By Michael Fornabaio
Connecticut Post Online
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Colton Fretter couldn’t see his first goal go in the net last Saturday. He was about to get face-planted in the crease.
That didn’t really bother Fretter, who joined Bridgeport on Feb. 28 from the Chicago Wolves. He might be one of the smallest players on the team, but he has no worries about going into traffic or about planting himself in front of the net.
“Whatever I have to do,” said Fretter who has played in the ECHL each of his first two seasons with Gwinnett. “You can’t play with fear, or else you’re not going to be a good player.”
Fretter is listed at 5-foot-10, 197 pounds. He turned 26 last Wednesday but looks a little younger, although a shiner from last week under his left eye toughens the image a little bit. And watching him camp out in front of goaltenders on the power play toughens the image in a more lasting manner.
“He’s not afraid,” coach Jack Capuano said. “Let’s face it: He’s trying to earn a contract. He’s trying to prove to the Islanders organization, and whoever else is in the stands, that he can play in this league, that he can play at a high level.”
Fretter played last year and this year on AHL contracts with the Wolves. He spent most of last year in the ECHL and was named the CCM Tacks Rookie of the Year. He was stuck on a strong Wolves roster this year and had played only eight games. Desperate for scoring at the AHL’s Clear Day deadline, the Sound Tigers took on his contract. He scored two goals in his Bridgeport debut March 1.
“That was one area Garth (Snow, Islanders GM) and Howard (Saffan, Bridgeport president) were looking at at the deadline,” Capuano said. “We had a little bit of a lack of scoring. He’s a guy the scouts have seen, that they know. He put up numbers at the ECHL level. We’ve given him an opportunity.”
Fretter has five goals in seven games, though all five have come in only three. He scored the last goal Friday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, then added two Saturday against Philadelphia. The second was a deflection in front on the power play. The first was even prettier: Trevor Smith set him up at the front of the net, and he scored as he was cross-checked to the ice.
“It was just a dirty, garbage goal,” Fretter said. “I’ll take whatever I can get. Smitty did great work (to get it to the front). I took a cross-check, and the siren went.”
Fretter’s offense has helped with a lineup in flux. The changes continued this past weekend, as the Islanders took top prospect Kyle Okposo — he’ll make his NHL debut on Tuesday — and Jeremy Colliton on Sunday. They returned Tim Jackman and Ben Walter to the Sound Tigers, who travel to Worcester on Wednesday. With a surplus of forwards again, Bridgeport sent Micheal Haley and Ryan Kinasewich to Utah (ECHL).