TRAINING CAMP 2004
Day 4 â" Q & A With Coach Cronin
Thursday morningâs on-ice sessions were uneventful and marked the end
of a quick day. The players had returned to the Rinks at Shelton for
afternoon weight training the first three days of camp, but everyone
was given Thursday evening off to prepare for Fridayâs preseason
opener versus the Albany River Rats.
For the diehards whoâve been faithfully keeping score, the Black Team
won the first game downstairs 2-0 on an early Sean Bergenheim goal
and a late Matt Koalska tally while the White Team won game two
upstairs 1-0 as Justin Mapletoft scored on the heels of a good
forecheck along with Eric Godard.
So, soundtigers.com decided to sit down with Greg Cronin for some Q &
A, and hereâs what the coach had to sayâ¦
ASIDE FROM THE OBVIOUS DIFFERENCES DUE TO THE NHL SITUATION, WHAT
MAKES THIS CAMP DIFFERENT?
We have better depth. Today was the first day we separated the
veterans from the ânew guysâ, so to speak, and they outplayed the
veterans and won the game. Thereâs not a real dramatic difference in
everyoneâs talent level. So, they can all execute plays and keep
pace, which means we keep working at a consistent level.
HOW DO FEEL ABOUT CAMP SO FAR?
I think itâs been great! The first few days, everyone ran on
adrenaline, so there was a natural enthusiasm and energy level. Then,
whether they know it or not, there was a lull, so we had that
predictable day yesterday (Wednesday); they worked hard, but the
energy and execution werenât as good. So, I was curious to see how it
would go today, and we had a great practiceâ¦a lot of energy and a lot
of enthusiasm! I try to judge the performance by the attention to
detailâ¦sticks on the ice, talking, crispness of passesâ¦and they were
snapping it around good today. The scrimmage also had a good pace.
You can judge camp and each session by how smoothly the practice goes
and the pace of the games. Iâve been very happy with it so far.
HOW MUCH OF THIS CAMP IS TRAINING AND WORKING ON SYSTEMS, AND HOW
MUCH IS EVALUATING TALENT?
Weâre pretty set and fairly comfortable with what we have as far as
the body of the team weâre going to play with this season. Itâs
really a two-part answer to a two-part question. First, weâre not
really evaluating who is or is not going to make the team, although a
few spots are open, as much as weâre trying to identify what role
each player is going to have with the team. Second, is the actual
identity of the group and what weâre trying to create for a team
personality, and you canât have an identity without having a system.
Fundamentally, weâre going to use some of the same things we used
last year, but because of our personnel changes, and thereâs been a
pretty good overhaul, there might be some new wrinkles to what we did
last year that are strong reflections in terms of what we have for
talent. Whether itâs a quicker pace to our forecheck or our
defensemen getting more involved and so on, those things will take
hold in week two. But, this is week one, and we just want everyone to
get accustomed to the pace of practice and the criteria by which
weâre judging them, and some of the younger kids have said how
pleased they are with the way we do things, which is great.
WHAT ABOUT THE STRONG ISLANDERS PRECENSE?
If youâre a player, what more can you ask for? You have Dave and me
plus Steve Stirling and Jeff Jackson. So, every time youâre on the
ice you have the guys who will probably coach you for most of this
season here in Bridgeport, as well as the guys who may hold your
career in the balance on Long Island. Also, Steve and Jeff can put
names to faces as far as the organizational depth goes, and the
personal connection could be the difference between whether a player
gets an NHL shot and whether or not the right guy is called-up for
the right reason. I know this is a tough time for the sport of
hockey, but itâs a chance for some organizations to back off and do a
little inventory to see what they have.
OF THE ISLANDERSâ PROSPECTS, WHO HAS STOOD OUT?
Chris Campoli has handled himself very maturely. Heâs been very
efficient and very physical on the ice. His skill level has also been
Jeff Bateman, for the single fact heâs played fearlessly throughout
camp. Without even knowing what heâs accomplished in terms of stats,
you can say heâs been very visible. His effort has been outstanding
and heâs made a point to finish every check.
WHAT CAN THE FANS EXPECT IN THE PRESEASON GAMES?
We have some players who really personify the work ethic you like to
motivate your team to play with every night. Iâve seen most of what
the fans would expect from the returning players and more. There are
some NHL-destined guys who have the skill but need make it on their
work habits, and Iâve seen that. Then, sprinkle in the guys who are
here for the experience and have something to prove, and it should
make for a fairly entertaining style of hockey. Iâm sure weâll also
see the same from the other teams. It should be exciting!
FOUR PRESEASON GAMES IN SHELTON THEN THREE REGULAR-SEASON GAMES IN
BRIDGEPORT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SO MUCH âHOME COOKINGâ?
Itâs good. It gives the players time to straighten out their personal
lives, families and housing, etc. You hear a lot of talk about it
being good to have an early-season road trip, and it is true, but
weâve always had good teams and good camaraderie hereâ¦weâve thrived
on it. I can already tell we have a good unity with this group, so
the guys will spend plenty of time together, but theyâll also get to
know the area and get comfortable with their surroundings, and thatâs
important. You need structure and routine in your life, and you donât
get that when youâre on and off buses and in and out of hotels right
off the bat.
Anyone whoâs followed the transactions can tell the AHL is going to
have the highest level of talent itâs ever had, and itâs going to
create a fun and challenging coaching environment. Everybodyâs talent
level will be good enough on paper to win; the trick is going to be
properly managing that talent and motivating the players to play well
as a group.
Rookies strive to make good impression for Sound Tigers
By MIKE FORNABAIO
If training camp is all about taking advantage of opportunities,
Chris Campoli is halfway to a successful fall.
A rookie defenseman looking to make an impression and earn a spot
with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Campoli has stood out over four
days of training camp at The Rinks at Shelton.
Tonight, he and other youngsters get their first chance to impress
the New York Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers' braintrusts in a
game situation. The Sound Tigers host Albany at The Rinks at 7 p.m.,
dropping the puck on the AHL preseason.
Campoli is expected to play his left defense position
he was paired Thursday with fellow rookie Bruno Gervais
"(Campoli) is a very smooth skater, very poised with the puck,"
Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin said. "He has a very efficient way he
plays. In four days, he's been very good. I'm very impressed."
The poise might come from a bit of comfort with the professional
training-camp experience. As an undrafted junior player, Campoli went
to camp with Columbus two years ago and Toronto last year. The
Islanders finally drafted him in the seventh round of June's NHL
Entry Draft with an eye toward putting him in Bridgeport this season.
"It's a little more relaxing experience," said Campoli, who is from
Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto. "I'm not pushing for that
contract, which is good, but I've still got to come in and play, too."
The poise might also come from a maturity that led the CHL, the
overall governing body for Canada's junior hockey leagues, to name
Campoli its humanitarian of the year for 2003-04.
In Erie, Pa., to play for the Otters of the Ontario Hockey League,
Campoli was involved with The Caring Place, which offers support for
kids who have lost parents or lack health insurance; with the
Shriners Hospital; and with many schools.
"Going into schools every day, reading to kids, playing floor hockey:
Hockey players, we have it pretty great," Campoli said.
While contributing to his community, Campoli boosted his numbers
every year and raised his profile as an offensive but defensively
responsible defenseman as well. His goals went from 1 to 2 to 8 to
20, and his assists went from 9 to 24 to 40 to 46.
"He likes to join the rush, and his point total last year reflects
that," Cronin said. "And it seems he's just come in here and had a
very natural way. He's played his game."
Most of the Sound Tigers' veterans are slated to sit out tonight's
game, the first of four home exhibitions over the next nine nights at
Shelton. Bridgeport hosts Springfield on Monday, Lowell on Wednesday
and Hartford on Oct. 9.
"It's a great measuring stick," Cronin said. "This is where you earn
your spot. Scrimmages get a little old sometimes, playing against the
same guys, but there's live ammunition now."