Summerside native recalls final week of NHL regular season with New York Islanders
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – It was a moment Brett Gallant has worked long and hard for.
© Photo Courtesy of Christopher Pasatieri
Brett Gallant in action with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League regular season.
The Summerside native, after playing 204 games in the minors, realized a childhood dream of playing an NHL regular-season game. That moment came for the New York Islanders against the Ottawa Senators on Long Island on April 8.
“It was pretty incredible,” recalled Gallant, who has previously played in pre-season games with the Islanders. “It was a dream come true for sure. It’s something I have worked hard for, and I have played the sport since I was very young.”
Gallant would play three more games for the Islanders during the final week of the regular season. He was in the lineup for games in Montreal, New Jersey and Buffalo. He did not record any points, had three fights and picked up 17 penalty minutes.
“All four games went well,” said Gallant. “The coach (Jack Capuano) rolled four lines and I got some ice time. I was real happy with how it went.
“As a team, we won the last three games to finish the season. We played hard, we had a lot of young guys in the lineup and it went well.”
As for his debut, Gallant said his game-day routine was a little different than normal. He explained: “I have a routine that I have always kept, like a lot of hockey players. I went down for my pre-game nap and I couldn’t just sleep.
“I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head, I was wanting to play well and I was nervous but excited at the same time. When I stepped on the ice the first time I was definitely nervous, but after that I was fine.”
Gallant was fortunate to share his NHL debut with family and friends. His parents, Mike (Pinky) and Patricia Gallant, wife Jenessa, son Jack, older brother Bradley, uncle Mike McIver, first cousin Adam McIver and childhood friend Naythan Praught were in the stands at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
“It was definitely special to share it with them,” said Gallant. “My parents have been my biggest supporters, and I am where I am today because of them.”
“It was pretty incredible. It was a dream come true for sure. It’s something I have worked hard for, and I have played the sport since I was very young.” Brett Gallant
Gallant was also able to see some familiar faces in Montreal as the Collicutt family – Sheldon, Ryan, Bradley and Blake – took in the Islanders’ game versus the Canadiens.
“That was real special for me,” said Gallant. “They are all huge Montreal fans, and we won the game to make it that much better.”
Gallant admitted playing in a hockey-mad city like Montreal was an experience in itself.
“It’s unbelievable,” continued Gallant. “I wasn’t a Montreal fan growing up, but just to play in that building!
“We were out there for the pre-game skate and I looked up and there were all the jerseys hanging, all the banners and the way the people of Montreal get excited for hockey, it is incredible.”
Back to Bridgeport
Gallant has returned to Bridgeport, Conn., where he will finish the American Hockey League regular season this weekend with the Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ top affiliate.
“I had year-end meeting (with the Islanders) yesterday (Monday) afternoon before I left,” said Gallant. “We talked about my plans for the summer, and everything was positive from their end for sure.”
Gallant, who has two points and 245 penalty minutes in 56 regular-season games with the Sound Tigers this season, is a restricted free agent after this season, and the Islanders have until July 1 to qualify him. If not, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“I have to work as hard as I can this summer,” said Gallant. “It’s a big summer for me. I want to go into camp and give myself an opportunity for sure.”