There was a battle between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders minor league affiliates when the puck dropped in the American Hockey League regular season last night; the Rangers represented by the Connecticut Whale and the Islanders represented by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 8,148 fans attended the XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum to see the Whale lose their home opener 6-4. It was a run and gun affair that saw the Sound Tigers outshoot the Whale 45-31 and it was a 5 goal outburst in the second period that propelled the Sound Tigers to victory.
For fans currently suffering through the NHL Lockout looking for familiar faces to follow with their club’s minor league affiliate, the faces are few and far in between. For the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, once highly touted Islanders prospect Nino Neiderreiter led the way with 1 goal and 2 assists while well known Travis Hamonic registered 3 helpers on the night. Neither starting goaltender was stunning but Kevin Poulin, who spent a little time with the Islanders last year, stopped 27 of 31 shots for the victory.
For Rangers fans, anyone would be quick to recognize Chris Kreider who was the Rangers most unexpected offensive surprise during the playoffs last Spring. Kreider registered an assist, but it was Chris Newbury who scored 2 goals to lead the Whale attack. Newbury has flirted with the Rangers roster before, but never made any substantial breakthroughs. Former Ranger Matt Gilroy was also in the lineup for the Whale. The Hobey Baker winner, who is yet to find his place in the NHL, did register one assist in the Whale’s season debut.