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Notes from Isles rookies' 7-2 win
-- The headliners were the last two first-round picks, Ryan Strome and Nino Niederreiter, and they didn't disappoint on the score sheet. Strome had two first-period goals and set up Niederreiter's second-period power-play goal. After the disjointed play on Monday, all four forward lines played with far more grit and fire, which led to a bushel of scoring chances.
Strome created plenty and showed that, much like John Tavares, he's perhaps even more adept at creating for others than for himself. And Niederreiter simply parked himself in front of the Bruins net every time the Islanders gained the offensive zone; that's not all there is to it, but that's a lot, and his willingness to stick his nose in the high-traffic areas bodes well for Niederreiter's near future, when he'll start out with third-line minutes.
-- Anders Nilsson had himself a very strong night, with 38 saves and only two garbage-time goals allowed. He's still learning the angles and bounces on the smaller, North American rink, but he looked very poised and smooth.
-- It was a headliner-type night for Casey Cizikas as well. He projects as a checking center who can chip in the occasional goal but who will mostly kill penalties and make life miserable for opposing players. He did that last night, with two goals and some very mature work on a 70-second, two-man advantage for the Bruins rookies.
And we may have inadvertently found a nickname for the young man. Joe Buscemi? Hey, whatever works.
-- As for the lesser-knowns among last night's players, Tyler McNeely has certainly shown that he can do a little bit of everything, scoring the first goal of the night and holding his own on a line with Strome and Niederreiter. The 24-year-old winger played four seasons for former Isles (and current Leafs) assistant Greg Cronin at Northeastern and piled up five goals in 10 games on a tryout contract with Bridgeport at the end of last season. It's a safe bet he'll be there again to start this season.
-- On defense, Andrey Pedan looked good. He's a bit awkward at 6-foot-4, but he engages well physically and provided a nice complement to Calvin de Haan. Pedan just turned 18 in July so he's a ways off from being a pro, but he'll have an easier time in his second year of Canadian junior hockey at Guelph.
-- Rhett Rakhshani (concussion) and Mark Katic (dislocated shoulder) were both on hand at the end of last night's game, looking not too much worse for wear. Katic appeared to suffer his injury making a big hit in the first period; he had shoulder surgery two years ago, so the team will know more today about how serious this is.
-- Oh, and those fights at the beginning of the game... It figured that someone would challenge Tyler Randell, who knocked Rakhshani out of Monday's game. Brett Gallant, who played for longtime NHL enforcer Gordie Dwyer in major junior hockey in Summerside, P.E.I., took the job on the opening faceoff and did fine.
What happened next was a bit surprising: Fights at the drop of the next two pucks. Benn Olson, who may team with Gallant to man the enforcer roles in Bridgeport this season, fought with Conor Stokes. And then Art Bidlevskii challenged Kevan Miller.
Cizikas said he was happy to see his team of rookies banding together to stand up for one another. I'm assuming he meant Gallant's fight, but auditions are auditions, and Olson and Bidlevskii need to show their stuff too.