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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Adam Pelech’s Success No Surprise to Brent Thompson

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Adam Pelech

The success and importance of Adam Pelech to the New York Islanders may have surprised some people, but there was one person who wasn’t shocked by it at all.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson helped develop Pelech during his time in the AHL and saw the potential the young defenseman had in him at the time. Thompson was the Sound Tigers coach during the parts of three seasons that Pelech played in the AHL.

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“I knew Adam was going to be great NHL player,” Brent Thompson told NYI Hockey Now during a phone interview. “We had comparables that I thought he was going to be a top-four. A great shutdown defenseman plus he has the great vision. Good outlet, good first pass and the great stick in the defensive end. His hockey IQ is off the charts and just a great kid.”

Brent Thompson Discusses Bridgeport Sound Tigers Preparation for Next Season

Adam Pelech’s importance to the Islanders quickly became clear after he was sidelined for the remainder of the year with an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in January. The Islanders went 10-13-7 and allowed 3.13 goals per game without him in the lineup.

Pelech had already been given plenty of minutes and responsibility by Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, but it wasn’t until he wasn’t in the lineup did the full scope of his importance come into focus.

The 26-year-old defenseman returned for the Islanders playoff run in August, where he played a pivotal role in the team making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. He averaged 22:26 of ice time in 21 playoff games and was usually facing off against the opposing team’s top players.

Adam Pelech missed Game 6 against Tampa Bay with a broken wrist, which he suffered in Game 5 and played through.

“He was a key piece of our success here the years that we were good,” Thompson said. “Seeing him go and translate it in the NHL, I’m not surprised the level that he can play at. It’s exciting for the Islanders fans to see where he’s at now and how good he’s going to be, and how important he is to that team.”

Adam Pelech with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Photo credit: Jon Tenca / Puck Stopper Photography

For the veteran hockey coach, it was early on that Pelech’s talents caught his eye.

Pelech signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders in March of 2014 and played the 2014-15 season with the Sound Tigers. It was halfway through his first year that Pelech’s abilities became apparent to Thompson.

“Just his vision and his hockey sense and his stick. Just the way he defended,” Thompson said. “We were playing top teams in the American League and throwing him out as a rookie against some of the top American League players. He was doing a heck of a job shutting them down with just his defensive reads, physicality and again that stick was dangerous.”

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

New York Islanders Make Depth Signing, Ink Goaltender Francis Marotte to Deal

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Francis Marotte

Goaltender Francis Marotte signed with the New York Islanders, the 25-year-old announced on his Instagram page Friday night.

Marotte is a former goaltender at Robert Morris University and Clarkson University. During his senior year at Clarkson, Marotte had a .938 save percentage and a 1.78 goals-against average. The 6’1” goalie went 23-8-3 during the 2019-20 season.

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It was Marotte’s best collegiate season since his freshman year at Robert Morris, when he went 17-8-3 and posted a .931 save percentage.

“Words can’t explain how grateful I am for every single one of you,” Marotte wrote in the post announcing the signing. “I wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere in hockey if it wasn’t for all the support.”

Francis Marotte had been a three-year starter at Robert Morris before transferring to Clarkson using his graduate transfer option. He was invited to the Washington Capitals development in 2018.

It’s unknown the terms of the deal or if it’s an NHL two-way contract or an AHL deal. The Islanders already have four goaltenders at training camp on Long Island.

Ilya Sorokin, Semyon Varlamov, Cory Schneider and Jakub Skarek have all been on the ice this past week in East Meadow.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are light on goaltenders so adding more depth to the organization would make sense. The Sound Tigers will take part in the upcoming AHL season, which is expected to begin in February.

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Simon Holmstrom Records Two Assists for Sweden in WJC Opener

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Simon Holmstrom
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Simon Holmstrom got off to a good start in his first appearance at the IIHF World Junior Championships.

The Islanders prospect and Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward had a pair of assists in Sweden’s 7-1 tournament-opening win over the Czech Republic. Holmstrom’s first assist of the game came on Sweden’s second goal of the game.

Simon Holmstrom’s shot from the faceoff circle went wide of the net and then bounced right to Albin Sundsvik for the goal. He finished off the two-point afternoon with an assist on Sweden’s final goal of the game with 2:23 left in the third period and Sweden on the power play.

“For (Holmstrom) he knows the small rink may be better than most of our guys,” Sweden’s head coach Joel Ronnmark said. “He has been playing over here in North America, so he has a lot of experience he can share with the group. I think he’s a skilled player. Fun for that unit to have a goal on the power play as well and for him I as well I think it’s a good start.”

Holmstrom’s familiarity with the smaller rink comes from his time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season.

The win helped Sweden extend their unbeaten streak in the World Juniors preliminary round to 53 games. It is a particularly impressive feat considering Sweden has had to deal with a rash of COVID-19 related issues, which included not being able to play any pre-tournament games.

Sweden spent a mere 32 seconds trailing the Czech Republic all game.

“At the beginning (of the game) perhaps some parts a bit rusty,” Ronnmark said. “The longer the game went I liked the way we started to play. … Good start and we’ll go from there.”

Fellow Islanders prospect Matias Rajaniemi appeared in Finland’s first game on Christmas day. Rajaniemi appeared in 3:51 of Finland’s 5-3 win over Germany.

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Oliver Wahlstrom Headed Back to US Ahead of Expected NHL Start

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Oliver Wahlstrom
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

It has to be a good omen.

Oliver Wahlstrom is headed back to the United States in preparation for the start of the 2021 NHL season. AIK announced that Wahlstrom was headed back to the States on Monday afternoon. Wahlstrom also posted the news on his social media accounts.

Wahlstrom’s return is another sign of an anticipated deal between the NHL and Players Association to get a season up and running in a short time. The league is aiming to start play on Jan. 13 with training camps opening on Jan. 2 for most teams.

The Islanders prospect has been playing for AIK in Sweden’s second division. Wahlstrom appeared in 10 games for AIK and had four goals and four assists in that span. He was one of several Islanders prospects that had been sent overseas to continue to play while the league figured out their plan for next season.

Oliver Wahlstrom had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 45 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season. He finished the year with eight points (five goals, three assists) over the final 12 games before COVID-19 halted things.

“Early in the year there was a lot of turnovers and swings,” Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson told NYI Hockey Now earlier this year. “He can handle the physical goings so he used his body a little bit more later in the year.”

The current cap crunch the Islanders find themselves in means that more than ever Wahlstrom has a chance at cracking the opening night lineup this year for New York. He did appear in nine games in the NHL last season before being sent back down to Bridgeport.

Wahlstrom is known as a goalscorer and that was starting to come through before the pandemic halted the AHL season. The Islanders will need someone with that skill set and with the limited cap space they have, that will most likely come internally this season.

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