STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder have reached an affiliation agreement for the 2013-14 season with the New York Islanders.
“Having an NHL affiliate is an important piece of our success, and a dedicated organization like the New York Islanders brings a lot to the table,” said Sandy. “The Thunder is committed to helping our players reach their goals through NHL development, and our new affiliation with the Islanders will help us achieve this objective for them in a much bigger way.”
“We are thrilled to have the Stockton Thunder join the Islanders as the organization’s ECHL affiliate,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “The culture of success in Stockton will benefit our prospects and develop them into better hockey players as they work their way from the ECHL, to the AHL and eventually playing for the New York Islanders.”
Stockton will serve as the minor league affiliate for Islanders prospects at the premier ‘AA’ hockey league level, which includes a partnership with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. New York most recently partnered with the Kalamazoo Wings (2010-11) and Utah Grizzlies (2007-10) at the ECHL level with Andrew MacDonald, Micheal Haley, Trevor Smith, Nathan Lawson, Mikko Koskinen and Joel Rechlicz advancing to play for the Islanders after appearing in the ECHL during that time.
“It’s a great day in landing a tremendous organization like the New York Islanders as a valued NHL affiliate,” said Rich Kromm, Thunder head coach and director of hockey operations. “Coming off a great season, they’ve gained a reputation in the hockey world as a promising organization that values development of young talent. Having played for them brings an exciting familiarity on my end and we’re thrilled to begin helping develop their prospects.”
“The Islanders are building from within and their program is having success which makes us excited to call them our new partner,” said Thunder owner Brad Rowbotham. “It is important for us to follow that pattern as an organization, providing a great environment for their talented prospects in Stockton while giving all Thunder players a tremendous opportunity to advance their careers. Brian and Coach Kromm bring a lot of credibility to this agreement with their extensive experience at many levels and their involvement played a role in making this happen”.
Former ECHL coach and executive Jack Capuano is the head coach of the Islanders, while 2010-11 ECHL Coach of the Year Brent Thompson, who led the Alaska Aces to the 2011 Kelly Cup title, is an assistant coach with the club.