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Islanders very physical in first rookie game

Wednesday, 09.15.2010 / 11:01 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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If there was one word to describe this, the first hockey game of the season it would be physical. Checks crushed skaters into the boards, gloves were dropped left and right and blood was drawn on a few separate occasions. If there was ever a first game of the season to be had, this was definitely it.

“My biggest word was fun. It’s a lot of fun to be playing a hockey game again,” said Islanders rookie forward Robin Figren. “It was the first game of the year for all of us and the puck was bouncing around all over the place but it was still lots of fun and I thought it was a good pace. I think we did a good job.”

Even though the Islanders rookies fell 5-2 against the Bruins rookies on Wednesday night, the teams’ spirits weren’t down and the morale wasn’t lost.

“Yeah, obviously when you’re in these situations and you’re not coming out victorious, I think you just want to get right back at it,” said Islanders rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic. “I think if you went around the locker room right now, a lot of the guys would want to get right back at it, get back up and go play again tonight. We’re an eager bunch and we’re definitely going to be looking forward to tomorrow.”

The physicality of the game couldn’t be missed so it was no surprise that Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon had a little something to say post game.

“It’s a contact sport and it’s certainly not something that we would discourage, we want our players to play physical,” Gordon said. “They responded and stuck up for each other and that’s part of being a team.”

Proving themselves as a team is exactly what the Isles did.

Early in the second period the Bruins netted their first goal when Jordan Caron knocked one in. When Hamonic realized the team’s momentum was a little down, he instigated a fight with Antoine Roussel at 2:58 of the second period, which resulted in both teams first five minute fighting majors of the night.

“You could see the momentum kind of sliding in their favor a little bit and that’s a part of the game that I like to bring,” Hamonic said. “It’s not something I’m scared to do and I like doing it. For me, I just really tried to do it for the guys and put some momentum back in our favor.”

No doubt the Islanders rookies were on fire after that. The energy level was high as both teams fought to find the back of the net. The second period continued to be a fast paced game. With neither team really dominating the play, Islanders rookie Alex O’Neil got in a tilt with Bruins defenseman Ryan Donald, at 5:04 of the second and Donald ended up leaving the ice a little sore.

His manouvers may have something to do with the professional advice he garnered from Islanders tough guy Trevor Gillies before the prospects got on the bus for Boston. After all the prospects left the ice after their morning skate at Iceworks, Gillies gave O’Neil a few tips on how to handle himself.

“(Gillies) didn’t really tell me what to expect. He just showed me what to do in certain situations and how to get out of difficult situations,” said O’Neil, who took direction well. “You have to listen to him because he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s been in the league a while.”

The Isles forward continued and said, “It was great though, you saw everyone on the team sticking up for each other and it was just nice to watch even though you can kind of get a little bit out of a hand.”

The Islanders prospects were all skating hard, working together when Bruins prospect Max Sauve tapped in his own rebound off of Mikko Koskinen, resulting in the second goal of the night. Then at 11:01, Isles powerhouse and fifth overall 2010 NHL draft pick Nino Niederreiter netted the first goal for the Islanders off a tip from Hamonic.

“It was a great feeling, full of emotion,” Niederreiter said about scoring his first goal. “Like I said, I was pretty nervous because whether you’re wearing an NHL jersey or junior hockey jersey, the game was just fantastic.”

The game continued to be rough on both sides of the puck and the crowd was thoroughly enjoying all of it when Bruins prospect Lane MacDermid earned a breakaway, netting a goal over Koskinen’s right shoulder.

As the second period came to an end, the score may have had the Islanders down three-one, but they hadn’t given up hope. The Bruins only led shots 26-24.

Penalties continued to soar throughout the game and the intensity level only increased when Islanders rookie Robin Figren netted a goal at 7:44 of the third period, closing the gap on the Bruins 3-2 lead.

Neiderreiter, who watched as him teammate David Ullstrom was taking checks from the Bruins, then dropped his gloves for his first hockey fight. At 8:39 of the third period, Niederreiter and Tyler Randell were sent to the penalty box, both receiving five minutes for fighting.

“Just like I saw that Ullstrom was in a little bit of trouble so I tried to help him out,” Niederreiter said. “It was my first fight so I had no idea what to do. I tried my best to kind of kick some (butt).”

Bruins forward Joe Colborne left the ice bleeding and a little wobbly at 10:07 after receiving an elbow to the nose. As a result, Islanders rookie Justin Dibenedetto received a game misconduct and a five minute major penalty.

Bruins rookie Jordan Caron then netted his second goal of the night on the power play, propelling the Bs to a 4-2 lead.

With second left on the clock, Jordan Caron earned an empty netter resulting in a 5-2 victory for the Bruins. Even though the B's pulled out the win, the Islanders prospects still had a great time and are looking forward to tomorrow night’s showing.

Hamonic concluded, “It definitely wasn’t a five-two game tonight. There were a lot of good chances on both ends of the rink and they buried them and we didn’t. The best part is we get to go right back at them again tomorrow.”




J. Tavares 78 33 37 6 70
K. Okposo 79 22 42 -4 64
F. Nielsen 81 20 32 1 52
B. Nelson 81 26 14 -3 40
N. Leddy 81 5 35 -9 40
A. Lee 80 15 21 -2 36
J. Bailey 81 12 20 -7 32
C. Cizikas 80 8 21 4 29
R. Strome 71 8 20 -9 28
M. Grabovski 58 9 16 3 25
T. Greiss 23 11 4 .925 2.36
J. Halak 18 13 4 .919 2.30
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