Friday, January 11, 2008

2 Points

Unless you've been in a cave all week, you know that Kyle Okposo's professional debut took place on Friday night in Binghamton. While Okposo Net loves to travel (are you listening, Islanders?), we did not witness it live. We did, however, follow as closely as humanly possible and are happy to report that Kyle played well.

As predicted, K.O. was on the right side of a line teamed with Jeff Tambellini and Frans Nielsen. Early in the first period the trio had a solid scoring chance, with Okposo dropping the puck to Tambellini for a shot. Binghamton goalie Jeff Glass was up to the task, though, and saved this along with 9 other Bridgeport attempts as the teams headed to the dressing rooms scoreless after the first stanza.

Early in the second period, Bridgeport got one past Glass. On a power play that carried over from the 1st, Ben Walter needed just 11 seconds to give the visitors the lead. He scored his 10th goal of the season with assists from defenseman Dustin Kohn and Kyle Okposo! Okposo dropped the puck for Kohn and he fired the shot, but Walter redirected for the tally. In any event, Kyle took just 20:11 to record his first pro point.

Fast forward to the third period with the Sound Tigers now trailing 2-1. Former Islander Justin Mapletoft was sent off for tripping at 10:48, and again Okposo found Walter for a second power play goal.

Unfortunately, the Senators took the lead for good about 5 minutes later, and your final was Binghamton 3, Bridgeport 2. Kyle Okposo had 2 points on 4 shots, and recorded a -1 in his first professional game.

Remember, Okposo Net will be in Bridgeport on Saturday and Sunday to follow Kyle's journey through the American Hockey League.

Speaking of 2 points, that's exactly what the Islanders earned on Friday night in Calgary. The road trip had gotten off to a slow start, with losses to Colorado, Edmonton, and Vancouver (although they did manage, um, 2 points due to forcing overtime in both Colorado and Vancouver). Nevertheless, the Isles jumped out to a 3-1 lead after 1, gave the same amount back after 2, and played to a stalemate in regulation. They had chances to win in the overtime period (including a spell of 4-on-3 hockey), but wanted to make Rick DiPietro really work for his money. The teams went to a shootout.

Mike Sillinger (who had 2 regulation goals) fired a shot past Miikka Kiprusoff after Kristian Huselius had scored first for the Flames, but DP stymied Jarome Iginla and Owen Nolan on their attempts. Meanwhile, Richard Park scored on his chance, and the Isles came away with the 'W.'

Trent Hunter and Ruslan Fedotenko showed signs of life, each recording multi-point games, but the power play still looks lifeless and sloppy. Coach Ted Nolan really has to work on getting this team to get a) men in front of the net and b) more shots at the opposing goalie. When the puck is thrown in front good things happen, especially when screeners are present near the crease.

The road trip concludes this weekend on what will be a very busy sports Sunday. As mentioned, we'll be in Bridgeport watching Kyle, then we'll race back to Okposo Net World Headquarters to catch the Isles at Ottawa. We may even have an NFL playoff game somewhere on the cluster of big screen TVs. We're very resourceful.

So, if the Isles can get just one point in Ottawa, they'll return with a decent, if not superb, 5 points of 10 from a tough Western swing. It will help them stay in a challenging and dynamic Eastern Conference race. But let's not look too far ahead.

All in all, a nice night for both Kyle and his future team.

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