Sound Tigers Head Coach Jack Capuano has his team firing on all cylinders nearly halfway through the season. The team's 109 goals for are second in the league.
"I like the fact that they're coming to the rink every day and having fun," said Capuano. "We're a young team and eager to learn. The guys are very attentive and pay attention to detail. If there's one thing I wouldn't mind seeing a little bit more is gritty play and being more physical at times. Also, I'd like to see us shoot the puck more."
Leading the way for the Sound Tigers offensively has been the trio of linemates Left Wing Trevor Smith, Center Kurtis McLean and Right Wing Mike Iggulden. Smith leads the team and ranks tied for fifth in the AHL with 16 goals in 31 games. Iggulden is the team leader in points and is third in the league with his 35 points. McLean's 32 points are tied for sixth in the AHL.
However, the top line isn't the only three producing. The Sound Tigers have balanced their scoring well, earning contributions from all four lines. Jesse Joensuu
has 11 goals on the season and Jeremy Colliton
has recorded 17 points.
"To have success, you need secondary scoring," said Capuano. "Our top scorers carried us for a while and now others are getting on the scoreboard. They're doing nothing fancy, just paying the price and being in front of the goaltenders."
While the offense is clicking, it's the goaltending that has been the backbone of the team's success. The Sound Tigers have the second lowest goals-against average in the Eastern Conference, trailing only Hershey, with whom thet are tied for first.
Sharing the nets since Yann Danis' call-up to the Islanders are Peter Mannino and Nathan Lawson. Mannino has received a majority of the playing time, going 9-6-2. Lawson, meanwhile, is riding a six-game winning streak, having gone a perfect 7-0-0 in his starts with a 1.52 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.
"Both goalies have been great and get along well," said Capuano. "They support each other. They're competitors, who even hate pucks going by them in practice. They work hard on and off the ice and are getting rewarded for it."
The Sound Tigers kept up their winning ways in the final weekend before Christmas, going 2-1-0 in a three-game series at The Arena at Harbor Yard. Last Friday, the Sound Tigers' top line of Smith, McLean and Iggulden combined for eight points in a 4-1 win over Springfield. Mannino played in his fifth straight game, earning the win on 23 saves,
The following night, Bridgeport loss by the same score to Binghamton. Skating in a conditioning stint with Bridgeport, Jeff Tambellini scored the Sound Tigers' lone goal.
The Sound Tigers completed their first three-game weekend home-stand with a 4-0 shutout over Lowell. Lawson earned his first AHL shutout with 18 saves. Offensively, Smith scored twice, while Colliton and Tomas Marcinko
each chipped in with one.
The Sound Tigers returned to action on Friday and defeated Haryford 4-1. Tonight, they travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to meet the Penguins.
The first 1,500 fans attending the Sound Tigers' game tonight against Hartford will receive a free 2008-09 New York Islanders Yearbook. Click here
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to watch highlights from the Sound Tigers' win over Lowell on Sunday.