Greiss will keep grinding for Team Europe
Islanders’ Goalie Honing His Craft in Upcoming World Cup of Hockey
While most of the Islanders can only sit and watch as the Stanley Cup Finals continue Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, New York goaltender Thomas Greiss is still snatching pucks out of the air, stacking his pads and pushing people out of the crease.
Greiss, who took over for injured starter Jaroslav Halak late in the 2015-16 season and backstopped the Islanders to their first postseason series win since 1993, has officially been selected to play for Team Europe in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.
But the 30-year-old German netminder has also been busy since the Islanders lost their Eastern Conference semifinal series to Tampa Bay last month, going 3-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average for Team Germany during the recently completed World Championships in Russia.
That’s a lot of hockey for a player who spent the better part of the first half of this past season sitting behind Halak, and even sharing duties with up-and-coming third-string goalie Jean-Francois Berube.
It can be argued that Greiss, more than any other player on the roster, saved the Isles’ historic first full season here in Brooklyn.
Subbing for Halak during the critical stretch run toward a postseason spot, Greiss finished the year with a career-best 23-11-4 record in a career-high 41 games, boasting a solid 2.36 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
He yielded two goals or fewer in all but two of the Isles’ six playoff games against Florida in the opening round, surrendering one goal in each of the last two contests, which New York won in overtime.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow, a former NHL goaltender himself, noted the importance of Greiss’ contributions during his postseason press conference.
“Thomas came in and displayed a great work ethic whether he was playing or backing up on a certain night,” Snow said. “I think Thomas earned the respect from our players and coaches because of his personality, his demeanor and his work ethic.”
Greiss, who is no stranger to international competition, has also represented Germany in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 World Championships and the 2004, 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships.
A third-round pick by San Jose in the 2004 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound goalie showed tremendous poise in net throughout the Isles’ frantic stretch run and during the playoffs.
He was victimized by the team’s poor offensive showing during the second-round series with the Lightning, and finished the postseason with a 5-6 record and 2.46 goals-against average.
“When he got the opportunity to play, he seized it and he played great for us,” added Snow, who may decide to move on from Halak and use Greiss as the team’s primary goalie next season.
“He proved to be a number one goalie in this league this season, but the challenge for not only Thomas, but all of our players is to improve and build off that and get better.”
The World Cup of Hockey will feature eight teams in total — Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America.
Greiss wasn’t the only Islander player competing in the World Hockey Championships.
Forward Brock Nelson helped Team USA advance to the Bronze Medal Game by scoring a goal and adding three assists in six games before the Americans dropped a 7-2 decision to Team Russia to miss a spot on the medal podium.
Nelson, a 24-year-old native of Minnesota, played in all but one of the Islanders’ 92 games, including the playoffs, during the 2015-16 campaign, registering a career-high 26 goals to go with 14 assists.
* * *
The Islanders have officially unveiled their 2016 preseason schedule, with three of the eight contests to be played on home ice at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
New York will host Philadelphia here in the preseason opener on Sept. 26 before welcoming the New Jersey Devils and arch rival Rangers on Oct. 3-4, respectively.
The Isles will also host a game at Webster Bank Arena, home of the franchise’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, on Oct. 1 against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
The Islanders’ four road exhibitions include stops at Madison Square Garden, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Prudential Center in Newark and Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Tickets to Islanders preseason games at Barclays Center will go on sale on Friday, June 10.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment