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Rakhshani named to AHL All-Rookie Team

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers leading scorer, Rhett Rakhshani, was named to the American Hockey League All-Rookie Team early on Wednesday morning. Learning about this honor the way he did was not only the perfect way to start the day, but couldn't have been delivered better - as he was surrounded by the very people he credits for having such a breakout year.

His coach, Pat Bingham, stopped the team’s morning skate at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine to announce it to the team.

“I was definitely excited,” Rakhshani said. “I definitely wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the help from some good teammates and linemates. It’s been really exciting.”

But since it was a game day, where the Sound Tigers defeated the Portland Pirates 2-1, the team’s leading scorer hasn’t had much time to process the designation.

Rhett Rakhshani #49 of the New York Islanders in action during a preseason game against the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 2, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders won 2-1. (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)
“I haven’t really had much of a chance to sit back and soak it up,” Rakhshani said. “I guess a lot of hard work goes in to getting to this level and until I’m able to sit back and reflect, I won’t truly know where I’m at and all the hard work that has gotten me here.”

After being selected 100 overall in the 2006 Entry Draft, the New York Islanders prospect made his professional season debut earlier this season.

As much strain as the man-games-lost statistic has placed on the New York Islanders this season, the burden has been placed on the Sound Tigers to fill the void. Thus, when players have been recalled to Long Island, the Sound Tigers have been forced to sign players to Professional Tryout Contracts in order to fill their roster.

Remarkably, the team has fought through the tough times and Rakhshani has delivered the best statistics of all American Hockey League rookies. In 61 games, the winger has produced 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points.

I know we’ve had a tough season here, but with all the ups and downs, guys have still battled through and the team has been doing better lately. I think that speaks to our leadership and to our coaches. - Rhett Rakhshani
“As a coach and as teammates, to have new players, new linemates and to have new special team units every night - it feels like - it’s been something we’ve had to adapt to,” Rakhshani said. “I know we’ve had a tough season here, but with all the ups and downs, guys have still battled through and the team has been doing better lately. I think that speaks to our leadership and to our coaches.”

Rakhshani also made his National Hockey League debut this season, playing for the first time on Dec. 13 at Nashville, where he recorded 11:44 of playing time. He was recalled for a second time on Jan. 11, where he got in a few shifts against Vancouver before taking a hit, causing the winger to miss six games with a concussion.

But Rakhshani has not let those highs and lows hinder his performance. In fact, he knows that this has been one of the most difficult times he’ll have to go through as a player and he’s going to be stronger for it.

“It’s been, the best way to say it is, it’s been a season of learning,” Rakhshani said. “There have been lots of ups, lots of downs and lots of things that I’ve learned this season on and off the ice. It’s learning how to be a pro I guess.”

He continued, “So I’d say it’s been a great first season as far as the guys I’ve been able to play with and the experiences I’ve been able to have. At times I’ve struggled, but at times I’ve done really well, but overall it’s been a great experience.”

The rest of the honorees for the 2010-11 AHL All-Rookie Team are as follows: Goaltender Eddie Lack of the Manitoba Moose, defensemen Erik Gustafsson of the Adirondack Phantoms and Brendan Smith of the Grand Rapids Griffins, forwards Luke Adam of the Portland Pirates and Zac Dalpe of the Charlotte Checkers.
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