By Michael Fornabaio
Connecticut Post Online
NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. – If James Sixsmith looks like one of the best players on the ice for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this training camp, maybe it’s because, as he says, he’s been here before.
Maybe not here, as in Northford Ice Pavilion, where the Sound Tigers struggled so much in a 7-0 loss to Hartford that Sixsmith barely knew what to say. It’s here, as in the AHL, where he turned a brief tryout with the Sound Tigers into the start of his pro career.
He split last season between the Milwaukee Admirals and their Cincinnati ECHL affiliate.
“Last year, I tried to play myself into a spot at camp, and I played pretty well,” Sixsmith said. “In this kind of thing, you’re on the outside looking in. You’ve got to beat somebody out, take somebody’s job.”
Sixsmith may be on the verge of doing that. He has an ECHL contract with Utah, the Sound Tigers’ affiliate.
Combine his performance with the parent New York Islanders’ and the Sound Tigers’ injury woes, and he might be earning an AHL deal.
“I thought James worked hard,” Bridgeport coach Jack Capuano said. “He got a lot of ice time. He hasn’t played center much in his career, but he won some key faceoffs in the defensive and offensive zones.”
Capuano knew Sixsmith a bit from that tryout Sixsmith had after completing his senior season at Holy Cross. He played three games and scored three points.
“I’m really confident in myself. I’ve been overlooked because of my size,” said Sixsmith, 24, who’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds.
He came out of Alexandria, Va., to play first at Canterbury for former Fairfield Prep coach Peter Lavigne, and then at Holy Cross.
The Sound Tigers brought him in on an amateur tryout.
On March 31, 2007, Sixsmith scored what probably should have been remembered as the turning-point goal of the season. His second of the night gave the Sound Tigers a 5-4 lead at Hershey with 3:22 remaining.
It wasn’t his fault that Billy Thompson and the Sound Tigers allowed two goals in the next 31 seconds, crushing Bridgeport’s playoff hopes.
Milwaukee took him on last season. He played only 17 games for the Admirals, scoring a goal and an assist, but stuck around for most of the season.
“I learned a lot about being a professional,” Sixsmith said. “I learned a lot about how to conduct myself.”
He had a goal and an assist Wednesday against Albany, and Capuano has praised his line, with Tom May and Mike Walsh, throughout the week.