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2005 New York Islanders Prospect Camp Coverage

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Islanders Show Fans They Still Care,

Opening The Doors To The Public For The 2005 Islanders Prospect Camp

 

By Patrick Hickey Jr

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Young Islanders Prospects Getting Ready For A Scrimmage

25 days before the regular season begins, the New York Islanders shared in celebrating the return of hockey to the Long Island and greater New York area by opening the doors of their practice facility to 1,500 of their loyal fans during the Islanders Prospect Camp on September 10.

 

Islanders Prospects from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States battled it out in a fierce scrimmage that saw Team Gray beat Team Blue 5-4. Chris Campoli had a goal and three assists for Team Gray, with speedy forward Luciano Aquino helping out with a goal during the scrimmage and also showed his dazzling skating ability in the speed drills before the scrimmage.

 

Islanders 2002 first round draft pick Sean Bergenheim put on a skating clinic as well, scoring two goals in the scrimmage for Team Blue. Bruno Gervais also played a solid overall game for Team Blue, showing why he almost made the team as a 19-year old in 2003.

 

Islander fans also had the rare opportunity to see Islanders 2003 and 2004 first round draft picks Robert Nilsson (Older hockey fans may remember Robert’s father, Kent who was an extremely gifted playmaking center for the Flames in the early 80’s) and Petteri Nokelainen in action.

 

This event was a great opportunity for the die hard fan to see the young guns of the Islanders play before they step on the ice in the NHL. On the ice were camp invitees like Finnish goalie Tuomas Tarkki, hulking six foot six defenseman Paul Flache and top Islander prospects Dustin Kohn, Blake Comeau and Masi Majamaki.

 

Before the prospect scrimmage, Islanders and Islanders AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers veterans like Janne Ninimaa, Oleg Kvasha, Kevin Colley, Wade Dubielewicz, Shawn Bates and Eric Godard joined new Islander Brad Lukowich in a short practice and autograph signing that connected the fans to their favorite players as not one fan waited more than five minutes to spend some time with an Islander player.

 

"Amazing turnout," said Islanders GM Mike Milbury on Islanders.com “You keep hearing the skeptics wonder whether the fans are ready to come back to the NHL. All they have to do is be here to get their answer. Our fans really are a special group."

 

Patrick Hickey Jr. also has his own new Islanders site, TheDriveForFive.com, where he is chronicling the Islanders 2006 season. The site is also updated everyday, so check it out!

New Rule Changes Promoting Offense, Islanders Defense Ready To Play

 

By Patrick Hickey Jr

 

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Janne Ninimaa and the Isles look ready for the 2005-2006 season

With the bevy of new rule changes this year in the NHL, one can expect many teams to try and take advantage of them. Teams will be using their skilled skaters to make the most of the new spacious offensive zone; with defensive cores trying to find a way to stifle them.

 

“I think these new rules should really provide teams with more offense. Teams with good puck moving defensemen like the Islanders should really benefit too, creating more goals,” said Former Islander Sergei Nemchinov.

 

Nemchinov isn’t the only one that feels this way; NHL officials have been preaching that the new rules would lead to more offense for a game that thanks to the New Jersey Devils, Jacques Lemaire and the neutral zone trap, has become a lot more about strategy and a lot less about speed.

 

“I think it’s really going to open things up. Teams are going to start playing different systems and defenses are going to back up,” said Islanders Forward Kevin Colley. “The defense is going to have to make sure no one slips in behind them with all that extra room out there. It’s going to be exciting to watch.”

 

The Islanders, during the last NHL season in 2003-2004, were a team that deployed the neutral zone trap. But unlike many of the other teams that used the system, the Islanders were blessed to have defensemen like Kenny Jonsson, Adrian Aucoin, Roman Hamrlik and Janne Ninimaa that have the ability to play great defense and add some offense as well. With the new rules that basically eliminate the use of the trap and three of the Islanders top four defenseman no longer with the team, the new Islanders defensive core is going to have to step it up for the Islanders to succeed.

 

“It’s (The new rules) going to affect the game a little bit; the icing rule and the two-line pass most of all. You’re going to have go after the puck a lot more than previously,” said Islanders defenseman Janne Ninimaa. “The fact that the goalie can’t play the puck (outside the new trapezoidal zone behind the net where the goalie can play the puck) is big for us too because Ricky (Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro) likes to play the puck a lot, so we’re going to have to get it for him. I want to see how they (the referees) call these new rules. The game is going to be different, but it’s really hard to say how different.  I don’t think though that it’s going to affect anyone’s numbers. I played with these kinds of rules back home and the game’s not that different because of them.”

 

“The game is going to be a lot quicker and it’s going to give the defense an opportunity to play some more offense. I think it’s going to cause an increased awareness in the game, no more lollygagging up and down the ice,” said Brad Lukowich, a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, whom the Islanders signed as a free agent in August to fill the void left by former Islander defenseman Kenny Jonsson deciding to stay in Sweden for the 2005-2006 season.

 

With new additions like Brent Sopel, Alexei Zhitnik and Brad Lukowich to the Islanders defense core, the Islanders will have to find a way to quickly come up with on-ice chemistry to provide the stability needed to limit opposing offences. This would usually be a bad sign for many teams, but the Islanders defense doesn’t seem staggered by the lack of time they’ve had to play together.

 

“I haven’t really thought about it yet (Who he’s playing with on defense), every time you bring in new guys it’s a challenge to make things work,” said Ninimaa. “The main thing is with all the new guys we have, we really have to find that way to make things work. Things are going to work; training camp will give us time for things to fall into place.”

 

The rest of the Islanders defense feels pretty much the same way.

 

“It doesn’t really matter who I’m paired with,” said Lukowich. Their all good players that have made names for themselves, I’m just looking forward to playing again really.”

 

Hockey fans are looking forward to it just as much.

 

The Islanders begin the regular season on October 5 against the Buffalo Sabres.

 

One of the Islanders who I got a quote from for this story, Kevin Colley recently injured his neck seriously and required surgery. Below is a link to a page of letters on Newyorkislanders.com wishing him the best. Yours truly's dedication to Colley is featured on there as well. From the bottom of my heart, I wish Kevin the best.

 

The Official Site of the New York Islanders - Pre-Game Article

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To comment on the following articles, E-mail Mr.Hickey @PatrickHickeyJr@yahoo.com