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GAME NOTES: Islanders vs. Rangers, 7:00 pm, Nassau Coliseum

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Four first rounders, all new vets in Islanders lineup tonight

It begins tonight.

The new Islanders in the new NHL. Miro Satan and the rest of the newcomers -- Alexei Zhitnik, Michael York, Brad Lukowich and Brent Sopel -- making their debuts tonight. Four Islanders first round draft picks in the lineup -- Rick DiPietro (2000), Sean Bergenheim (2002), Robert Nilsson (2003) and Petteri Nokelainen (2004). Two-line passes allowed.

It's going to be a lot of fun. Welcome back, Islander fans.

Here's your primer for tonight, courtesy of Islanders media relations coordinator Jim Morlock.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Preseason Game No. 1, Home Game No. 1
TV: MSG Network (Sam Rosen, play-by-play; John Davidson and Joe Micheletti, color commentary)/Radio: None

Tonight's Islanders Roster
30 Garth Snow G
39 Rick DiPietro G
2 Chris Campoli D
3 Brent Sopel D
6 Bruno Gervais D
7 Trent Hunter RW
10 Sean Bergenheim LW
11 Mattias Weinhandl RW
12 Oleg Kvasha C
16 Mike York C
21 Robert Nilsson LW
25 Brad Lukowich D
29 Petteri Nokelainen RW
37 Mark Parrish LW
44 Janne Niinimaa D
47 Justin Papineau C
55 Jason Blake LW
77 Alexei Zhitnik D
79 Alexei Yashin C
81 Miroslav Satan RW

Tonight's game is the preseason opener for both teams and is the first of two preseason games between the two clubs.  Tonight's game is the Islanders' lone home appearance of the 2005 preseason schedule at the Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders have a lifetime regular-season record of 84-88-19-1 against the New York Rangers. At home, the Islanders have a lifetime record of 54-33-8-1, while in 96 regular season visits to Madison Square Garden, they have a record of 33-52-11-0.  In 2003-04, the Islanders lost all six regular season meetings to the Rangers.  The last time the Islanders defeated the Rangers in the regular season was on March 25, 2003 in a 4-2 win at the Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders will play seven preseason games in preparation for the 2005-06 NHL season.  Following tonight's game, the Islanders will play the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey (7:30 p.m. start) and then will play three games in three nights beginning on Friday when they visit the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden (7 p.m. start).  On Saturday, the Islanders will play the Bruins in Manchester, New Hampshire at the Verizon Wireless Arena (7 p.m. start) and then will conclude the weekend slate on Sunday when they visit the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at 8 p.m. at the Continental Airlines Arena.  Next week, the Islanders will visit the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday, Sept. 27 (7 p.m. start) and then will conclude the preseason schedule against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Sept. 29 (7 p.m. start).

The last time the Islanders played was against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series on April 16, 2004. The Lightning won the series in five games.  The last time the Islanders played at the Nassau Coliseum was in Game 4 of the ECQ series against the Lightning on April 14, 2004.

The Islanders yesterday reassigned three players to their respective junior clubs:  Forward Jason Pitton (Sault Ste. Marie - OHL) and defensemen Jaroslav Mrazek (Toronto - OHL) and Nicholas Tuzzolino (Sarnia - OHL). With the roster moves, the Islanders' training camp now stands at 50 players (28 forwards, 16 defensemen and six goaltenders).

The Islanders returned home yesterday from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia where they spent the first week of training camp.  A total of 53 players reported to Yarmouth last Tuesday (September 13) for the start of camp. Along with practice sessions, the team played two intrasquad scrimmages at the Mariners Centre before standing-room only crowds during the week.

Of the 50 players left in camp, five players were selected by the Islanders in the first round, including goaltender Rick DiPietro who was taken first overall in the 2000 Entry Draft.  The four other players that were selected by the Islanders in the first round were forwards Sean Bergenheim (22nd overall in 2002), Robert Nilsson (15th overall in 2003), Petteri Nolelainen (16th overall in 2004) and Ryan O'Marra (15th overall in 2005).  Of the five players, all but one (O'Marra) will be in the lineup tonight against the Rangers.

Along with DiPietro Islanders have one other player - Alexei Yashin - who was taken first overall in the Entry Draft.  Yashin, who was taken first overall by Ottawa in the 1992 Entry Draft, was acquired by the Islanders in exchange for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the Islanders' 2001 first-round pick (Jason Spezza) on June 23, 2001.  In the two scrimmages in Yarmouth, Yashin scored on both attempts in the shootout, the only player to accomplish the feat.

The Islanders have several new faces in training camp, most notably forwards Robert Nilsson, Miroslav Satan and Mike York and defensemen Brad Lukowich, Brent Sopel and Alexei Zhitnik.  Nilsson, the son of former NHL player Kent Nilsson, is regarded as one of the top European forward prospects in his draft class.  In 2002-03, he broke Swedish league records set by Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund by recording 21 points (8+13) in 41 games as a 17-year old.  Last season, Nilsson represented Sweden for the second consecutive year at the 2005 World Junior Championships.

The Islanders signed one of the NHL's most prolific goal scorers in free agent in Satan.  In the past six seasons, he has scored 194 goals, tied for ninth among all NHL players.  Satan is a two-time All-Star (2000, 2002) and has played on the International stage, representing Slovakia at the Olympics, World Championships and World Cup of Hockey during his nine-year career.

A former NY Ranger, York was acquired from Edmonton in exchange for Islander captain Michael Peca on August 3. He played three seasons with the Rangers (1999-2002) before being traded to the Oilers at the trading deadline in 2002.  In 2003-04, York ranked tied for second on the Oilers with a plus-18 rating and posted 42 points (16+26), despite missing 61 games due to injury.

A two-time All-Star (1999, 2002), Zhitnik signed with the Islanders as a free agent on August 2 after playing nine-plus seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.  In 882 career games with Los Angeles and the Sabres, he has recorded 396 points (81+315) and 1,030 penalty minutes.  In 2003-04, he led Buffalo in ice time, averaging 25:01 minutes per game.

Originally selected by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 1994 Entry Draft, Lukowich will make his debut for the isles in 2005-06.  A member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, he recorded 19 points (5+14) in 79 regular-season games and registered a plus-29 rating (T-7TH). During his eight-year career with Dallas and Tampa Bay, Lukowich has recorded 63 points and a plus-47 rating in 373 career games.  He also won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.

Sopel had a career year with Vancouver in 2003-04, setting career-highs for goals (10), assists (32) and points (42) in a season.  He has increased his offensive output in each of the last three seasons with the Canucks, recording 27 points in 2001-02, 37 in 2002-03 and 42 in 2003-04.  He was acquired by the Islanders for a conditional draft pick in the 2006 Entry Draft.

Of the 50 players left in camp, 21 were drafted by the Islanders, (five first-round picks, two second-round picks, one third-round pick, three fifth-round picks, two sixth-round picks, four seventh-round picks, two eighth round-picks and one ninth-round pick), and while 16 were signed as free agents and 11 were acquired via trade.

Steve Stirling returns for his second season as head coach of the New York islanders.  In his first season behind the bench two years ago (2003-04 season), Stirling led the Islanders to their third consecutive playoff berth with a record of 38-29-11-4 (91 points).  Stirling was The Hockey News' Minor Pro Coach of the Year in 2001-02 after taking the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to the 2002 Calder Cup Final.  In his two seasons with the Sound Tigers, Stirling had a record of 83-51-19-7.    This season will be his eighth in the organization.  Prior to being promoted to head coach of the Islanders, Stirling spent two seasons as head coach in Bridgeport, three seasons as an assistant in Lowell (AHL) and one as a pro scout. When Lorne Henning served as interim head coach in the 2000-01 season, Stirling was his assistant. He joined the Islanders after a successful career as a college coach. Under then-athletic director Lou Lamoriello, Stirling coached Providence to the 1985 NCAA Final. Surrounding his two seasons at Providence were two stints as head coach at Babson College where he was twice named Division II/III Coach of the year. His 15-year collegiate head coaching record is 290-129-28. As a player, Stirling was captain of the 1971 NBAA champion Boston University Terriers and played pro with the AHL's Boston Braves and Rochester Americans.

In his first season as head coach (2003-04), Steve Stirling led the Islanders to a 7-0 record in the preseason.  The Islanders defeated the Devils, Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins twice, and the Bruins once to finish the 2003 preseason with a perfect record.

Wednesday, September 21 at Coliseum: 10-11 a.m. (Group A). 11:15 -1:15 p.m. (Group B). 1:30-3:30 p.m. (Group C) Thursday, Sept. 22 at Coliseum: 9 -11 a.m. (Group A). 11:15 -1:15 p.m.
(Group B). 1:30  - 3:30 p.m. (Group C)

Friday, Sept. 23 at Coliseum: 9 - 10:15 a.m. (Group A). 10:30 - 12:30 p.m. (Group B). 12:45-2:45 p.m. (Group C)

Saturday, Sept. 24 at Iceworks, Syosset: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Morning Skate at Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, N.H. - TBA. Game vs. Boston (7 p.m.)

Sunday, Sept. 25 at Iceworks, Syosset: 9:45 - 11:45 a.m. Game at New Jersey, Continental Airlines Arena (8 p.m.)

Monday, Sept. 26 at Iceworks, Syosset: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Iceworks, Syosset: 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon. Game at Philadelphia, Wachovia Center (7 p.m.)

Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Iceworks, Syosset: 12 noon - 2 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29 at Iceworks, Syosset: 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Game at NY Rangers, Madison Square Garden (7 p.m.)

Friday, Sept. 30 at Iceworks, Syosset: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.


August 1 - Islanders re-sign goaltender Garth Snow to a three-year contract.

August 2 - Islanders sign defenseman Alexei Zhitnik to a four-year contract.

August 3 - Islanders acquired forward Michael York and a conditional draft pick from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forward Michael Peca.

August 3 - Islanders sign forward Miroslav Satan to a three-year contract.

August 3 - Islanders acquire defenseman Brent Sopel from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2006 draft pick.

August 8 - Islanders name Brad Shaw assistant coach.

August 10 - Islanders sign forward Wyatt Smith to a one-year contract.

August 11 - Islanders sign defenseman Brad Lukowich to a two-year contract.

August 12 - Islanders re-sign forward Mattias Weinhandl to a two-year contract.

August 12 - Islanders sign defenseman Allan Rourke to a one-year contract.

August 15 - Islanders re-sign defenseman Radek Martinek to a one-year contract.

August - Islanders re-sign forwards Oleg Kvasha and Aaron Asham to one-year contracts.

August 16 - Islanders sign defenseman Brent Sopel to a two-year contract.

August 17 - Islanders sign forward Masi Marjamaki to a three-year contract.

August 18 - Islanders sign defenseman Joel Bouchard to a one-year contract.

August 18 - Islanders name Dan Bylsma assistant coach.

August 22 - Islanders re-sign forward Shawn Bates.

August 23 - Islanders sign forward Petteri Nokelainen to a three-year contract.

August 24 - Islanders re-sign forward Justin Papineau.

August 25 - Islanders announce affiliation agreement with the Mississippi Sea Wolves (ECHL).

August 25 - Jack Capuano named assistant coach.

August 30 - Islanders sign forward Robert Nilsson to a three-year contract.

August 31 - Islanders re-sign defenseman Tomi Pettinen to a one-year contract.

September 1 - Islanders re-sign forwards Rob Collins and Kevin Colley to one-year contracts.

September 7 - Islanders re-sign goaltender Rick DiPietro to a one-year contract.

September 14 - Islanders re-sign forward Mark Parrish.

2005 SEASON:
The Islanders will open their 33rd season in the NHL on Wednesday, October 5 when they visit the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. start).  This will be the second time in the last three years that the Islanders have opened the season in Buffalo and it will also mark the fifth consecutive season that they have started the season on the road.  The Islanders will play six of their first 10 games of the season on the road.  The Islanders will return home to open their home portion of the schedule on Saturday, October 8 vs. Carolina (7 p.m. star

Tickets are still available for tonight's game. Call TicketMaster or visit the Coliseum box office. For season tickets and partials plans, please call 1.800.882.ISLES.



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