Sound Tigers Carpenter, Wahlstrom take different paths to pro hockey
BRIDGEPORT — The two newest forwards for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers both had short trips from college in Boston to join the AHL team. Their paths here were just a little different.
Bobo Carpenter, 22, wasn’t drafted, but impressed enough to earn a pro contract after his senior year at Boston University. Oliver Wahlstrom, still just 18, was a first-round draft pick of the parent New York Islanders last summer and turned pro after his freshman year at Boston College.
“I want to be a pro. I want to play hockey and focus on hockey. It’s the right decision,” Wahlstrom said after his first practice in Bridgeport. “Coming here is a dream come true. I’m going to come in slowly and work my way up. I haven’t made anything yet.”
Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said the two are options to play this weekend, though he wasn’t about to promise anything, and there are 15 other forwards here; 12 usually play. First-place Charlotte returns to Webster Bank Arena on Saturday after beating Bridgeport 4-0 on Wednesday; Hershey comes in on Sunday.
“It’s exciting to have young kids come in that have that kind of skill set,” Thompson said. “For me it’s an opportunity to see them first-hand and see them on a day-to-day basis, see how they’re going to fit in.”
Carpenter attended the Islanders’ development camp on Long Island last summer and made an impression. The Islanders made for a comfortable fit when he signed earlier in the week.
“They put a lot of interest in me, stayed in touch throughout the year,” said Carpenter, given name Robert, like his father, longtime NHL centerman Bobby Carpenter.
“You want to be where you’re wanted, and that’s what I felt. You can see that just from how great they treat you and how welcoming they are.”
Carpenter takes pride in his shot, and he scored 20 goals for BU last season, but he’s also a player who wants to focus on his play in all three zones.
Wahlstrom’s abilities with the puck have been well-known since he pulled off a lacrosse-style goal at TD Garden in Boston when he was 9. The Islanders made him the 11th pick in last year’s draft.
“(Wahlstrom’s) first practice, you see the skill set’s off the charts. I’m really excited to see him go, working with him, getting him where wants be, and where he has to be,” Thompson said. “Same with Bobo, a different kind of player but an extremely hard worker. He looks like he’s got a great shot, and (he’s) a right-shot centerman.
“We obviously want to put them in a place to succeed. It’s baby-stepping them in and see how they fit in.”
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