Islanders Open 2021-22 Season Tonight
The Bridgeport Islanders open their 21st season in the American Hockey League tonight, facing off against the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. The Islanders begin the regular season with four consecutive road games, including a three-in-three this weekend with stops in Hartford, Providence, and Springfield. Bridgeport will look to build on a strong finish to the 2020-21 season when the team earned points in six of its last seven games (5-1-1-0).
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ISLES VS. WOLF PACK
Tonight's tilt is the first of 10 meetings between the Islanders and Wolf Pack this season, and the first of five in Hartford. Bridgeport faced its in-state rival 12 times during last year's truncated schedule, going 4-7-1-0 overall and 2-3-0-0 at the XL Center.
VIEW FROM HARTFORD
Led by head coach Kris Knoblauch, the Wolf Pack finished second in the Atlantic Division last season, five points behind Providence. Tim Gettinger (9g, 10a), Ty Ronning (10g, 8a) and Jonny Brodzinski (6g, 11a) are among the returning players who finished in the top four in scoring in 2020-21, while Hartford added former Islanders forward Tanner Fritz over the offseason. Fritz is 10th on Bridgeport's all-time scoring list with 135 points (46g, 89a) in 198 career games.
Bridgeport's opening night roster consists of 26 players: 16 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders. Only one player is looking to make his true pro debut (Reece Newkirk), while newcomers Anatolii Golyshev and Robin Salo have also not yet made an AHL appearance. The roster features five rookies and five veterans: Andy Andreoff, Seth Helgeson, Thomas Hickey, Richard Panik, Chris Terry. The average age of the team is 25 years old.
Five-time AHL All-Star Chris Terry, who signed an AHL deal with the Islanders on Aug. 3, will make his Bridgeport debut tonight. A veteran of 12 professional seasons, Terry has played 626 AHL games with Grand Rapids, Laval, St. John's, Charlotte and Albany, recording 233 goals and 552 points. He won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL scoring champion (71 points) in 2017-18 with Laval.
PANIK AT THE DISCO
Veteran forward Richard Panik is expected to make his Bridgeport debut tonight, which will also be his first AHL game since Jan. 3, 2016 with the Rockford IceHogs. Panik came to the Islanders organization in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings for Nick Leddy on July 16. He played 48 NHL games with Detroit and Washington last season and has played 517 career NHL contests, including stints with Tampa Bay, Chicago and Arizona (88-106-194). Panik also has 53 goals and 119 points in 166 career AHL games and won the 2012 Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals.
Head coach Brent Thompson returns for his ninth season with Bridgeport, but will be joined behind the bench by new assistant coach Rick Kowalsky, who was hired on Aug. 3... Kowalsky spent the last three seasons as assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils and was head coach with New Jersey's AHL affiliate for eight years prior to that... Seth Helgeson is expected to be team captain for the second straight season.
New York Islanders (0-1-0): Last: 6-3 L at Carolina last night; Next: 6 p.m. at Florida tomorrow
Worcester Railers (0-0-0-0): Season opener is Friday, Oct. 22 at Maine
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