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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Sound Tigers-Penguins series begins Thursday in PA

by Chris Botta

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers had their one and only full practice today in preparation for their first round playoff series against Wilkes Barre/Scranton which begins tomorrow. There were 12 new faces -- no, that isn't a typo -- but no one was complaining.

Especially not first-year head coach Dave Baseggio.

"There was a lot of talent there, no doubt," Baseggio said this afternoon on the bus ride to Pennsylvania, where Game 1 is Thursday night. "I would be concerned about having twelve new players except for one thing: just about all of them have at one time been Sound Tigers. They know our system. They have played in the Islanders' system, which is consistent with ours. Everyone is comfortable with each other, so the transition is not as big an obstacle."

The two completely new faces are Jeff Tambellini and Denis Grebeshkov, first-tier American Hockey League players from their days in the Kings system with Manchester. The arriving players for  today's practice in Bridgeport were the following:

Forwards  --  Sean  Bergenheim,  Jeremy  Colliton, Masi Marjamaki, Robert Nilsson, Steve Regier, Tambellini

Defensemen  --  Bruno  Gervais, Grebeshkov, Cole Jarrett and Allan Rourke

The  Sound  Tigers  also announced the signing of right wing Blake Comeau,  the  Islanders'  second round pick in 2004, to an amateur tryout contract. The Islanders reassigned forward Luch Aquino, one of  the  top  scorers in the Ontario Hockey League this season, to the Sound Tigers.

Baseggio confirmed the following for Islanders fans:

1.  Comeau  will  make  his  Sound  Tigers debut in Game 1 vs. the Penguins.  "He made a big impression on us starting with the first day  of  camp in Nova Scotia and had a great season in the Western Hockey League," said Baseggio. "Blake deserves to be here."

2.  The  first  line  of  Sean  Bergenheim-Jeremy  Colliton-Robert Nilsson,  Baseggio's  best  line this season, will be reunited for the AHL playoffs. "That was an easy decision," said the coach.

3.  Tambellini,  who  had 56 points (25 goals) in 56 games earlier this  season with Manchester, will likely play left wing on a line centered by Rob Collins.

4.  Expect  Bruno  Gervais  to  be  paired  with Cole Jarrett, and Grebeshkov to partner with Tomi Pettinen. 

The  Sound  Tigers  currently  have 26 players in their travelling party.  Ryan  O'Marra, the Islanders' first round pick last summer who  has played so well in his first weeks as a pro in Bridgeport, will  miss Game One with an eye injury. On defense, Rourke has not fully  recovered  from his groin injury and will also be sidelined for Thursday's game.

Those  setbacks aside, Baseggio and assistant coaches Lane Lambert and  Pat  Bingham  were  satisfied  with today's practice. 'It was lively,  fast,  crisp,"  said  the  head  coach.  "I  think having everyone  back  together,  plus  the arrival of talented kids like Jeff,  Denis  and  Comeau  really added some excitement for all of us."                                                              

Baseggio also credited Islanders head coach Brad Shaw for his work in  the  transition between the Islanders and the Sound Tigers. "I can't  tell  you  how  much I appreciate all the work Brad has put in,"  Baseggio  said. "His communication with me has been awesome. He  understands  how  important  this playoff experience is for so many of the Islanders' top prospects."


All  Sound  Tigers games are web-cast live at Fans  can also watch all AHL games live on the Internet via the B2 Networks pay per view.

Sound  Tigers  playoff  tickets cost as little as $11 for children and  $16  for adults and can be purchased at Bridgeport's Arena at Harbor  Yard  box  office,  by  calling 203-368-1000 or on-line at  Tigers  Playoff  Gift  Packs  -- which include four tickets, an autographed puck and four SportsCenter of CT activity passes -- are also on sale for as little as $69.

Information regarding all Sound Tigers ticket packages, promotions and upcoming games is available on-line at, by emailing or by calling 203-334-GOAL.

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