Isles Prospects Shine in Blue/White ScrimmageJun 28, 2019
By Cory Wright / New York Islanders
For all the star power on the ice at the Islanders Blue and White Scrimmage, it was a local Long Island kid who stole the show.
Syosset native Sam Sternschein scored a scrimmage-high four goals on Thursday night, putting on a clinic in front of friends, family and even his mite coach.
"Growing up here, I've seen games at the Coliseum, I've seen how loud it is, so to have those fans here, it was really special to play in front of all of them," Sternschein said.
Northwell Health Ice Center was practically a home rink for Sternschein, who grew up down the street from Islanders Iceworks, the team's former practice facility. The Long Island hockey connections don't end there. Sternschein played youth hockey for the Long Island Gulls, skated on the Jr. Islanders Quebec pee-wee team in 2011 and currently skates and trains at Northwell in the offseason.
Sternschein has spent the past two seasons at Penn State, and is one of three Nittany Lions - forward Liam Folkes, who had two goals in the scrimmage, and goalie Peyton Jones are the others - invited to the Islanders Development Camp. Sternschein is excited about the opportunity and is hoping to put himself on the organization's radar, much like Manhasset native Ryan Hitchcock did by turning a development camp invite in 2017 into an AHL deal with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2018.
"When I got the invite I was really happy, I just want to make the best of this and show what I can do out here," Sternschein said.
Sternschein's parents, Evan and Robyn, were thrilled for their son and hope it's the first of many special hockey nights on Long Island. They've put nearly as much time in at Long Island rinks - including Northwell - as he has.
"[We're] thrilled beyond belief. Him beginning to have a shot at living his dream," Evan Sternschein said. "[Tonight] was so much fun, what a great experience."
SODERSTROM PLAYS FIRST GAME ACTION IN 18 MONTHS:
Just playing in Thursday's game was a positive step for goalie Linus Soderstrom, who hadn't suited up in on-ice competition - albeit a scrimmage - in about 18 months.
Soderstrom, on the mend from a lower-body injury that cost him the entire 2018-19 season, looked sharp in his lone appearance, as Team Blue/White picked up a 3-1 win over Team White. His best save was a sliding pad stop on a cross-crease feed from Kieffer Bellows to Mason Jobst.
The Islanders' 2014 fourth-round pick (95th overall) said he felt good physically and mentally during the four-on-four scrimmage. He was even a little nervous before the game, but in a good way, rekindling that feeling of game action.
"Mentally, I was a little nervous, I'll be honest about that, getting into game action" Soderstrom said. "Practice is one thing, but usually you get into a flow and know what's happening, but in games, you don't know what's happening. I was a little nervous getting into game action again, but it was fun."
WILDE TO WAHLSTROM:
'Bode Wilde to Oliver Wahlstrom' has a nice ring to it.
The Islanders 2018 draft picks - and former teammates at the USNTDP - teamed up for a goal late in Team White's second game of the night.
Wahlstrom and Wilde hooked up on a give-and-go, with Wilde sending a pass back to Wahlstrom for the quick tap-in. The goal had the crowd at Northwell Health Ice Center buzzing and thinking of what could be coming in the future for the Islanders.
"We played two years at the program together, so we know each other and I know how he plays," Wahlstrom said of Wilde. "He likes to play that finesse game and we had a lot of give-and-go's and that was a good pass. Fortunate I could bury that one."
Both 19-year-olds have the option to play in Bridgeport next season, as they were drafted out of the US amateur ranks instead of the Canadian junior ranks.
SECOND SCRIMMAGE SATURDAY:
Saturday's scrimmage will be open to the public. Doors open at 9 a.m. and puck drop is at 10 a.m.