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by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
More than a month after sustaining a cross-check to the back during the second period of a preseason game versus the New Jersey Devils on October 1, centerman Rob Schremp is thrilled to be back in the Islanders lineup and is set to play in his first NHL game this season.

“I feel good,” Schremp said. “I’ve been pretty antsy, looking forward to getting back out there. Obviously, in camp (I was) flying and was excited for the year, and then had the setback. So you know I’ve just been itching to get on the ice.”

The center considered himself very lucky to have a brief conditioning stint with Bridgeport because he wanted to be able to get his legs back under him and clean off some of the rust that comes with being sidelined for a month. In his only game with the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate, he tallied an assist in overtime to help the Sound Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the Manchester Monarchs.

“I was happy to have the opportunity to go down there and play,” Schremp said. “I was able to get a game under my belt. It was a great idea. Scott told me to ‘just get some mistakes out of the way, and get some rust off.’ It would have been a tough game to come back against Montreal. They play a fast-paced game. So, sitting out for four weeks, I don’t think that would have been great so quick. But to go down there, to play a game, I got a practice in with them last night and I feel like I’m ready.”

Although Islanders head coach Scott Gordon hasn’t had a chance to watch the video from Schremp’s game in the AHL, he said that he has been impressed with what he has seen the center accomplish in the few practices that he has been able to participate.

“He looks like he’s 100 percent now,” Gordon said. “It was good to see we were able to get him in a game, get some rust off. Hopefully he’ll be able to pick up his play quickly because when you miss quite a bit of training camp – and he’s a guy, if he’s on the top of his game, the better it is for our team.”

Before joining Bridgeport in Manchester, the Fulton, NY native had been skating on his own for the past week-and-a-half. He also had the opportunity to skate with his teammates on Tuesday and Thursday of last week, participating in full-contact practices. Those practices were a good sign for most of the media who assumed he was feeling much better, as he didn’t shy away from checks from his teammates.

Schremp reiterated his back feels great.

“I don’t feel pain at all,” Schremp said. “You know, I’ve been pushing it pretty hard. I pushed hard with (Islanders Skill Development coach) Bernie (Cassell) last week, and he did a great job to help me get back on track, and running me through drills one-on-one. A lot of thanks goes to him for staying with me last week and working hard and getting me on track. My back feels great and we’ll see how it goes Wednesday.”

Schremp has watched every game of the Islanders 2010-11 regular season from his couch or the press box at the Nassau Coliseum.

“It’s tough (sitting out),” Schremp said. “You want to contribute, you want to help, and it’s almost like they always say, ‘Everybody’s a $10 million player from the press box,’ because you think you can do something better. You always know the game best from up there. But it’s always tough to watch, and you just want to play and help and contribute, but you can’t. There’s nothing you can really do.”

“Watching pregame shows when they’re on the road, you want to be on the road with your buddies and be part of the team,” Schremp continued. “So it stinks being home and not being able to be a part of that, so it’s good to get back on track.”

The healthy forward seems to be back to his old self, cracking jokes and enjoying his time out on the ice with his teammates. He’s been just as fast as ever and forward Frans Nielsen is happy to have his teammate back in the lineup. He hopes that Schremp will be able to put a few goals in the back of the net to help spin the Islanders recent run of bad luck.

“He’s definitely healthy,” Nielsen said about his teammate. “He’s like Rob always is, flying around. It’s definitely good to get him back. He’s good to have in the room and on the ice. Hopefully he can come back and score some goals for us. We definitely need that.”
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