As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today, the other New York team, the Islanders, are up with their affiliates in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Stockton, California.
BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS
Affiliate Since: 2001-02
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 68 miles
Last Season: 28-40-2-6, 5th in Northeast Division, 14th in Eastern Conference
It was the worst statistical year for the Sound Tigers in their 13 season history, with the lowest wins, points, and goals-for total. It was a transition year, where three rookies were in the top-four in scoring, with the leading scorer playing only 37 games in Bridgeport, but garnering more than a point-per-game clip in the AHL.
Ryan Strome was very dominant for Bridgeport that he didn’t play there past February and still had a team high 49 points on the year. In his absence, Anders Lee was able to pick up some kind of offensive prowess, potting 22 goals and 41 points in 54 games. Two other frequent Islanders call-ups in Mike Halmo and John Persson combined for 17 of the 54 power play goals the Sound Tigers had last season.
Rookie Scott Mayfield played halfway decent for a defense that wasn’t all that stellar at times, especially with Matt Donovan being on Long Island most of the year; though still lead the Sound Tigers defensemen in points for the year. Scooter Vaughn also tried to contribute the most he could from the blueline, putting up three short-handed goals on the season, despite not being so solid in his own end.
One of the hiccups on the Sound Tigers is the goaltending down the stretch, with Kevin Poulin being an anchor late into the season posting a 2-12-1 record in March and April; though no fault of his own as he had the best GAA and save percentage on the team. Both Anders Nilsson and Kenny Reiter played close to .500 hockey when in goal, but oddly enough were able to get some goal-support from their team.
Leading Scorers: Ryan Strome (13g, 36), Anders Lee (22g, 19a), Mike Halmo (18g, 20a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: It could be the last chance for Kevin Poulin, John Persson, and Mike Halmo to stick on Long Island. With a logjam up the middle, Strome and Lee could be on frequent shuttles back and forth. It could also be time for Mayfield to get a long look by the Islanders if the current corps on the blueline can’t cut it.
Outlook: With another year on many of the rookies, it could provide an improvement in Bridgeport; dependant upon the injuries and play that the Islanders may have. If there are a lot of call-ups, there could be plenty of chemistry on Bridgeport being disrupted due to it. Alan Quine could be a breakout star if he can find the same consistency he did in the middle part of the season last year.
Affiliate Since: 2013-14
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 2,896 miles
Last Season: 33-31-2-6, 3rd in Pacific Division, 7th in Western Conference
It was quite an interesting season for the Thunder, as they scored the second most goals in the Western Conference, but also gave up the second most goals in the West. Also, they had enough steam to have a first round upset of Ontario in a sweep, thanks mostly to the play of Joey Martin and Jeremy Langlois down the stretch and into the playoffs. Greg Miller laid down a solid foundation at the start of the season, but was traded at the middle of the year and put the onus on Martin and Langlois.
Captain Garet Hunt was the muscle of the Thunder while also chipping in 36 points, while Ryan Hayes was solid on the extra-man advantage with five goals on the power play. Ryan Constant and Landon Oslanski held down their own blueline as much as they could, while Brian Foster was able to get 23 wins in 45 appearances for the Thunder.
Leading Scorers: Joey Martin (21g, 45a), Corey Trivino (11g, 32a), James Henry (14g, 22a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: While the Isles use their ECHL affiliate sparingly, Hayes and Henry could get looks from the AHL, with Ryan Howse will try to revitalize his career and his path to the NHL through Stockton– where he should see a lot of ice time and plenty of opportunities to succeed.
Outlook: With Martin’s departure to Great Britain and Langlois going to the San Jose organization, there’s a huge hole to fill for the Thunder in scoring. Ryan Hayes and James Henry will be looked at in order to increase the scoring, while Ryan Constant will have to be a lot better in his zone and lead by example for Oslanski and the other blueliners.