Islanders AHL win first playoff round in nearly 20 years

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It was 2003 when the New York Islanders AHL affiliate last won a playoff round. Then called the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, they swept the Manchester Monarchs 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

Yesterday, nearly 20 years later, Bridgeport did it again. For the first time since 2003. It's not that Bridgeport hasn't made the playoffs between 2003 and 2022, they've done so seven times, they just didn't win a series. They're 12-29 in the playoffs since that sweep over the Monarchs back in 2003.

The playoffs haven't been exactly kind to Bridgeport of late.

So how did they do it this time?

New York Islanders AHL win first playoff round in nearly 20 years

Honestly, it comes down to a familiar strategy; strong goaltending. The Bridgeport Islanders got incredible goaltending from veteran Cory Schneider. Over the two games in the best-of-three series over Providence, Schneider stopped 75 of 77 shots faced for a 0.974SV%.

That's an average of just under 40 shots (38.5 to be precise) in each of the two games. Schneider was overworked but that didn't seem to bother him, he was out there doing anything he could to stop a puck, even if he was down on his back.

While Schneider was keeping the goal safe, some familiar names popped in enough goals to take both games with 2-1 OT wins.

Arnaud Durandeau scored the first OT game-winner after Robin Salo directed a point shot towards the net. Two days later Aatu Räty scored the series-clinching goal in OT with a well-placed wrist shot just above the faceoff dot.

Räty now has two points in two playoff games. He's got the goal in Game 2 and a secondary assist on Arnaud Durandeau's OT winner in Game 1 after winning the O-zone faceoff.

With the two wins, the sixth seed in the Atlantic (Bridgeport) takes out the third seed (Providence) and will now take on the top-seeded Charlotte Checkers. But before thinking of the Charlotte matchup let this series win sink in a bit because it hasn't happened in a long time.