BRIDGEPORT C.T. – Kieffer Bellows has had the spotlight shining bright on him well before his draft year thanks to the way he dominated the high school and United States Hockey League scene, consistently being a point-per-game player.
His father Brian, who was a three-time NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champion, received similar praise going into his draft year, being selected with the second pick in the 1982 NHL Draft by the Minnesota North Stars. He finished his illustrious NHL career with more than 1,000 points in slightly less than 1,200 games.
The former, a product of Edina, Minnesota, is playing in his second professional season in the Islanders’ organization after being selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. For Bellows, that’s where his journey truly began.
“I think he resembles his father a lot,” said veteran forward Andrew Ladd, who was Bellows’ linemate over the weekend. “He has a great knack for finding the back of the net. A lot of his goals are in tight and he does a good job of getting stick on puck.”
Bellows committed to Boston University before his draft year and was expected to play an integral part of a roster loaded with future NHL talent. Shortly after completing his freshman season in 2016-17 for then head coach David Quinn, Bellows decided to go a different route to play more frequently in the Western Hockey League for the Portland Winterhawks.
His success there was paramount, bringing confidence back to his offensive game. Bellows tallied 41 goals and contributed 33 assists for 74 points in 56 games.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played in consecutive seasons for the same team,” shared Bellows. “It’s nice to have the same coaching staff and creating long friendships is so important.”
Through 105 career games with the Sound Tigers, Bellows has 25 goals and 10 assists, but has started to heat up of late. Including Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss, where Bellows netted three goals all in the third period, he has 12 goals in his last 13 games which has allowed Bridgeport to get out of the AHL standings cellar. For a power forward with first-round talent, Bellows is willing to be patient with the process.
“I’ve been consistent the whole year with my work ethic and my game,” said Bellows. “The bounces are going in and I’m creating chances for myself. It really is a team effort, though.”
Last year as a rookie, Bellows scored 12 goals in 73 games with the Sound Tigers and was often playing with different linemates to find the correct chemistry. This year, things have been different.
Bellows credited a lot of his success to teammates Matt Lorito and Colin McDonald, but Bellows has earned each of his opportunities and many of his teammates are noticing.
“Whenever you have a guy putting the puck in the net as much as he is, you’re just confident he’ll get opportunities, especially when he gets to the net,” said Ladd. “He does a good job winning those 50-50 battles and it’s been really fun to watch.”
The Sound Tigers finish the 2019 portion of their schedule on New Year’s Eve at Hartford.
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers