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By Alan Fuehring / Bridgeport Sound Tigers
The New York Islanders’ remarkable run in the postseason took them to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993, and it was led by more than a dozen former Sound Tigers who helped power New York within two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Isles knocked off the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Tampa Bay proceeded to the championship round despite leading for just 8.8 seconds in four of the six games combined. New York scored first in all but one contest in the Eastern Conference Final, marking the first time since 1982 that the club scored first in five straight playoff games.
Former Sound Tigers forward Josh Bailey led the way with an outstanding 18 assists and 20 points in the 22 playoff contests. His 18 helpers were the most assists by an Islander since Bob Bourne had 20 in 1983. Bailey was extraordinary in his short time with Bridgeport, collecting 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 11 American Hockey League games in 2010-11.
Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each scored nine goals this summer and Nelson added nine assists for 18 points, second-most on the team. Nelson and Beauvillier are also tied for second-most goals by an Islander in a single postseason in the Post-Cup Era behind Ray Ferraro’s 13 in 1993. In addition, Nelson and Beauvillier each netted three game-winning goals this summer, including Nelson’s tally in the closing minutes of a Game 3 win over Tampa Bay.
Bridgeport grad and current Islanders captain Anders Lee finished his magnificent playoff run with seven goals and 11 points in 22 games. He also led the Islanders with three power-play goals. Lee played 59 games with the Sound Tigers from 2013-15 and scored 46 points (25 goals, 21 assists).
Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Ross Johnston, Michael Dal Colle and Andrew Ladd were other former Sound Tigers forwards to make at least one appearance in the bubble. Martin, who played 83 games with Bridgeport from 2009-11, leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 103 hits and is the ninth NHL player to record 100 hits in a postseason. Cal Clutterbuck, who played two games with Bridgeport on a conditioning loan earlier this season, had 12 hits in Game 6 against Tampa Bay alone.
Four players on the Islanders’ blue line developed with the Sound Tigers for more than 100 AHL games prior to earning full-time jobs with New York. Former AHL All-Stars Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock each scored twice and added eight assists for 10 points in 22 games. Scott Mayfield, who is 11th on the Sound Tigers’ all-time games played list, had five points this summer and scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal in a Game 7 win against Philadelphia. Adam Pelech also had five points in 21 appearances.