NYI Netminders Report - March 23

BY, Joe Bello

· Joe Bello

Welcome to the first Isles Goalie Report. An article dedicated to the goalies in the New York Islanders organization. The Islanders have two very solid NHL goaltenders in Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin. But are you aware of what is going on with Isles goalies in the AHL, or in Europe?

Let’s get started with the goalies on the main NHL roster. First we have our starting goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, who is now in his second season with the Isles. Varly has been fantastic so far this year, posting numbers that have been near the top of the league. He holds a 13-6-3 record, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average through 22 games played. The 32 year old netminder is in the 13th season of his career and as you can see, his numbers have not slowed down one bit. He is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now. Now we move to another Russian goalie, rookie sensation Ilya Sorokin. After a shaky start to the season, Ilya has been lights out. He is 8-2-1 with a .922 save percentage and a 1.97 goals against average through 11 games. He has won his past 8 starts, having a .944 save percentage and a 1.35 goals against average in those games. These numbers are very impressive. Especially since he has had to adjust to the different style of play here in the NHL compared to the KHL in Russia. Isles fans are finally getting to see that elite goalie from the KHL that they have heard about. Cory Schneider is also on the Islanders team but he has not seen any action yet. The veteran goalie has only backed up Varly or Sorokin on a couple instances.

Now moving into the AHL, or American Hockey League. The Islanders’ AHL affiliate is the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, as many of you may know. There is only one goalie in Bridgeport that is actually under an Islanders contract, that is Jakub Skarek. The 21 year old, 6’4” goalie was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His numbers are not very impressive this season for the Sound Tigers. Skarek has a 1-5-0 record, a .901 save percentage and a 3.05 goals against average through 6 games. This is his 2nd year playing pro hockey in North America. Last year he played 16 games with Bridgeport and 14 games with the Isles’ ECHL affiliate, the Worcester Railers. I do not believe Skarek will ever find himself a starting role in the NHL. But maybe as a backup within the next 4-5 years. The Sound Tigers have three other netminders on their team. One of them is former Devils goalie Ken Appleby. Appleby has played one game for Bridgeport where he stopped 20 of 23 shots, and got the win. Which is 1 of 3 total wins that Bridgeport has this season, having a record of 3-7-0. Next is C.J. Motte, who has bounced around to many teams over the last couple seasons. He has played 3 games for the Tigers, with a 1-2-0 record, 0.881 save percentage, and a 3.65 goals against average. Lastly we have Francis Marotte, who put up a .938 save percentage and 1.78 goals against average in 34 games with Clarkson University last season. He has played 2 games for Bridgeport, with a .800 save percentage and a 3.76 goals against average. The Sound Tigers are going through a rough season right now so it is tough to judge these three off of this year's stats.

Henrik Tikkanen was drafted in the 7th round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Islanders. He is standing in at an impressive 6’8” and 201 lbs. Making him the tallest goalie in the Isles organization. Tikkanen is a 20 year old goaltender from Finland, who is unsigned by the Isles as of right now. He is currently playing in the Liiga, which is the highest level of professional hockey in Finland. With his club, the Kalevan Pallo, he has a 2-2-3 record, a .921 save percentage and a 1.94 goals against average through 7 games. These are very good numbers considering the fact that this is his first season playing professionally. He also played some games with the Iisalmen Peli-Karhut. They play in the Mestis, which is the second highest professional league in Finland. He had a 6-4-0 record with IPK, featuring a .870 save percentage and a 3.26 goals against average. Tikkanen may be in North America playing within the Isles organization in the next 2-3 years.

The Isles Goalie Report will continue to provide updates regarding all goalies in the Islanders system until the season is concluded. This is the place to learn all about how the goalies are playing in the Islanders organization.

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