The AHL season has begun as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers took on the Providence Bruins in the 2021 season opener. The New York Islanders affiliate is hoping to have a much-improved season even if they’ll only play 24 times this year.
In 19-20, the Sound Tigers were the worst team in the league with 53 points from a 23-33-5-2 record. Their 152 goals-for was also the worst in the AHL that year while their 206 goals against were third-worst. So all around, not a good time for the Sound Tigers in 19-20.
The Sound Tigers played out their opening game to a 3-1 loss. Here are some key takeaways from the game and the roster.
Takeaways from New York Islanders AHL affiliate 2021 season debut
Opening with a Loss
The Sound Tigers played well enough to get something out of this one. They pressed hard early in the game and had the Bruins pinned in their own zone for lengthy periods. They deserved to be up a goal after one but, as with much of the game, Jeremy Swayman was excellent between the pipes.
Much like their parent club, the Sound Tigers lack a bit of quality up top to convert chances into goals. The team works hard enough to carve out chances.
The Sound Tigers ended up with a larger roster after camp. The team added goalie Ken Appleby to the team. Appleby spent the 19-20 season playing for the Florida Everglades (ECHL) where he put up an impressive 27-8-5 record and averaged a 2.39GAA and 0.913SV%.
Other than that, everyone on the training camp squad made the final team.
The opening day roster was:
Notable exclusions are (Forwards) Andrew Ladd, Blade Jenkins, Cole Coskey, Arnaud Durandeau, Yannick Turcotte, Nick Pastujov, (defense) Mike Cornell, Bode Wilde, Adam Brubacher, (goalies) Francis Marotte, Ken Appleby.
I’d expect a number of those players to feature in the lineup soon. Specifically, that crop of Islanders draft picks. The team needs to know what they have with guys like Coskey, Jenkins, Pastujov who are making their pro debut after signing AHL deals from juniors.
No Bode Wilde
This is supposed to be a big year for Bode Wilde. The Islanders other 2018 second-round pick is going to stick with the pros all year in 2021 and should factor heavily for the Sound Tigers.
But Wilde wasn’t in the lineup for the Sound Tigers opening game. The Sound Tigers opted for Mitchell Vande Sompel, Grant Hutton, and Ryan MacKinnon on the right side.
The Sound Tigers know all about MacKinnon who’s been with the team since last year. He’s a player the team likes and had a standout camp leading up to the opener said Sound Tigers, Brent Thompson:
"He’s really improved through the course of time I’ve got to know him. His practice habits have been more and more consistent and (they are) especially standing out … right now.”"
I would imagine this is all but temporary and that Thompson will rotate Wilde into the lineup with relative frequency as the shortened AHL season rolls on.
Jakub Skarek Solid
Jakub Skarek might have finished with a 0.900SV% on the evening (stopping 27 of 30 shots). On a number of occasions early in the game, he bailed out his team with a number of timely stops.
I know that the Islanders like his play and how well he’s developing. Though the Sound Tigers have four goalies on the roster Skarek and Marotte will certainly get the lion’s share of the stars.