They did it. The Bridgeport Islanders clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Springfield Thunderbirds (sorta). The New York Islanders AHL affiliate is back in the AHL postseason after a two-year absence.
The 4-2 win on Friday night was only the third win in 12 games against the Thunderbirds this season. Goals from Kyle MacLean, Chris Terry, a game-winner from Austin Czarnik, followed by an empty-netter from Cole Bardreau sealed the win from Bridgeport.
But clinching a playoff spot wasn't confirmed until Hartford lost 2-1 to the Charlotte Checkers and Hershey defeated Lehigh in overtime 4-3.
With no post-season hockey for the New York Islanders, it's nice to know at least future Islanders will be.
New York Islanders AHL affiliate make playoffs and Aatu Räty debuts
One of those potential future Islanders was their 2021 second-round pick Aatu Räty. The 52nd overall pick at last year's draft was in the lineup for Bridgeport for his first professional game in North America*.
*Remember, Räty has been playing professional hockey over in Europe for the last few years.
How did the new kid on the block do? Well. He did well.
Honestly, expectations should be low to non-existent for Räty right now. After a stellar campaign in Finland, all you want to see from Aatu during the remainder of the 2021-22 season is that he's comfortable and doesn't look lost. And that's what we saw last night.
Räty was making smart and simple plays for the majority of his game (thanks for the shift-by-shift Matt) and sprinkled in a few high-skill plays like this one here:
He didn't put up any points but who cares really. Production would have been icing on the Räty cake. Again, all you want to see is that the kid isn't lost. Clearly, he's comfortable in the AHL already. Which is a huge bonus already.
Now it's build off of that and see how far this kid can go.