QUITE A DEBUT FOR O'MARRA
First game, first shot, first goal!
That's how Ryan O'Marra-- the Islanders' first pick in last summer's NHL Entry Draft --began his professional career this past Friday. In fact, the 18-year old did all the scoring, tallying twice on the power play, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers lost 4-2 on the road to the AHL's defending Calder Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Phantoms.
O'Marra drove through traffic in slot to bang home the rebound of a shot by defenseman Allan Rourke with 4:05 left in the first period for his first goal, then took a pretty feed from Rob Collins and slipped a backhander home early in the third period for his second.
"It was an unbelievable feeling, but I wish we would have gotten the win," O'Marra told newyorkislanders.com after the game. "But my goals were a credit to who I played with tonight. They made feel welcome on the ice, and the bounces went my way."
"It was a pretty impressive debut," Sound Tigers head coach Dave Baseggio said. "He's a first-round pick for a reason, but to come in an play that well in his first game was really something to see. The more I see of him, the more I like about him. We're really lucky to have him."
O'Marra combined his nose for the net with what is quickly becoming a Midas touch the next night in his first home game with the Sound Tigers as he redirected a shot by Cole Jarrett for the first goal of the game against the Providence Bruins. On Sunday, the 6'2'' 200-pound center added "efficient" to the long list of superlatives that describe his game when he scored right off a faceoff just three seconds into a power play.
"You can't ask too much of an 18-year coming into the AHL," said Baseggio, "even someone as highly-touted and obviously talent like Ryan. But he has really been impressive and he's fit in well with the rest of the team. He has contributed right away and it looks like he'll be an inportant player for us as we make our push for the playoffs."
O'Marra will get his first taste of the pressures of playoff hockey at the professional level when he and the Sound Tigers travel to Binghamton to visit the Senators this Friday at 7:05 p.m. After earning two points in the standings this past weekend, due in large part to O'Marra's play, the Sound Tigers hold a magic number of four points gained by them or lost by Binghamton to clinch a playoff berth. So, O'Marra will try to up his goal-scoring streak to four in the very definition of a four-point game.