Want to get a first look at our young players in Manchester? Good news. We can watch them for free today thanks to the New York Islanders. A live stream of their preseason game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is scheduled to begin on their website five minutes before the puck drops (2:55 p.m. for those of us on the West coast).
Tigers vs. Monarchs Preview
Bridgeport Sound has a team filled with talented young players from the Islanders' highly rated prospect pool. Their strong top line of Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, and Kirill Kabanov is only the beginning. They already beat their first preseason opponent with the help of strong play by their goalie, Anders Nilsson, who stopped 34 of 35 shots. Lineup changes are expected from new head coach (and former Monarchs' assistant) Scott Pellerin, but he could be in net again tonight.
The Monarchs are also focused on player development, and there are a lot of new faces this year. They won't be used to playing with each other yet; some, like Tanner Pearson, are playing their first game as a pro. Tyler Toffoli will be teamed up with another skilled player in Linden Vey. Prokhorkin had his junior rights secured by a new team, the Barrie Colts, but he'll be trying to make the AHL. In addition, the Monarchs will be putting their new Sutter-style hockey into practice for the first time. Everyone seems excited to make the transition and leave Terry Murray's more rigid system behind. The new gameplan will let players make more of their own reads and require a high level of energy and commitment.
Preseason games are all about working out the kinks, but I'm excited to watch them together for the first time.
For more on the Sound Tigers, check out our friends at Lighthouse Hockey.
UPDATE: It's game time:
Take a gander. Go lions of the jungle.
FINAL SCORE: Monarchs win 2-0. Jordan Nolan scored in the early seconds of the third. Loktionov added the second when he pounced on a rebound and roofed it. Mitts were dropped. Nolan gets a Gordie Howe hat trick by fighting McIver. Manchester prevails. Woo.
Neither Voynov nor Prokhorkin played, but Prokhorkin was a late scratch. Note that we still haven't heard any official word on that KHL contract dispute.