UNIONDALE, NY - The Sound Tigers 2010-11 season opener against the Worcester Sharks will be played in just under a month, but October 9th felt alot closer today when the Islanders Rookie Camp got underway on Long Island. Today's squad was chock full of many players who spent last season with the Sound Tigers, as well as some new faces who will see some time with the team this year.
Practice was lead by Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon and his coaching staff, as well as Sound Tigers Head Coach Jack Capuano and assistants Pat Bingham and Matt Bertani. Although it was the first day of camp, Gordon put the players right to work. The young prospects took the ice at Islanders Iceworks, the official practice facility of the New York Islanders, around 10:30 a.m. and worked for a solid two hours on the ice, focusing on the specifics.
"The first day is always a good day to be around the guys," Capuano said. "It's really not a whole lot about conditioning, but about more or less about going through the systems and techniques that (Scott Gordon) wants. You start talking about systems, and the season is only about three weeks away...I'd say it was a solid Day 1."
The most prominent forwards lines of the day featured the Islanders 2010 fifth overall draft pick Nino Niederreiter along with right wing Rhett Rakhshani and center David Ullstrom, who capped off one of the early drills with a hard one-timer over the left shoulder of goaltender Kevin Poulin.
The other goaltender on the ice today was Mikko Koskinen, who saw limited time with the Sound Tigers due to injury last season, but was in net to earn the win in Game 4 of the Sound Tigers first round series against Hershey during the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. Scott Gordon took extra time to work with Koskinen today, working one-on-one with the Finnish netminder on his positioning and puck-handilng outside of the net.
Another familiar face back on the ice was defenseman Mark Katic. The young blue-liner, who was selected to the 2010 AHL Canadian All Star Team, was impressive during his 47 games with the Sound Tigers last year before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. Katic is now skating at 100% and was a solid force in today's practice.
Nino Niederreiter - David Ullstrom - Rhett Rakhshani
Justin DiBenedetto - Casey Cizikas - Robin Figren
Alex O'Neil - Justin Taylor - Tony Romano