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Full Speed Ahead

Even after solid 2011-12 season, Ullstrom still has a lot to prove

Wednesday, 10.03.2012 / 7:26 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Full Speed Ahead
Even after solid 2011-12 season, Ullstrom still has a lot to prove
David Ullstrom led the Sound Tigers with 24 goals in 2011-12 despite playing only 40 games (Photo: New York Islanders)

Despite leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in goals last year, David Ullstrom cannot afford to rest on his laurels. His 24 tallies in 2011-12 turned heads around the AHL, and he challenged for the league lead for much of the season.

Ullstrom’s goal totals are especially remarkable when you consider he played 29 games in the NHL with the Islanders. The Jonkoping, SWE native was with the parent club down the stretch last season, scoring four goals and four assists. Now he finds himself in Sound Tigers Training Camp with the task of proving that he's an elite scorer once again, this time to Head Coach Scott Pellerin and the rest of the coaching staff.

“He’s one of the guys who has impressed me the most,” Pellerin said. “He’s really brought his conditioning to another level and handled his offseason training like a true professional. His skating tests as well as his off-ice testing were off the charts. You can really see the commitment level.”

Perhaps it was the work ethic nearly every pro athlete has to have to make it to the top, and maybe it was the taste of the NHL that fueled Ullstrom to take his conditioning to another level this summer. Whether it’s in the NHL or AHL, the third-year pro has clear goals in mind.

“I need to work on my consistency level,” Ullstrom said. “There’s a lot of games in the season, so I want to play my best every single night and try to be one of the best players out there every night. I want to be a better hockey player, and obviously I want to continue scoring a lot of goals.”

The 23-year-old forward played three seasons at the beginning of his career with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League, increasing his goal total to five during the 2009-10 campaign. It wasn’t until he joined the Sound Tigers in 2010-11 that his offensive output took off, and he ranked fourth on the team with 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in his first season in North America. He increased his scoring pace to 30 points (24 goals, six assists) in 40 games last season.

Sound Tigers forward Casey Cizikas says he benefitted from the times he played on a line with Ullstrom.

“He was definitely one of our most dangerous offensive players,” Cizikas said. “When you have a guy like him playing on your team, it definitely makes it easier because you know if you get him the puck, he’s going to make something happen. He’s fun to play with.”

So far during Training Camp, Ullstrom has been centering a line with Colin McDonald and John Persson, a departure from his role last season, when he was playing on the wing. Ullstrom has a history of playing in the middle, and says that no matter the position, he will step in and do his best to produce.

“I was playing wing all last year,” Ullstrom said. “I don’t know how it’s going to work this year, but if the coach wants me at center, that’s where I’ll play. I’m familiar with the center position. I’ve just got to do my best wherever I play.”

Cizikas watched Ullstrom make the original transition from center to wing in Bridgeport, and remembered how the switch helped the 6’3, 192-pound forward take advantage of his natural skill set.

“He handled the move well,” Cizikas said. “He’s got unbelievable speed going down the wing. He burned a lot of defensemen out wide. He’s real dangerous on the side.”

While Ullstrom has certainly proved he has the speed and shot to play in the top league, Pellerin wants to see him – and everyone else in camp – work hard at playing a sound overall game.

“I’m going to demand that he be a 200-foot hockey player who can play at both ends of the rink,” Pellerin said. “Obviously with the pace of our game, his offensive skill is going to come out and he’s going to be asked to take on a real strong role on the offensive side of the puck. But he’s going to have to be a fully-rounded hockey player to get to the next level.”

SOUND TIGERS VISIT U.S. MARINES
| NIEDERREITER FINDING HIS GROOVE | TRAINING CAMP BLOG

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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