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SOUND TIGERS Helgeson always ready to talk on the ice

November 21, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Communication was a point of emphasis in Bridgeport Sound Tigers practices a few weeks ago as the team turned a corner from its up-and-down start into its current run toward the top of the AHL.

The Sound Tigers’ coaches wanted talk in the defensive zone: calling out switches in coverage, giving directions to teammates chasing the puck behind their net, talking as they tried to move the play up-ice.

But there was one guy that they didn’t have to worry about. Sit upstairs in a crowd, and you’ll often still hear Seth Helgeson shouting to his defense partner.

“Communication helps not only your partner, but the other three guys out there. It’s something we need to do more of,” said Helgeson, one of the veterans and an alternate captain for Bridgeport for the second year in a row.

“It gets you into the game a little more. It gets the other guys riled up. From the coaching staff on down, it’s been expressed to communicate more, get some of these kids out of their comfort zone. They’re starting to do it more and more.”

Helgeson, on and off the ice, is one of the more gregarious Sound Tigers anyway.

“Having him back there, he’s a voice. He’s energy. He’s a voice in the locker room,” Thompson said. “He gets what we want. He gets what the team needs. He’s the old-school leader.”

Helgeson, 28, signed with Bridgeport’s parent club, the New York Islanders, in 2017 after four seasons in the New Jersey Devils organization. He re-upped for two more years over the summer.

He said coaches at the University of Minnesota urged communication on their players, but it became a particular point of emphasis once he turned pro.

“It’s hard, honestly,” Thompson said. “It’s almost a skill, communication. For me, you see young guys, maybe they’re a little cautious, don’t want to say too much. It’s encouraged from us, from other leaders: Talk. It’s like an extra set of eyes.

“That’s why having Helgy helps the young guys, shows them that when you communicate, it makes things easier.”

To Helgeson, even though a lot of the cast in Bridgeport returned from last season, this year was a bit of a fresh start. There’s a new braintrust on Long Island, including general manager Lou Lamoriello, familiar from their days with the Devils.

He hasn’t missed a game since joining Bridgeport at the start of last season. Friday’s home game against Hartford marks the end of the first quarter of his second season, in which the Sound Tigers picked up a few veteran forwards and have run off a 7-0-1-0 streak since Nov. 3.

His usual physical presence and a regular on the penalty kill, Helgeson is trying to be consistent, he said, in the little things.

“Communicating, making guys’ lives a little easier, being a leader, just continuing on, playing physical defense, all the little things like that,” Helgeson said.

“It’s early on in the year. You want to build that consistency, build that core that we have and carry on.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp; http://blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio

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