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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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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

GOING CAMPING: Ladd, Kuhnhackl Headed to AHL Training Camp

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Andrew Ladd

The mystery of what the New York Islanders plan to do with Andrew Ladd and Tom Kuhnhackl appeared to be solved on Saturday.

The two NHLers will report to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers when they open training camp. The Islanders AHL affiliate released its training camp roster on Saturday morning.

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Sending Ladd’s contract to the AHL will save the Islanders around $1 million in salary cap money. Andrew Ladd is in the fifth year of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal he signed in 2016. The contract carries a 5.5 million AAV but that will come down with him in the minors.

Andrew Ladd played 34 games last season in the AHL with the Sound Tigers and two the year prior.

The veteran forward has struggled to find a place in the Islanders lineup. He has appeared in only 30 games over the last two seasons, with just four goals and 12 points.

Kuhnhackl has played 64 games since joining the Islanders in 2018. He appeared in four games last season with the Sound Tigers.

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Bridgeport Sound Tigers to Play Condensed 24 Game Schedule This Season

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers home hockey arena
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers will play this season, but like their NHL counterparts, it will be in front of an empty arena.

The AHL released its 2021 schedule on Friday for what league president Scott Howson described as “a season unlike any other in our 85-year history.” The Sound Tigers will play 24 games this year and only face the Providence Bruins and Hartford Wolfpack.

The Sound Tigers are playing in the smallest of the five AHL divisions this season, with only two other teams in it.

Bridgeport will play all of its home games at Webster Bank Arena, but no fans will be allowed in the building. The team is providing season ticket holders with complimentary subscriptions to AHLTV this season, the Sound Tigers said in a press release.

“While we would be thrilled to have an arena full of cheering fans watching the Sound Tigers play, the health and safety of our fans, players and employees remain the organization’s top priority,” Bridgeport President of Business Operations Brent Rossi said in a media release. “In accordance with state and local protocols regarding public gatherings, the team will play without fans in attendance. All games will continue to be broadcast live through the AHLTV platform and the team’s online radio network.”

The Sound Tigers will open the season on the road against Providence on Feb. 5. They won’t play their first home game until Feb.13 when they host Providence at Webster Bank Arena.

“Our priorities are first and foremost health and safety,” Howson said in a statement about the upcoming season. “Our main objective is to provide a safe environment for our players to continue their development towards a career in the National Hockey League.”

The AHL had been working towards putting together some form of a season for some time now. Three of its member clubs relocated for the 2020-21 season, including Providence which will play in Marlborough, Mass.

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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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