From the New York Islanders:
“We are excited to partner with the Worcester Railers Hockey Club as our new ECHL affiliate and bring professional hockey back to an already established hockey city. The proximity of having our ECHL team within driving distance from Bridgeport and the Islanders is a definite benefit. The Railers great ownership group, led by Cliff Rucker, has set a platform for our prospects to develop their game in their brand new practice facility, Worcester Ice Center facility. We’ve had several members of the current Islanders team play games in the ECHL and look forward to continuing that trend with the Railers.” – Garth Snow
“The Worcester Railers are thrilled to become affiliates with a first-class organization in the New York Islanders. We are looking forward to working closely with the organization to help develop their prospects, while at the same time having the overall goal to win hockey games. Our new affiliation with the Islanders includes integration into their scouting system, strength and conditioning program, and training camps among other things. We are excited for the players and the fans as we bring a whole new level of professional hockey to Massachusetts and are paired up with an organization that has been built through its development to become a perennial playoff contender.” -Railers General Manager and Head Coach Jamie Russell
My take: There’s no question that some of the Bridgeport players did not like the travel to Missouri and the Islanders have addressed this as the travel time from Bridgeport to Worcester is roughly two hours…by car. A brand new facility also means attracting more college free agents to the organization. If they cannot make the cut on Bridgeport’s team the first time around, playing in a new facility lessens the blow a bit. For those that are reading this and say “Who cares?” Remember that the Islanders have had players, especially their goalies, come up from the ECHL and see NHL time: Alan Quine (Playoff game winner), Connor Jones, J.F Berube, Eric Cairns, Ruslan Fedotenko, Wade Flaherty, Christopher Gibson, Thomas Greiss, Andrew MacDonald, Al Montoya, and Mark Streit. There are more names, but more recognizable to the Sound Tigers fans. You get the point. This is just making the Islanders organization more attractive on a whole. Now how about some Belmont news?