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New York Islanders

A (Long) Islander Already, Ilya Sorokin Adjusting to Life with the Isles

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Ilya Sorokin
Photo Credit: New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin already sounds like an Islander.

And not just a New York Islander, but a Long Islander after only a couple of months. Long Islanders are known for their preference for the more tranquil life on Long Island than the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, and it seems Sorokin is the same way.

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The new Islanders goaltender has gotten the chance to explore his new home, taking time to visit Jones Beach and New York City.

“I like the ocean and it’s very peaceful,” Ilya Sorokin said during his first media availability since training camp started. “I was in Manhattan and I don’t like it because there’s lots of people. … I like a peaceful place.”

The comment is sure to endear Sorokin even more to a fan base already over the moon to have the talented goaltender they’ve affectionally nicknamed the “white whale.” The arrival of Sorokin has been years in the making and after seven days of on-ice work, it seems he is more than happy with the decision he has made.

Prior to this year, it had always been a question of whether or not Ilya Sorokin would ever leave the KHL and join the Islanders in North America. Faced with that decision, Sorokin weighed his options and decided to follow his dreams.

WHALE WATCHING: Sorokin Shows He Has Tools to Succeed | NYHN+

“It was stay in Moscow for one more season or go to my dream and play in the NHL, the best league in the world,” He said. “All guys have dream of playing in the NHL. I wanted a bigger challenge. It was a lot of things.”

Now Sorokin will get that challenge.

Not only is he joining the Islanders with plenty of expectations, but he is doing so in a year that could only be described as unusual. With COVID-19 still impacting everyday life across the country, The season will be condensed to 56 games and each game will carry more meaning.

There won’t be much room for error during the course of the year, but that may not be the worst thing in the world.

During a normal year, the NHL schedule would be longer and more spread out. As Islanders coach Barry Trotz noted on Tuesday, you would often play a game and then have a couple of days off in between. That prevented both goaltenders from being able to get into a rhythm.

“The backup sometimes can sit for a couple of weeks before you get him his first game,” Trotz said. “I don’t see that being the case for the schedule for any of the teams or the coaches. The one thing I do think on the flip side of that is there’s no travel and so if you have one goaltender you can probably ride him a lot more. I know there’s a lot more games, but a lot less travel.”

The Islanders bench boss wasn’t sure on Tuesday how quickly Sorokin would get into his first game action this season. A day earlier, Trotz revealed Semyon Varlamov to be the starter for the season opener on Thursday against the New York Rangers.

Trotz said on Tuesday that he was taking his goaltending decisions one game at a time. And to Sorokin’s credit, he was just fine waiting until it was his turn to man the net.

“I have to deserve the time,” Sorokin said through a translator. “I have to still work hard for it.”

It almost seems fitting to see Sorokin in an Islanders jersey. Not only have he and current starter Semyon Varlamov created a kinship, but one of Sorokin’s goaltending idols had been former Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov.

And if Ilya Sorokin’s words about wanting to earn his time on net weren’t enough for some, he has certainly been putting in the effort during practice. Sorokin has been working with Islanders goaltending coaches Mitch Korn and Piero Greco.

Even on Tuesday, Sorokin was on the far end of the ice working one on one with them as the rest of the team was running drills.

“A lot of things, small goalie movements, they change it,” Sorokin said. “The new coaches are changing the little details. The focus is on very small parts of the game and through that tweaking, there’s always something new.”

When word came out that Sorokin would be coming to Long Island this year there was a sense of jubilation from the fans. With it comes the expectations that he will be the franchise’s goaltender of the future.

Sorokin saw the reaction to his arrival and isn’t taking the responsibility that it comes with lightly.

“I’m quite aware of the excitement,” Sorokin said. ” Now I feel indebted to the fans and have to work hard for it to deserve this excitement.”

(Main Photo Credit: New York Islanders)

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[…] Following Ilya Sorokin’s press conference, it is evident he is a Long Islander at heart given his answers. Even with all the hype around him, the 25-year old goaltender knows he has to earn his playing time. (NYI Hockey Now) […]

[…] A (Long) Islander Already, Ilya Sorokin Adjusting to Life with the Isles […]

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Chris Lamoriello: ‘We’re Not Ruling Anything Out’ When it Comes to Josh Ho-Sang

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Josh Ho-Sang
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Could we see Josh Ho-Sang back in North America in the near future? Don’t rule it out.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers general manager and New York Islanders Islanders assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello indicated that a Ho-Sang return was on the table despite the team loaning him overseas. Ho-Sang is currently playing for Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League.

The Islanders announced they had loaned the talented forward to the Swedish hockey team earlier this month.

“Josh is extremely talented, very lucky early in his career to play a number of NHL games,” Lamoriello said during a Zoom call with local media. “At this point, we looked at a number of different options to put him in the best position. … We felt that with our schedule only being 24 games at the American League level, that he would get the chance to get in the lineup quicker and a greater volume of games in a shorter period of time.

“We thought this made a lot of sense. We spoke to him about it and he agreed, and this open-ended too. This isn’t something that will determine his future for this season.”

The Islanders had placed four players overseas with clubs while the NHL had worked to determine how or even if they would conduct a 2022-21 season. Ho-Sang’s situation played out differently, Lamoriello said, because those four players had citizenship in the countries that they played in.

The fact that placement for Josh Ho-Sang materialized later wasn’t out of the ordinary, Lamoriello said.

The Islanders shocked many when it was revealed that he would not be invited to training camp after he signed a 1-year, two-way contract extension this past offseason. Ho-Sang made it known to the organization that he would report to AHL Bridgeport if that’s where they wanted him.

Instead, the Islanders loaned Josh Ho-Sang to Orebro HK after he cleared waivers.

Despite the ups and downs, Lamoriello said that the communication with Ho-Sang had been “excellent.”

“That’s been ongoing, that’s been consistent,” Lamoriello said. “I feel very good about the direction in this type of transaction. Not only with us as an organization, but him as a player. I think it’s been extremely important, as you said, communication that has been had.”

And when asked to clarify about the potential for Ho-Sang to return, Lamoriello again indicated that it could be in the cards.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Lamoriello said. “That’s why I mentioned it was open-ended. We’re just going to go game to game.”

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New York Islanders

Anthony Beauvillier Injury Could Lead to More Lineup Tinkering by Islanders

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Anthony Beauvillier

The situation with Anthony Beauvillier is fluid.

The Islanders forward was injured in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils and is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That’s about as detailed as head coach Barry Trotz was willing to get with the media on Monday afternoon.

The Isles are in Washington preparing for their first meeting of the year with the Capitals at Capital One Arena. It will be the first of two games that they’ll see the Caps this week and their first chance to rebound from their second shutout loss of the year.

That task will be made harder, however, when you factor in that Beauvillier may not be in the lineup on Tuesday. The Islanders have been inconsistent offensively, scoring four goals twice this young season and then being shutout in both losses they’ve suffered.

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

Now they’ll have to piece together a lineup that can help curb some of the team’s offensive struggles.

“Obviously we might have to do some gymnastics in terms of our roster,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s a lot of parts of our game we do really well. … Teams are locking it down defensively. Goaltenders seem to be sharp. Yeah, we’re looking for an odd goal or two. We’re OK if we can win 1-0. Just don’t like losing 1-0.”

Anthony Beauvillier is the first injury situation that the Islanders have really had to deal with early on this season. The team had a COVID scare last week when Josh Bailey briefly appeared on the COVID protocol list, but he did not miss any games.

Trotz had already tinkered with the Islanders lineup on Sunday, playing Michael Dal Colle in place of the more offensive-minded Kieffer Bellows. Depending on Beauvillier’s status there could be more changes to the lineup, which highlights the importance for everyone to be ready.

“We have success as a group when everyone contributes,” Trotz said. “That’s our top-six. That’s our bottom-six. So when guys come into the lineup, they have to contribute. They just can’t put on the jersey and be part of the team. They’ve got to find ways to contribute. Some guys have to contribute offensively because that’s more of their skill set.

“Some guys have to do it with the physical play or the checking prowess. … Whatever you bring to the table you better bring it.”

Sunday’s appearance was Dal Colle’s first this season for the Islanders. The more seasoned forward had established himself as somewhat of a regular in the lineup, appearing 53 games last season.

Dal Colles said he felt he learned a lot from his year with the Islanders last season, not only during the regular season, but in the playoff bubble as well.

The 24-year-old was happy with the way he and his linemates played against New Jersey, albeit, he admitted they could have gotten off to a faster start. Dal Colle is also very aware of hight tight the competition is for roster spots on a day to day basis.

“Everyone knows every day you’re battling for spots,” Dal Colle said. “Everyone wants to be in the lineup. We have a tone of bodies all with NHL experience. I think we know every day we come to the rink we’re going to need to work hard and push each other. I think (Trotz) is going to put the best lineup he thinks can win. We know that and it starts in practice.”

The Islanders have a pair of more offensively minded forward in youngsters Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. The aforementioned Wahlstrom has yet to play this season, but he could be an option with the Islanders’ scoring falling on the top-six of the lineup.

The injury to Anthony Beauvillier could make it harder to adjust that issue.

“I think what you’re finding most of our games one or the other of our top two lines are carrying the load and we’re not getting that complete contribution through the lineup right now,” Trotz said. “When we’re most successful we’re getting, one night it’s the fourth line. The next night it’s the third, but three of the four lines are contributing. Lately, we’ve just had one of the four lines that have had an effect on the game.”

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New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

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Ilya Sorokin makes a save on the New Jersey Devils

When the final buzzer sounded on Sunday and the New York Islanders second loss of the season was a done deal, there was a lot to not like about their game against New Jersey. One item that should not be too high on that list was the play of Ilya Sorokin.

The rookie netminder started in just his second career NHL game on Sunday in the Islanders 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. While the effort wasn’t perfect, he did what you’d expect out of any goaltender on any given night. He gave them a chance to win.

Ilya Sorokin finished the night with 22 saves and a .917 save percentage, which was not a bad effort in only his second game in North America. It was by far a big improvement over his first start the weekend prior.

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