his first year in Connecticut, has installed a winning attitude. Thompson, who won the Kelly Cup (ECHL) for the Alaska Aces last season, has taken the Islander system of play, and has all four lines rolling and involved.
Poulin, who has had a few cups of coffee with the big club, started his fourteenth consecutive game for the Tigers. Anders Nilsson, the backup goalie who has also seen time on the Island, is still out with an ankle injury but should be ready for the playoffs.
On the offensive side of the ledger, the Tigers have just two 20 goal scorers this season. Justin DiBenedetto has 20, and David Ullstrom has 24 to lead the team, despite playing only 36 games in the AHL, due to callups to the big club, and a concussion. The team has 10 other players with 10 or more goals, proving that they are spreading the wealth around the team. Rakhshani and Casey Cisikas lead the team in scoring, and they both has missed major time with the Tigers with injuries and time on Long Island. Rakhshani is averaging about a point a game, and should be ready for the next level in 2012-2013.
On defense, the Tigers have players with NHL experience. Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan, Dylan Reese, Calvin deHaan, and Ty Wishart have been Islander call ups over the past two seasons and in each of these cases, they have not disappointed. They all are close to NHL ready, as they prepare to take on the Whale on Thursday night in Bridgeport.
Tonight, the Tigers have a home and home series against the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Penguins in Pennsylvania, with the other end in Bridgeport tomorrow afternoon.
I will be covering the game, and will be twittering @islessection317. I will be using the #BST in my entries, and will write an article after the game. I will also be covering the first two games of the series. Hope to see you in Bridgeport. If you attend the game, send a twitter note, or you can reach me on Facebook too.