Cizikas, Ullstrom fight to be part of Isles' future

Casey Cizikas of the Islanders skates in his Casey Cizikas of the Islanders skates in his first NHL game against the New York Rangers. (Feb. 24, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom didn't have roster spots on the Islanders out of training camp, with both going to Bridgeport before the regular season began.

As the regular season winds down, Cizikas and Ullstrom are with the big club, and not just as late-season, see-what-you-can-do call-ups. They've been here for a while, and both want to use these last nine games to prove they should be part of the team's core for next season.

"It's a showcase for us," Cizikas said after he picked up an assist on Ullstrom's goal in Toronto on Tuesday, part of a 5-2 win. "We want to be here and we want to show the staff that we can contribute at this level."

The results have been good for both young forwards, who were paired with Michael Grabner at the end of the 3-2 loss to the Flyers three games ago and did well in the two wins that followed. That's the likely pairing again Saturday night against the Lightning.

Ullstrom's second stint with the Isles this season has shown his speed and willingness to engage in physical battles a bit better than his first call-up, which ended with a concussion in Winnipeg on Dec. 21. He has a goal and two assists in 12 games since his second recall from Bridgeport.

"I'm just trying to make sure the coaches know what I'm doing, that I'm showing my speed, my work ethic, everything I can," the 23-year-old wing said.

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Cizikas, 21, who came up for the first time Feb. 23, has four assists in 11 games and is doing what Jack Capuano wants his feisty young center to do.

"He is what he is: He's a gritty guy and he's very good positionally," Capuano said.

Cizikas had 25 friends and family at the game in his hometown of Toronto on Tuesday. "It was a great feeling,'' he said. "How could it not have been?"

Barclays Center game. Tickets for the next season's Oct. 2 preseason game between the Islanders and Devils at Barclays Center become available Thursday at 10 a.m. through www.barclayscenter.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

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