Okposo’s Debut!

Well – Islanders ice new cast, yet suffer the same result.

Kyle OkposoSometimes it doesn’t really matter who you call up to replace players lost to injury, even if they are your top prospect. This is by no means a knock at Kyle Okposo, despite playing a great game he just couldn’t provide enough of a spark to get the Islanders firing on all of their remaining cylinders. The shots were close during the first period and the ice looked fairly choppy so there weren’t many end to end rushes, but the game was relatively close. The Isles took a few early penalties and on one particular penalty kill, a seemingly innocent clearing attempt by defenseman Rob Davison bounced down the length of the ice and right over Toskala’s glove for a 1-0 lead. The goal was measured at 178 feet and it marked the first time Davison has scored this season.

I don’t know what it is about these types of freaky bounce goals, but this isn’t the first time that Okposo has been on a team where it has happened. While playing for Michigan, a bouncing puck allowed North Dakota to tie the game while shorthanded. The difference this time, the bounce went the way of Okposo’s team instead of the other way around. Had I known this I would’ve asked him about it last night – I will be sure to get on that for the next home game.

Getting back on track, the rest of the game was very poorly executed. The Isles did have some pressure and a chance here and there, but they just couldn’t hold onto the lead and eventually allowed a tying goal in the third period. With the game tied at 1-1, the Islanders took yet another penalty and I thought to myself this would decide the game. With that, the Leafs scored and went ahead 2-1. They would top it off with an empty net goal and mar Kyle Okposo’s professional career with a loss.

Okposo Watch!

Kyle OkposoKyle played a pretty good game considering it was his very first experience playing against NHL caliber talent. I took a bunch of pictures during his first shift and throughout the game, I will upload those tomorrow as I need to get to bed early tonight. I know there are those out there salivating for Kyle’s exact stats from last night, so here they are:

Total Shifts: 15
Time on Ice: 14:45
Power Play Time: 1:33
Average Shift: 0:59
Shots: 2
Takeaways: 1
Giveaways: 1

Kyle, whom I have already praised for his poise with the press – continued to do so with his self-assessment last night. When asked how he felt he did given the amount of attention he received, he had this to say:

“I was a bit jittery,” Okposo said. “I think I psyched myself out. I thought the game was faster than it was the first period. I started to calm down a bit in the second and third … In between the first and second periods, I was like, ‘It’s no different than what I’ve played.’

The entire press corps had almost the same exact question, where numerous journalists asked the same question at the same time. Everyone wanted to know what he felt about the talent difference between Collegiate hockey, the AHL and the NHL. If anyone is the right person to ask this question to, it would be Kyle as he has played in each level over a period of 6 months. His response was the following, as expected:

“Obviously, the players are better, but hockey is hockey anywhere you go, whether it be on the pond or in the NHL or the AHL. It’s still hockey. I’ve played the game a thousand times, and it’s not going to change.”

His answer screamed confidence, so between the help of veterans like Guerin helping him out throughout the night, continued practice and eventually numerous games – Kyle Okposo will completely arrive at the NHL level and will continue to impress. He may not have had a game winner or been a difference maker, but he definately impressed me with his play last night.

Congratulations Kyle, I wish you many years of success and look forward to watching you grow into the powerhouse we know you can be.

Michael Schuerlein

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