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Sound Tigers Captain Ben Holmstrom returns with unfinished business

September 27, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Ben Holmstrom returned for a fourth season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this summer with a little unfinished business.

He had high hopes for the three teams he has played on here, but they only made the playoffs in his first season and didn’t win a playoff game. That’s south of the goals the Sound Tigers set for themselves.

“With the guys they brought in, the guys coming through, it looks like we’ve got a really good team. Take a lot of the things we’ve built over the last couple of years like team identity, and transfer it into the guys we have now,” Holmstrom said.

“I don’t think necessarily the way we play or the way we carry ourselves is going to change much, but we’re definitely trying to take the next step into being one of the top teams in the league, making the playoffs and seeing what kind of run we can make.”

Free-agent additions like Chris Bourque, Mike Sislo and Matt Lorito (who’s out injured with a week and a half to go before the regular season) look to inject some offense and deepen the group of forwards. And a lot of other faces are familiar, including Holmstrom, who has played every game over three seasons and been captain for all 228 games.

He fits right into that team identity.

“Night in, night out, practices, games, you know how he’s going to play, how he approaches everything,” said Brent Thompson, who’s beginning his sixth season as Sound Tigers coach. “I couldn’t be happier to have the kid back in the mix. He’s an extension of the coaching staff, is what he is. He believes in what we want, which is, at the end of the day, win the Calder Cup.

“He’s willing to do whatever it takes.”

Holmstrom played two years on NHL contracts with the New York Islanders, Bridgeport’s parent club. He came to camp last year on a tryout, earning an AHL contract. He got another AHL contract earlier this time around.

After playing those three full seasons, he ranks eighth on the Sound Tigers’ all-time list. Another 63 games this year would leave him behind only Mark Wotton and Jeremy Colliton, two other Sound Tigers captains.

“Having Ben here is going to be a big piece for our hockey team,” Thompson said. “He’s going to be a glue. He’s going to be a voice in the room, a guy in practice: His habits are tight, the way he approaches the game. He’s a true pro. I’m excited to have him back. He’ll be a big part of our leadership group, controlling the room.”

Holmstrom’s individual goals are less about numbers than about that unfinished business.

“I think for me it’s all about how well the team does,” Holmstrom said. “Every guy’s trying to find their role, their place, how they fit in. I’m no different than anybody else.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp; blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio

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