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Sound Tigers camp opens today
Not exactly the camp opening hockey fans on Long Island were hoping for this month, but this is all you've got for now.
Today's opening session, from 10-11:30 at IceWorks, is open to the public; next Saturday's session is open to season-ticket holders.
Bridgeport has 27 players in camp, all of whom are under contract; the few players who don't make the team will be scattered around the ECHL, most likely.
The Sound Tigers also have a new coach, Scott Pellerin, who has the added bonus of the entire Islanders coaching staff peering over his shoulder for the next two weeks before Bridgeport opens its season against the Connecticut Whale on Oct. 12.
Nearly the entire squad underwent on-ice conditioning tests on Friday -- Travis Hamonic, the real star of this team for as long as the lockout lasts, had travel delays and didn't arrive until Friday morning -- and here is the roster that will take the ice today:
Goaltenders -- Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, Ken Reiter.
Defense -- Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan, Ty Wishart, Jon Landry, Nathan McIver, Marc Cantin.
Forwards -- Casey Cizikas, Nino Niederreiter, David Ullstrom, Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson, Mike Halmo, Brett Gallant, Blair Riley, Brandon DeFazio, Colin McDonald, Matt Watkins, Jason Clark, Sean Backman, Max MacKay.
Cizikas, Niederreiter and Ullstrom would have been vying for spots with the Isles. Nelson, Kabanov, Sundstrom, Clark and Persson are all first-year pros who offer varying degrees of intrigue. McDonald, DeFazio and Watkins are veteran AHLers who will provide some older leadership and, when the NHL returns, be 13th forward candidates.
The same is true on defense of McIver, who is the new Dylan Reese -- still relatively young at 27, with 36 NHL games under his belt, though none since 2008-09.
It's certainly a stronger team than Pellerin would have expected, thanks of course to the lockout. There will be some better talent around the AHL as well, at least for that first month, so from a development standpoint, that's the good news -- prospects like de Haan, Ness and Donovan will face better players than they otherwise might. Same for Poulin and Nilsson.