BRIDGEPORT, C.T. — Oliver Wahlstrom was back in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers lineup after playing for Team USA at the World Junior Championships.
Wahlstrom played in five games for the United States and recorded a goal and four assists in that span. The US was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals by Finland.
“It was really fun,” Wahlstrom told Islanders Insight about the experience. “I enjoyed it. Tough ending but I’m glad I went.”
It was the 19-year-old’s second time playing for the United States at the World Juniors. He was a member of the American team at last year’s tournament, where he scored two goals and had two assists in seven games.
Wahlstrom was one of two Islanders’ prospects to appear in this year’s tournament. The coaching staff in Bridgeport, as well as Islanders management, felt that there were plenty of benefits from him to play in the World Juniors.
“Just the opportunity to play minutes, get himself a little bit of confidence,” Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson said. “He got to play with USA and gain some confidence there, and then come back with us. He’s been solid. His thing is the 200-foot game and making sure he’s moving his feet and making the right play with the puck at the right time.
“His first few games he’s been good. It’s going to be a work in progress with these guys. It’s not going to be a snap of a finger and they’re in the NHL.”
Wahlstrom has three goals and seven assists in 23 games with Bridgeport this season. He also appeared in nine NHL games with the Islanders.
Coincidentally, Wahlstrom returned from his time playing for Team USA on a weekend the Sound Tigers were honoring military veterans. Bridgeport wore special camouflage uniforms in both home games on Saturday and Sunday.
“It was special. I obviously got to represent my country overseas, which is special. What they do for us is unbelievable,” Wahlstrom said.
bellows remains focused on improving
Kieffer Bellows may be the scoring touch the Islanders need, but the 21-year-old isn’t worried about that. His main focus remains on improving each day he is on the ice.
Bellows had a three-point game in Bridgeport’s 6-4 win over Laval on Sunday. He had a pair of assists on goals from Otto Koivula and scored a goal of his own at 11:53 of the second period.
Bellows leads the Sound Tigers in goals (15) and points (21) in 39 games this season, which has certainly caught the attention of many observers on Long Island. However, that doesn’t mean Bellows is looking beyond the work he’s doing in Bridgeport for the time being.
“Right now I’m just focusing on developing my skills and my game down here,” he said. “While also trying to help the team win. When and if my time comes I’ll be ready for it. … I’ll go up there with confidence and that scoring touch. Just whenever the call is there I’ll be ready to go.”
– John Stevens was traded to Utica on Friday for future considerations. In 117 career games with the Sound Tigers, Stevens has 32 points.
-Sunday’s win over Laval snapped an eight-game losing streak for Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers hadn’t won a game since Dec. 27 against the Hartford Wolf Pack.
– The Sound Tigers are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
The week ahead
The Sound Tigers will play a home and home against the Providence Bruins on Friday and Saturday. They’ll face the Bruins at 7:05 p.m. at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center before returning to host Providence the following day at Webster Bank Arena at 7 p.m.