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Bridgeport Islanders

Bridgeport Gearing Up for Playoffs, ‘We Know How Good Of A Team We Have Here’

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Bridgeport Islanders

The New York Islanders will not be vying for the 2022 Stanley Cup. But their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders, will be competing for the Calder Cup starting Monday against the Providence Bruins.

Back on Apr. 22, the Bridgeport Islanders clinched a postseason berth, sneaking in as the sixth and final seed in the Atlantic Division.

Locked In: Bridgeport Is Headed to the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs

Their season came to a close on Apr. 23, a 3-2 loss to the Hartford Wolfpack as Bridgeport ended their season with a 31-30-7-4 record.

“A lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity that we faced throughout this year and it’s really rewarding that we work our way into the playoffs,” veteran Seth Hegelson said. “That’s something that we can be proud of, not taking it for granted though. We got Province coming up and take it one game at a time. So it’s an exciting time. And just getting ready for game one.”

Providence finished their season as the no. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division, with a record of 36-23-5-6, and have home-ice advantage for their best-of-three series against Bridgeport.

“Providence is one of the hardest work in hockey teams,” Bridgeport head coach Brett Thompson said Thursday following practice. “They’re always physical, they’re big. They are aggressive. They’re really a lot like, you know, Boston as far as how aggressive they play. And, you know, I look at our matchup against them (6-4-0-2)…I’m not worried at all.”

“I think we play our game. We focus on our structure, our habits that we want to do, it’s going to be a war right to the end because you know, they compete hard. I think it’s going to be a pretty evenly matched series.”

Being underdogs is nothing new for the New York Islanders organization, as the big club has been underdogs over their last two playoff runs. With the talent up and down the Bridgeport Islanders, entering as an ‘underdog’ is something that is being embraced.

“Listen, we earned the right to be there,” Thompson said. “We are definitely the underdogs. And our guys are embracing that role. We feel as a group here that we are just as good as any team, and on any given night, we’re gonna win.”

I asked Chris Terry, a 33-year-old veteran and Bridgeport’s leading point-getter this season (61 points), what the identity of this Islander team is.

“Probably resilient,” Terry said. “I think just taking our season as a whole, you know, the struggles we had early on you know, I feel like we struggled to be in tight games where instead of finding ways to win, we were finding ways to lose, and then I think maturity, as a group, we learned as the season went along.”

“I think you know, January one on, a lot of games that we lost in the first half, we were winning, whether they were one-goal, two-goal games. So I think we’re just a resilient bunch. I don’t think there’s ever a game that we’re out of.”

Austin Czarnik, a player who played 15 games for the Islanders this season, six for the Seattle Kraken, voiced the excitement to be in the postseason.

“Exciting. I think everyone’s excited to be here,” Czarnik said.  “You know, we worked hard to this whole last stretch of the season and we didn’t give up and, you know, we got rewarded like Hellegson said and, you know, the job’s not done yet. We start this week, but we’re just excited to be here and for the opportunity to play for the Calder.”

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