Sound Tigers Ready For Season Opener

Sound Tigers begin season Friday at Connecticut; first home game Saturday vs. Providence

Thursday, 10.11.2012 / 4:10 PM ET / News
By Travis Betts
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Sound Tigers Ready For Season Opener
Sound Tigers begin season Friday at Connecticut; first home game Saturday vs. Providence
Forward Johan Sundstrom will make his Sound Tigers debut Friday (Photo: New York Islanders)

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers wrapped up Training Camp at Iceworks on Thursday, focusing on special teams before making the trip to Connecticut for the start of the regular season. The Sound Tigers open 2012-13 in Hartford against the rival Connecticut Whale on Friday, Oct. 12, before coming home to face the Providence Bruins the following night.

Friday’s game is the first of 10 between the in-state rivals. Last season, the Sound Tigers won 6-of-10 regular season matchups against Connecticut, but bowed out to their foes in the first round of the playoffs, something that defenseman Aaron Ness hasn’t forgotten about.

“There’s some history there, especially after last year,” Ness said. “It’s obviously fresh in our minds, so it should be a good test for us right away.”

Head Coach Scott Pellerin believes that Friday’s combination of Opening Night and the rivalry is the best way for players to get past their early jitters.

“I think everybody’s going to be ramped up and the energy level is going to be high,” Pellerin said. “I think it’s going to be a great way to start and set a mark on our season and challenge ourselves as a team.”

The first-year head coach has had just two weeks and two exhibition games since the beginning of Training Camp to implement his system and get the team up to speed. After those two weeks of evaluation, he is excited about this year’s squad.

“Defensive zone play, defensive structure and communication are the keys to our system,” Pellerin said. “I feel the guys have really bought into what we want to accomplish as a team. We did the homework so now we’re going to take the test.”

Thursday’s practice didn’t conclude with the typical bag skate the players have grown accustomed to under Pellerin. The squad worked less on conditioning and more on strategy to prepare for Friday.

“We’ve tried to taper it down a little bit because of the game tomorrow night,” Pellerin said. “We have an event tonight at Webster Bank Arena with our season ticket holders and the guys will be coming into town for that to get settled. We have a pregame skate and then we’re on the bus to Hartford. Things are moving really quickly so the way we practiced today was by design.”

Thursday night’s season ticket holder event will be the first team event in Bridgeport. For several rookies, like Johan Sundstrom, it will also be the first chance to see their new home.

“I’ve never been to Bridgeport but tonight we’ll get to go there and see the arena,” Sundstrom said. “I heard that it’s big and it’s nice so I’m looking forward to it.”

The Gothenburg, SWE native is ready to make his North American debut after playing the last two seasons in the Swedish Elite League.

“I’m really excited about this,” Sundstrom said. “I played two exhibition games, which was good for me. But I’ve got some butterflies in my stomach for sure. It’s going to be a rough game, a physical game and hopefully a fun game.”

Ness, who was a rookie in 2011-12, can’t wait for the puck to drop Friday night.

“You can only practice for so long before the itch comes back,” Ness said. “Everyone’s getting that feel for each other during practice and I think we’re ready system-wise. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Before the Sound Tigers take the ice Friday, Pellerin has to set a lineup, something he says is still up in the air. The team has 16 forwards and eight defensemen, but only 18 skaters will be dressed for the game.

“Having the extra depth that we have in our lineup, it makes for some tough decisions,” Pellerin said. “I’m sure everybody’s kind of wondering what’s going to happen here. Our staff has to have a couple more meetings and then we’ll make the best lineup that we can for the weekend.”

ON THE SAME PAGE | MAKING THE JUMP | SOUND TIGERS TRAINING CAMP BLOG

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HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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