Parker Wotherspoon #38 of the Islanders skates during the first...

Parker Wotherspoon #38 of the Islanders skates during the first period against the Florida Panthers at UBS Arena on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Well before Parker Wotherspoon finally made his NHL debut, he and Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield were chatting about their lengthy tenures with the organization’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

“He was like, ‘How many games have you played?’ ” Wotherspoon said, recalling the conversation on Tuesday before the Islanders resumed their season against the Penguins at UBS Arena following the NHL’s three-day holiday break. “I’m like, ‘About 250.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, that’s about as many as I played.’

“That really calmed me down,” said the 25-year-old Wotherspoon, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who has played parts of eight seasons with Bridgeport “I was like, ‘It will come. It will come.’ It did the other night so it was great.”

Wotherspoon was in the Islanders’ lineup against the Penguins for a second straight game, subbing for the injured Adam Pelech (suspected head injury) and paired with Ryan Pulock. Robin Salo, a second-round pick in 2017, dressed for the first seven games of Pelech’s absence before coach Lane Lambert switched to Wotherspoon.

He logged 14:47 with two shots in his NHL debut as the Islanders beat the Panthers 5-1 on Friday after being recalled from Bridgeport earlier that day.

“It’s a little bit more relaxed for me,” Wotherspoon said. “I slept a little bit better than I did previously. I’ve got a little more confidence in me. I felt I had a good game the other day so I’m going to try and build on that. [The first game] I didn’t have a very long nap that day. I was super excited. My heart was beating out of my chest. I felt like once I got out there I’d calm down. It definitely did after the first couple of shifts.”

Wotherspoon has played 293 AHL games while Mayfield, a second-round pick in 2011, played 223 for Bridgeport before finally cementing a full-time spot in the Islanders’ lineup.

Wotherspoon had a brief call-up to the Islanders last season but did not dress for a game.

He said the motivation through all those AHL seasons was simply to get that first chance.

“Knowing that feeling the other night was coming,” Wotherspoon said. “I was confident in my game. I had the tools. I just wanted an opportunity. As soon as I got that opportunity I felt like I couldn’t waste it. So I just stayed ready because I wouldn’t forgive myself if I lost the opportunity.”

The 6-1, 190-pound Wotherspoon brings a physical presence and a steady defensive game.

“It’s a small sample size but I really like his compete level and his strength,” Lambert said. “I thought he played well.”

The trick, of course, is to play well enough to force the Islanders to keep him on the roster. Wotherspoon, originally from Surrey, British Columbia — and the Islanders play in nearby Vancouver on Jan. 3 — has a chance to get a decent look as Pelech has yet to resume skating, meaning his return is not imminent.

“He’s worked his way throughout this organization,” Pulock said of Wotherspoon. “We heard some rumblings from them down there that he is, the last few years, really improving and has really been one of their most solid, consistent players in Bridgeport. To see him finally get a callup and finally be able to play, it’s exciting.

“Coming in, I knew he was going to be just simple and work and battle defensively and do all those little things. He played the game with a lot of confidence. He was holding the puck a little bit, skating with the puck and making some great breakout plays and some great transition plays.”

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