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.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 6 2 4 3 6
J. Bailey 6 2 3 2 5
N. Leddy 6 0 5 1 5
R. Strome 6 2 1 1 3
K. Okposo 6 2 1 1 3
C. Clutterbuck 6 2 1 2 3
B. Nelson 5 2 0 1 2
N. Kulemin 6 1 1 0 2
L. Visnovsky 4 0 2 5 2
J. Boychuk 6 0 2 1 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 3 3 1 .926 2.34
M. Neuvirth 0 0 0 1.000 0.00

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