On Thursday night, Islanders’ fans had the opportunity to attend a hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. No, the New York Islanders weren’t playing, but the annual Blue & Orange Scrimmage gave Isles’ fans fifty-minutes of hockey (two twenty-five-minute periods) and a skills competition featuring the Islanders’ prospects.
Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and most of the players “within the system” competed in front of a Coliseum-crowd of nearly 5,200 fans who came to see some hockey in July. Based on the crowd’s reaction, I would say the prospects did a solid enough job to impress.
The first period was all about the Islanders’ top offensive prospects. Team Orange’s first line of Kirill Kabanov, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee was buzzing around the offensive zone, cycling the puck and creating scoring chances in front of Kenny Reiter, who earned the shutout during last year’s Blue & Orange Scrimmage. Lee made some noise by ringing a wrister off of the crossbar, and providing a great screen in front of Reiter, but his efforts would end with nothing to show for.
Instead, it would be Team Blue’s Joey Diamond, the Long Beach native, who would get the Islanders on the board first, converting a beautiful feed from Ryan Strome past Eamon McAdam, one of the Islanders’ 3rd-round picks in this year’s draft. Blue’s 1-0 lead would stand through the scrimmage’s first 25 minutes of play.
The ice would get the intermission treatment, and hockey would be under way minutes after to start the scrimmage’s second half.
Jason Clark would score less than one minute into the second period, capitalizing on a second Ryan Strome assist to push Blue to a 2-0 lead; however, Viktor Crus Rydberg would get Team Orange on the board a minute-and-a-half later. The crowd broke out into a drawn-out “CRUS” chant, similar to that of the New York Giants’ star Victor Cruz.
Ryan Strome would add his only goal, and final point, of the night, giving Team Blue the 3-1 lead midway through the second frame. The goal would stand as the game-winner.
Colton Beck would pull Orange within one on a penalty shot, but Riley Wetmore and Jason Clark would score two goals apiece, combining for four unanswered goals to finish regulation scoring at 6-2, in favor of Team Blue.
Again, I thought the prospects did enough to grab most Islanders’ fans attention. There’s a reason the Islanders’ prospects’ group is ranked second in the NHL by Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus, and most of us had a chance to witness why at this event.
- Notably absent were Casey Cizikas, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan and Anders Nilsson. Cizikas and de Haan, who have been in prospect camp, were never planned to be in today’s scrimmage. Anders Nilsson was “not physically ready,” according to Arthur Staple
- For every penalty, a penalty-shot was awarded. Only Jason Clark scored on one of these opportunities
- Mike Dalhuisen, the signing out of Quinnipiac back in April, won the Islanders’ hardest shot competition, clocking both of his slap-shots at 97 MPH. Ryan Pulock, the Islanders’ first round pick in 2013, reached 93 MPH
- Scott Mayfield and Andrey Pedan were paired on defense tonight, and they played very well together for Team Blue
- Griffin Reinhart wasn’t overly noticeable, but he did win a few battles against Ryan Strome in his own zone.