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Syvret & Rakhshani Trying To Impress & Rookie game

September 14, 2010, 10:01 PM ET [ Comments]
Dee Karl
New York Islanders Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
**10:22 pm: Well, not the way they wanted it to go for sure. Too many penalties, too many missed opportunities and too high strung. According to Newsday's Katie Strang who is in Boston, she Tweeted that Scott Gordon felt the team lacked consistent jump. The 5-2 final was punctuated by a Jordan Caron empty netter to land him a hat trick for the night. Nino Niederreiter had his first fight in an Islander sweater and he said he tried his best. However, the decidedly Bruins slanted announcer did everything but call him a sissy for his performance against Tyler Randell. It was uncalled for.

Casey Cizikas was quite noticeable, especially flying around without his helmet. Kirill Kabanov seemed to be somewhat frustrated as he took an extended amount of time getting off an opponent on the outside of the net late in the game. It wouldn't change the score.

In front of almost 12,000 animated hockey-starved Bruins fans, the Islanders lost their first pre-exhibition exhibition game. Perhaps tomorrow will be different.

**7:32 pm: Well, of coruse I'm the only human on Long Island that is having a hard time streaming the rookie game from the Press room channel on the Islanders website. I can get it from the NHL.com site though. Great to have something. Just wish the Bruins camera men were a little more fair with their camera angles.

So Mikko in net and in the first period the Isles gave up three power plays and then there was a penalty called on Sequin only 4 seconds left. The Islaners will end up with a 15 second power play should they not take another one when the second period starts.

*10:14 am The NY Islanders have just announced that ITV will be carrying a webstream of tonight's rookie game from Boston! Be sure to check out their main website for more details!
The rookies were on the ice by 10 am. Of course, I arrived by 10:30. Kirill Kabanov was already on the ice under the watchful eye of his babysitter in the bleachers.

I brought everything with me this time, camera, video, tape recorder, netbook and little Amish cell phone that (amazingly) I can Twitpic from. I laid it all out on the bleachers trying to be prepared.

On the ice, the "Coven Of Coaches" (Thank you TheViewFrom111) were gathered listening to the instructions of Scott Gordon and keeping order from turning into chaos. There is little time to teach them the system. Some will get it, some won't. Some have heard the wrath of Scott Gordon's whistle before.

"Use your partner! You have to USE your partner!" Gordon barked at the D in their dark blue practice jerseys. He lifted his glove to his mouth and blew the whistle again. They did it wrong. "What did I just say to you?" This is one of Scott Gordon's best attributes. He teaches in a stern tone that let's the offender know he is disappointed. The players take notice and try not to disappoint him again.

The practice seemed endless. They were panting and sweating and there wasn't the usual good natured ribbing going on. This is business. This is important. Some of these youngsters already know their fate at the end of the camp. They are returning to their junior clubs or back to school. For those "on the bubble" as Justin Bourne described in his latest entry for The Hockey News, what happens the next two weeks can make or break a player.

Two such players are Corey Syvret and Rhett Rakshani. After the drills, the majority of the rookies left the ice Kirill Kabanov stayed with assistant coach Scott Allen who had him skate full out from board to bench, over and over again. By the time he was allowed to leave the ice, his face was reddish-purple and he was grimacing. As he passed by Newsday's Katie Strang and I on the bleachers, he managed a strained smile and breathless "I'm good. I'm good." in response to our questions of "How are you?" Katie was being asking as a professional, I asked concerned he would collapse on the concrete.

All during the practice, I tried to get photos of both Corey and Rhett, but sadly they are a little fuzzy. The settings on my camera don't exactly keep up with hockey players flying on the ice.

"Syvret is in the stall to the right as soon as you walk in the room." I was glad for the direction since I wasn't exactly sure I would recognize him without a name plate.
I had been told that like his brother, Danny, Corey Syvret was friendly and gregarious. It was no lie. As he sat in his under armor trying to cool down, it rained sweat and ice on his stall from his equipment placed above.

Corey Syvret was drafted by the Florida Panthers, but never signed. They retained his rights for two years and attended two camps with them, so when he found himself without a pro contract, it was a difficult situation and he put an intense amount of pressure on himself.

"A lot of good things happen with the pressure I put on myself. I didn't put too much pressure on myself, just enough to push myself to the next level. I know what I was doing before obviously wasn't cutting it. I don't know if it was contracts or if it was my play, but obviously any time you can make yourself a better player, it's going to open opportunities. I think last year with an over age season, I think it was a benefit."

Corey did well in Quelph and Captained their team. He is grateful to the Islanders for offering him a contract and is happy to be here. As a 21-year-old rookie, Corey not only has the benefit of added experience but also of maturity in mind and body.
The youngest of three sons of an ex-hockey player, Corey has a keen understanding of what it takes to make it in the NHL.

"I'm pretty excited. It's a long summer, especially when in the OHL we only play 68 games, you have a week off and then we were beat out in only five games. So it was an early start to my summer. I was excited to get my training out of the way, but by the end of August I was starting to look foward to getting into games. I've had a good time practicing here with this squad. And as far as everyone is concerned, we're excited for the intensity of a game."

Like the others at Ice Works, Corey is preparing for two back-to-back games in Boston, home of the Bruins. So far, they have sold 7,000 tickets to each game for only $5 each. Not a bad price to watch the future of the NHL.

“No, I’ve never been there.” His smile grew wide with anticipation when I asked him if he had ever played in Boston. “I’ve heard there are so many great cities in the NHL. I’m just excited to get a chance to go out into Boston and prove ourselves as an organization.”
Every one of these guys is looking forward to playing against Tyler Sequin. “Obviously he’s a very talented player." There are four or five players that Corey knows of and he said it will help to know their strengths and weaknesses.

I ended by asking him what he felt he needed to do in order to impress coach Scott Gordon. His blue eyes seemed to darken as he became introspective. “I’d say play strong against the opposing defenseman; the taller defenseman, the bigger defenseman. I’m strong. I don’t know if I’m more of a defensive or offensive defenseman, but I try to play a well rounded game. I can used my size and strength towards defensive defensemen. I can be real strong around the front of the net and obviously take care of my own zone. There is a lot of talent here with Nino Niederreiter, Casey Cizikas, and Rhett. So I just have to get the puck into their hands. They have better hands than I do. So if I clean up my own end, clear the front so the goalie can see everything and just get the puck into their hands.”

Seems easy, right? It’s not.

On the other side of the cramped and crowded locker room, Rhett Rakshani had his back to me. A man with a proper upbringing, he excused himself to put on a shirt before speaking with me and then offered an eager smile. Rhett is listed as the smallest player on the roster for the upcoming games. As I stood in my heels looking only slightly upward, I wondered if the listing of 5’ 10” was totally accurate. But his size on this squad is not a detriment considering his talent level.

Rakshani spent two years developing in the USA National program, where “It was good to play with some of the best players in the nation. You see guys that are in the NHL right now like Pat Kane and Erik Johnson and other kids who will be up in the NHL soon. So you’re playing against some of the top players.” With every international tournament he played against some of the best players in the world.

Rhett was also a top ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and was the senior captain of the university of Denver Pioneers. He stands out on every team he plays on. In April, Rhett joined the Sound Tigers for their last five regular season games and the few they played against the Hershey Bears during the Tigers brief run at the Calder Cup Playoffs.
“It was a really good experience for me just to get out there with the guys and get a taste for it and get a taste for the speed and the strength, and also the lifestyle of being a player. Although it was quick, it was really good for me to get a taste. So I’m definitely happy I did that.“

I asked Rhett if being a California native in a sport dominated by cold weather dwellers was a problem for him. Pride filled his face, “I LIKE the fact that I’m from California. I think it’s cool because it’s a lot different than most people. I have a different background. I’m normally one of the few if not ONLY one from California on any team. So I kinda like representing like that.”

While hockey is growing under the palm trees of the west coast, it is still not easy to develop into a professional hockey player there. But Rhett said his path wasn’t so difficult. “For me it wasn’t hard just because I fell in love with the game and I found a way to go play and practice every day whether it was in my garage or roller hockey or drive a little ways to get to an ice rink. It’s not so easy in that there aren’t rinks everywhere, so you can’t just drive five minutes away. I think the closest rink was about 20 minutes away. It’s just a little harder and my parents made a big sacrifice driving me all around the state to get me to play hockey.”

Unlike some of the other rookies, Rhett has played in Boston before. “I played against Boston University one time. I’ve been there a couple of occasions. I’m excited to on the ice and get a real game going. It’s been a while. It will be fun to get going with all these guys. A lot of us know each other from previous camps.”

As this is Rhett’s first time heading into main training camp, I asked him what he thought he had to do to impress Scott Gordon. “I think the biggest thing is just to work hard and keep things simple. I think they want you to be the player that you are and the player that they recruited and signed you to be. And for me that’s offensive and just play my game with confidence.”

Rhett Rakhshani has plenty of confidence. He should have. He definitely has the skills.
I will be very interested to see how everyone does these next two days. Too bad we will be relying on those who are at the game to let us know what is going on.
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