It has been an up-and-down first 33 games of the 2013-14 season for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Fans have seen players called up to the Islanders, as well as the emergence of others who have remained with the team. With the Sound Tigers preparing for their final game of the 2013 calendar year Tuesday in Portland, let’s take a look back at some of the storylines from the first half of the season.
MOVIN’ ON UP
Defensemen Aaron Ness and Calvin de Haan started the season with the Sound Tigers, but have been fixtures on the Islanders back end for the last few weeks. Ness entered the season with 158 games played for the Sound Tigers, the most of any player on the roster. de Haan missed all but three games of 2012-13 with a shoulder injury, but returned to the lineup and showed he can be the two-way defenseman the Islanders expected him to be when they drafted him 12th overall in 2009.
The player who had the most impressive stint with the Sound Tigers, however, was forward Ryan Strome. Strome played 23 games for the Sound Tigers before he was recalled by the Islanders and showcased some incredible offensive abilities. He had 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) with the Sound Tigers and won two consecutive CCM/AHL Player of the Week awards before his recall.
Two players who benefitted from being linemates with Strome for the early part of the season were Mike Halmo and Anders Lee. Halmo entered his second full season of professional hockey as more of a complimentary player, a third or fourth line forward who can provide secondary scoring. However, playing on the top line has given him a chance to show what he can do. Halmo’s 12 goals this season tie him for the team lead and his 23 points are nine more than he had all of last season.
Lee made his pro debut late last season not with the Sound Tigers, but with the Islanders. He scored in his first NHL game, and when he played in his first AHL contest at the start of this season, he accomplished the same feat. Not only is Lee tied for the team lead in goals with Halmo, his 25 points are tops on the Sound Tigers, as well.
DONOVAN RACKS UP POINTS
Though he started the season with the Islanders, Matt Donovan was loaned to the Sound Tigers when de Haan was recalled. Since then, Donovan has scored 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 16 games and is just one point behind Rhett Rakhshani for 10th all-time in Sound Tigers history, with 112. Earlier in the season, he passed Mark Wotton for most points all-time for Sound Tigers defenseman.
KENNY REITER WIN WATCH
It took into his second season, but Sound Tigers goaltender Kenny Reiter was finally able to pick up his elusive first AHL win. It came against the Adirondack Phantoms (against whom, coincidentally, he also picked up his first AHL shutout later in the year) on November 10th, though he had played well enough to win at least two or three other games earlier this season. Reiter got a chance to be the Sound Tigers starting goaltender when Anders Nilsson was with the Islanders, and currently leads the team with seven wins.
Following a New Year’s Eve game in Portland, the Sound Tigers will play eight of 12 January games on the road. It’s a critical point in the season for the team, who has posted a 4-8-0-3 record away from Webster Bank Arena. Nilsson has returned to the team, while Donovan and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are in from the Islanders, as well. Despite a slow start to the 2013-14 season, the Sound Tigers are just five points behind the St. John’s IceCaps for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ve played more consistent hockey of late, but a lot will ride on how the month of January shakes out.