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Bridgeport Islanders

Robin Salo Already Making Impact in AHL Bridgeport



Robin Salo of the New York Islanders

BRIDGEPORT, CT — Robin Salo took a pass at the line, spun and cut around a Springfield Thunderbirds defender before firing the puck on net for Saturday night’s game-winning goal for the Bridgeport Islanders. It capped an impressive effort by the Islanders defenseman in the team’s home opener that should have fans of the New York Islanders taking notice.

Salo made quite the impression during Islanders training camp and was one of the last players sent down to AHL Bridgeport. The spark that he has had in the preseason has only continued into the start of the Brideport Islanders season.

The 23-year-old has appeared in all five of Bridgeport’s games this season and his play in the offensive zone was as impressive as his abilities in the defensive zone. Robin Salo displayed his strong skating ability and the shooting skill that he has on the winning goal, but his play in both ends of the ice had been noticeable at different points of the night.

None of what Salo has done so far has come as much of a surprise to Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson. Salo is in his first season in North America and has adjusted quickly, which the Islanders scouting staff anticipated wouldn’t take long for him to do.

“He’s a kid with a lot of confidence right now. He’s poised with the puck, he makes good decisions by moving the puck, he moves his feet well, he defends well with his stick,” Thompson said. “I think the way he had such a good training camp, he’ kind of built off of that and he’s continued it down here. We like to see the consistency night in and night out with that. Hopefully, he continues that.”

There were plenty of examples on Saturday of Salo’s defensive prowess. Moments before he scored the winner he broke up a Springfield rush by positioning himself well and not allowing the shot to get through to the net.

In the second period with Springfield on a 2-on-1 and Salo as the only defender back, he read the play perfectly to deflect a cross-ice pass into the corner. And earlier in the game, Salo was in perfect positioning in front of the net to calmly break up a pass attempt to the slot.

While this may be Salo’s first season in the AHL, he’s played against plenty of talented players overseas in Liiga in Finland and the Swedish Hockey League. He had 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) with Orebro HK last season and with two points on Saturday appears to be picking up with Bridgeport where he left of in the SHL.

Still, Salo is noticing the difference between the two leagues

“It’s different hockey for sure,” Salo said. “It’s a smaller rink and less time, so just have to be quick with the decisions you do and try to keep your head up. It’s a little more physical too. I feel like I’m getting there. I’m getting used to it so it’s going to be a little bit better now when I get used to this league.”

The Finnish defenseman still wants to improve his defensive game on the ice. Salo said he wants to get some more time in the gym to work on his strength and improve the physical nature of his play.

“We knew he could move the puck, we knew he had a sound year over there in Europe,” Thompson said about Salo. “We kind of expected him to be able to come in and be able to make these plays and be able to move his feet. Just make the reads that he has. … He thinks the game at a high level and it’s fun to watch him.”