Hello, old frienemies / So long, already: Hartford pregame

Couple of guests for the weekend for the Sound Tigers: The Islanders sent veterans Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd down this morning for a conditioning stint. Lou Lamoriello, as relayed by Andrew Gross, said that they’ll play tonight and tomorrow, and they’ll go from there.

Hickey’s first AHL game since Jan. 11, 2013. The Islanders claimed him four days later when Los Angeles tried to keep him in Manchester after the lockout. Ladd’s last AHL game since Dec. 14, 2007, for Albany, at Lowell. He scored a goal. Two days earlier, he’d played in Bridgeport. Linemates: Keith Aucoin and Ryan Bayda.

With the eternal help of the Slate-a-Base: Ladd arrives with 934 NHL games under his belt. Appears only one man has stepped onto the ice for the Sound Tigers with more, unless I’m missing one (and I feel like I am): Mike Sillinger in 2008-09, who’d played 1,042 of his 1,049 games in the Show. Brendan Witt had been second with 890.Ted Donato, Mark Parrish and Eric Boulton were all over 650. (Hickey has 441.)

And the first of the two to get a shift tonight becomes the 500th man to play in a Sound Tigers regular-season game.

Fortunately for Bridgeport, the vets don’t count as vets: On their first conditioning loan, players don’t count toward the veteran rule.

As promised the other day, the guys who sat out last night are back in tonight. Those sitting out include Matt Lorito, John Stevens, Ben Holmstrom, Chris Casto and, for the first time, Kieffer Bellows, plus, apparently, Mitch Vande Sompel. (Also as promised, I guess, everyone is a candidate to sit out, and they’re going to get guys rest with the brutal schedule. All are apparently healthy.)

Meanwhile, if it seems weird that Bridgeport and Hartford are finishing their season series in mid-February, it is. Hartford was Bridgeport’s season-finale opponent seven times in the first 17 years. Aside from those years, they completed their series in the second-to-last game of Bridgeport’s season once and in the third-to-last twice more, never with more than 12 games to go in a season. If you average it out over those 17 seasons, they play their last game of the year with four games to go, and not before March 14.

This year? Feb. 16 and 22 games remaining. Weird.

Matt Finn does indeed make his Harbor Yard return, though.

F: Ladd – Fritz – Ho-Sang
St. Denis-Koivula-C.Bourque
R.Bourque-Kubiak-Bernier (A)
D: Hickey-Burroughs (C)
Helgeson (A)-Aho
(Vande Sompel-scratch)
G: Gibson

F: Beleskey-Holland (A)-Butler
Gropp-Fogarty (A)-Gettinger
D: Lindgren-Gilmour
G: Halverson

R: Normandin, Nichol. L: K.Briganti, Kiriakos.

This should be the box.

Bridgeport scratches (believed healthy unless noted): Casto, apparently Vande Sompel, Bellows, B.Holmstrom (veteran), Lorito, Sislo (upper), Stevens.

First Bridgeport game for referee Alex Normandin. First game in Bridgeport for referee Mackenzie Nichol, who worked the Sound Tigers’ second game this season, in Hershey. Linesman John Kiriakos working a doubleheader: Had the Sacred Heart-RIT game here this afternoon, too.

Michael Fornabaio