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Homecoming for McDonald, DeFazio

Sound Tigers hit the road to take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Oct. 20

Wednesday, 10.17.2012 / 11:04 AM / News
By Travis Betts
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Homecoming for McDonald, DeFazio
Sound Tigers hit the road to take on Wilkes-Barre\/Scranton Penguins Oct. 20
Colin McDonald was the Penguins' third-leading scorer last season with 49 points in 68 games (Photo: New York Islanders)

After a successful 2-0-0-0 weekend to begin the 2012-13 American Hockey League season, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers play just one game this weekend, a Saturday road tilt against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The contest should be a good early test for the Sound Tigers, who face a squad that has averaged 104 points per season since 2005-06. For forwards Colin McDonald and Brandon DeFazio, the game is doubly important: It marks the first time they will face their former team.

McDonald played 68 games last season for the Penguins, leading the team with 35 assists and finishing third in scoring with 49 points. The 6’2, 217-pound forward is eager to visit his old stomping grounds.

“It’s the first time in my career where I’ll be playing against the team I played for the previous year,” McDonald, a six-year AHL veteran, said. “Of course I’m hoping to play well and hoping the team can get a win. It’ll be exciting to go back. They have great fans and a great group of guys. I’m still close with a lot of them. It should be a fun night.”

The Penguins are 0-1-0-0 after their opening night 2-1 loss at Binghamton on Oct. 13. Saturday’s game will be their home opener, something McDonald knows will have the Penguins ready for battle.

“They’re going to be ready to play,” McDonald said. “Obviously they know that me and Faz (Brandon DeFazio) will be in their building. It’s their home opener, so they’re definitely looking to make sure we don’t walk out of there with two points.”

DeFazio played his entire AHL career with the Penguins prior to last Friday’s Sound Tigers’ season-opener. The Oakville, ON native skated in two games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2010-11 and spent the entire 2011-12 season with them, registering 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 66 games. DeFazio acknowledges the significance of going against his former team, but wants to treat them with the same intensity as any other opponent.

“Obviously it’s an important game to me,” DeFazio said. “Anytime you face your old teammates and your old friends, people you spent time with, it’s important to show your best. But I’m just going to take it like another game for now and prepare like normal.”

DeFazio, who racked up 104 penalty minutes as a gritty forward last season, knows as well as anybody how prepared Penguins Head Coach John Hines will have his team on Saturday.

“They’re going to be ready,” DeFazio said. “They’re a good, disciplined, hard-working team. Looking at them over the years, even before my time there, that’s what you expect from them. It’s their season opener. They get good crowds there and I’m sure they’re going to be excited to play. This is a big opportunity against a good hockey team. We’ve got a good team here as well, so that’ll make for a good game.”

The Penguins have 10 new players on their roster, but McDonald believes that his familiarity with their 15 returning players, as well the coaching staff, can give the Sound Tigers an edge.

“We’re looking for any advantage that we can get in any game,” McDonald said. “We have two guys who know their system pretty well, so I think it will help. There shouldn’t be many surprises but you still have to play the game and execute the game plan.”

DeFazio is also looking forward to the trip so he can share the best of Wilkes-Barre with his new teammates.

“We’ll probably hit up a few restaurants that me and Mac enjoyed,” DeFazio said. “We’ve got some good friends there who we’re looking forward to seeing around town. But this is a business trip and we’ve got a job to do.”

The puck will drop between the Sound Tigers and Penguins at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Follow @TheSoundTigers for live updates and check NewYorkIslanders.com for a full recap and highlights.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 63 29 35 4 64
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 63 14 26 21 40
B. Nelson 63 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 63 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 57 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 51 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 53 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 63 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 53 4 20 16 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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