UNIONDALE, NY - The first two days of Islanders Rookie Camp feature two rigorous practices clocking in at just around two hours in length. Today's time on the ice was much shorter than the previous two days, but the purpose was different was well. Days 1 and 2 focused on nailing down the basics in systems that Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon and Sound Tigers Head Coach Jack Capuano plan to implement throughout the season. Today was a light skate with drills and some work on the power play in preparation for the two Islanders Rookie Games against the Boston Bruins prospects in Boston on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
If there's any player who's more anxious to see game action than the others, defenseman Mark Katic fits the bill. The Porcupine, Ont. native made his professional debut with the Sound Tigers last season after playing his junior hockey with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. Katic was a strong presence on the blue line in 47 games last season, but suffered a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the rest of the season.
"I thought last season went really well up until February last season when I got hurt," Katic said. "The shoulder is feeling great, but it was kind of tough for the first few months," I couldn't do much, I couldn't even do a push up so that was tough, but it's feeling 100% now and I'm glad I got the surgery done."
Katic was so impressive on Head Coach Jack Capuano's blue line that he was named to the 2010 AHL Canadian All-Star Team, but was unable to play in the game due to his injury.
"I think it was a big honor for me, it was something I didnt expect. Obviously some people thought that I deserved it, so it really was an honor and hopefully I can do that again this year.
The young defenseman played under the Gordon and Capuano's systems last season, and knows that although the first couple of days aren't the most thrilling, they're a necessity towards building success for the upcoming season.
"I know that a lot of the new guys dont know the system yet, so it's alot of instruction and sitting and learning. It might not be a lot of action, but its still very important."
After missing the better part of the second half of the season last year, Katic has had this first rookie game against the Boston Bruins prospects circled on his calendar.
"The last two months of last season and sitting and watching every game was really a struggle, but i finally get to play tonight. I'm looking forward to it...it's been a long time coming."
Tonight's game will be aired on Islanders TV, which can be accessed here.
The lines from morning skate:
Niederreiter - Ullstrom - Rakhshani
DiBenedetto - Cizikas - Figren
O’Neil - Taylor - Tarasuk
Kabanov - Romano + one irregular shift
de Haan - Hamonic
Klementyev - Katic
DeHart - Syvret
Goaltenders: Mikko Koskinen - Kevin Poulin