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Bridgeport Islanders

Grit & Determination Defines Bridgeport Islanders Season



Bridgeport Islanders

The Bridgeport Islanders’ 2021-22 season was one that showcased grit and determination to sneak into an expanded postseason given COVID-19 interruptions. They finished their season with a 31-30-7-4 record, good for sixth place and the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Their season was similar to the New York Islanders back in 2019-20, who finished their season in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and got into the expanded postseason.

For the first time since 2003, the Bridgeport Islanders advanced past the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, sweeping the Providence Bruins with a pair of overtime winners. Their run in the Calder Cup Playoffs ended there but getting over that hump was huge for the organization.

“I think that was a huge hurdle that we had to overcome,” head coach Brent Thompson said in his exit interview. “We’ve been there a number of times and haven’t actually got the first-round win, so especially for the young guys, you know, seeing what it takes to get the win, to close a series out and move on and how intense the hockey is.”

“And even building up to it. I think we were playing playoff intensity hockey the last month and a half just to get the right to be in that.”

In their six-game postseason, 29-year-old Austin Czarnik led the way with three goals and seven assists.

The 52nd overall draft pick in 2021, Aatu Räty, joined the Bridgeport Islanders for their final two regular-season games but went pointless.

However, in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs against Providence (Bruins AHL affiliate), Räty notched an assist on the overtime tally to win Game 1 and then scored the overtime winner in Game 2.

“Well, it was a long year. It started out obviously with a lot of excitement and anticipation. The organization obviously had a lot of stress that it dealt with very early on, I thought our group in Bridgeport, with the coaching staff and training staff and certainly, the players did a great job of handling the stress,” Bridgeport general manager Chris Lamoriello said Thursday morning. “And fortunately, we had a pretty good March and April, end of February, that put us in position to battle for a playoff spot in a very competitive division.”

“And they were able to get in, I think, the second to last game of the season. And, you know, had the chance to play two very good teams in the playoffs and certainly disappointed on and off the ice. But we’re looking forward to building off of the experience and getting better.”

More on the growth of some of the youngsters as well as what the fanbase meant to the organization, specifically in the postseason, coming over the next few days at NYI Hockey Now as we round out our AHL coverage.