BRIDGEPORT -- His body feels, Rick DiPietro said Wednesday, as good as it has felt in a long time. He needs to play some games.
He didn't have an indication that the New York Islanders were going to send him down last week, but now that he's a Bridgeport Sound Tiger, the goalie plans to make the most of it.
"It's going really well," DiPietro said at Webster Bank Arena after his second Bridgeport practice. "It's an unbelievable group of guys here. I'm looking forward to winning a lot of games with them."
The original Sound Tiger, now 31, went from his two years and a Calder Cup Final appearance in Bridgeport to an all-star NHL career. That has been short-circuited by all manner of injuries the past five years.
He had played little for the Islanders, who swapped him and Kevin Poulin on Saturday.
"The last couple of years, with all the injuries, if it's taught me anything, it's that I need to enjoy what I do," DiPietro said. "It's a good opportunity to play a lot of games and get sharp. At the end of the day, you want to compete. You want to win. That's what I want to do."
Returning to Bridgeport reunites him with his friend and two-year Sound Tigers teammate, Steve Valiquette. The Milford resident became the Sound Tigers' goalie coach this season. DiPietro, Valiquette and Kenny Reiter did extra video work after practice.
"I love Valley. He's one of the best human beings," DiPietro said. "We were driving to the rink (Tuesday) going over some old times."
DiPietro and Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said they haven't talked about a schedule. Bridgeport plays three games in three days this weekend, Friday in Hartford and Saturday and Sunday at home against Adirondack and the Connecticut Whale.
Taking away two conditioning stints, his Bridgeport debut this year will be his first game as a regular AHL goalie in almost a decade. Even so, he remains the only Sound Tigers goalie to win a best-of-7 playoff series.
That debut will also be his first game since Feb. 19; he fell to 0-3 in the NHL that night, with 71 saves on 83 shots in the three games.
"It's just playing games," DiPietro said. "You can't replicate games, game speed.
"I'll be able to do that here."
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