Seizing the moment

Casey Cizikas brings his gritty game to the next level as he makes his NHL debut tonight

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 12:38 PM ET / News
By Katrina Doell
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Seizing the moment

Casey Cizikas was surrounded by media and grinning from ear-to-ear, a reaction that can be expected from a 20-year-old standing for the first time in an NHL locker room. In the midst of his first year of professional hockey, the 5-11, 192 pound center received his first NHL call up yesterday and will be in the lineup tonight when the Islanders look to earn two big points in their playoff hunt from their cross town rivals, the New York Rangers.

Casey Cizikas, a self-described gritty player, looks to make contribute and add spark in his NHL debut tonight.

His energy seemed contagious, and he is looking to contribute.

“Tonight I have to focus on what I have to do out there to try to make this team successful,” Cizikas said. I am going to try to help them in every way possible.”

Cizikas will center Brian Rolston and Matt Martin, and his style of play could really spark the line and compliment the game of his linemates.

“I try to get the puck deep, I try to muck and grind,” Cizikas said. “I don’t think I’m the prettiest player out there, but those dirty goals are my type of goals. I try to block shots and do the little things to help out there…I work down low and take the body.”

In Bridgeport, Cizikas is having the rookie year dreams are made of. He leads the Sound Tigers in scoring with 44 points (15g/29a) and has a rating of plus-25. In January, he was named to the AHL All-Star team.

When he got the call from Sound Tigers Head Coach Brent Thompson that he was headed to Long Island, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Coach Tommer called me and told me,” Cizikas said. “I said ‘are you kidding me right now?’ I called my parents right away, and they were definitely excited too.”

Performing the way that he has for the Sound Tigers, the Islanders fourth round (92nd overall) selection in the 2009 entry draft, seemed like a perfect candidate to get the call up to the big squad.

“It’s always in the back of your mind thinking, ‘is it my time?’” Cizikas said. ”But I was having such a good time there that I wasn’t thinking about it. The guys that we have there make it a lot easier. The team that we have had a lot of guys called up, Ullie (David Ullstrom), Rhett  (Rakhshani), Jeremy Colliton, Hales (Micheal Haley), Gills (Trevor Gillies)…we’ve had a lot of guys who have played in the NHL. It was a surprise when I got the call.  

Supporting him at the game tonight, one of the biggest games of his young career, will be several members of his family, who were already headed down from Mississauga, ON to see him play in Bridgeport.

“It’s huge,” Cizikas said of tonight’s game. “I don’t think anything can prepare you for what is about to come tonight. I’m playing against some great players on the other side and it’s going to be fun playing with the guys on this team. We’ve got great players on this team, and I hope I don’t make too many mistakes out there.”

He will celebrate his 21st birthday on Monday, and the call-up can be looked at as a pretty good gift. Getting the win would be the icing on the cake.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 75 34 40 -1 74
R. Strome 74 15 31 19 46
K. Okposo 53 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 74 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 75 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 69 23 16 14 39
J. Bailey 63 15 23 6 38
J. Boychuk 65 8 25 10 33
T. Hamonic 65 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 71 10 19 16 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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