Young Isles shine in preseason opener
Prince Leads Prospect-Filled Lineup in 3-0 Victory over Flyers
Shane Prince, who scored three goals during the New York Islanders’ push to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, kicked off the 2016-17 preseason in style.
Prince snapped a scoreless deadlock at 4:28 of the third period Monday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center, spurring the new-look Islanders to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the preseason opener for both teams.
“A young team dressed, a lot of guys in their first game of exhibition, I thought they played really well,” said Prince, who is hardly a seasoned veteran himself, with only 64 regular-season NHL games under his belt.
“A 3-0 game, not too many chances against, really good job by the young guys and a few of the veterans that were in the lineup played well as well,” added Prince, who combined with Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson to form New York’s surprisingly productive third line during the 2016 playoffs.
Alan Quine and Ryan Pulock got assists on the Isles’ first tally at Barclays since May 6, when they dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the East semis here en route to being ousted by the Lightning in five tough contests.
Josh Ho-Sang, one of the Isles’ first-round picks in the 2014 draft, also lit the lamp, and Michael Dal Colle, selected fifth overall that same year, added one for good measure as New York prepared for Tuesday night’s dueling split-squad exhibitions against these same Flyers in Philadelphia and the East River rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (MSG).
“It felt really good,” Ho-Sang said of potting the game’s second goal off a nice feed from fellow neophyte Matthew Barzal.
“I don’t know how he got that to me, it was unbelievable. I was just fortunate enough to finish.”
Second-year goaltender Jean-Francois Berube, who went 3-2 with a 2.71 goals-against average in seven appearances, including six starts, last season, stopped all 14 shots he faced against Philadelphia before giving way to Christopher Gibson, who also finished with 14 saves.
With long-standing regulars like Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen gone via unrestricted free agency, the Isles are hoping their corps of highly touted prospects from the past several drafts can step in and produce.
“We’re just trying to work on habits and the little things right now,” Isles head coach Jack Capuano said.
“Structurally I thought we were pretty good, but trying to get those habits out of the young players is something we want to work on as camp goes on.”
The Isles will open the regular season at MSG on Oct. 13 before traveling to Washington for an Oct. 15 showdown with the Capitals.
The home opener is slated for Oct. 16 against Anaheim.
Isle Have Another: New additions Jason Chimera, Andrew Ladd and P.A. Paranteau were all expected to make their preseason Islanders debuts during Tuesday’s split-squad affairs in Philly and across the Brooklyn Bridge. Ladd is the most notable of the players expected to make an immediate impact this season after signing a seven-year, $38.5 million pact with the team this summer. The 30-year-old left winger is likely to see plenty of ice time alongside team captain John Tavares … Strome, who inked a two-year deal to return to Brooklyn, may find himself centering a line during the preseason and perhaps into the 82-game grind. He skated between forwards Anders Lee and Josh Bailey during last week’s training camp. “If that’s the way it shakes out, then that’d be great,” Strome said. “Obviously it’d be a bit of an adjustment just trying to get back to it. Nothing I’m not used to, I’ve been a center man a lot of my life.”
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In other local sports news, this past weekend’s World Baseball Classic qualifiers at Coney Island’s MCU Park ended with Team Israel punching its first-ever ticket to the Group Stages of the international tournament.
Having to beat Team Great Britain twice to advance, the Israeli unit rallied for a 5-2 win Thursday night, then cruised past the Brits, 9-1, on Sunday, in the title game.
“I try to approach every opportunity I get with as much passion as I can,” said former big league veteran Jason Marquis, who tossed four perfect innings while striking out five in the finale.
“It was definitely our goal to win this little qualifier and get to the main event if that’s what you want to call it.”
Blake Gailen, Cody Decker and Ryan Lavarnway homered Sunday night for Israel, which earned a spot in Pool B beginning next March 7 in Seoul against host South Korea, Chinese Taipei and The Netherlands.
Israel’s entry completed the field of 16 nations vying for next year’s fourth WBC crown.
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