Andreoff leading on the ice and in family life

Photo: Greg Vasil

📝 by Dalton Rice | AHL On The Beat

Andy Andreoff embodies everything the Bridgeport Islanders are about. Tough, gritty, and hard to play against. On top of that, he has a resilient nose for the net.

Since joining the Islanders organization ahead of the 2021-22 season, the veteran forward has been a mainstay at the dots and a key figure in all three zones. He’s grounded Bridgeport’s top power-play unit more times than not and wears an “A” on his sweater for the second season.

“He’s a leader, first and foremost,” head coach Brent Thompson said. “He’s a great guy to have in our locker room and means a lot to this team. [Andy] finds ways to the net and plays hard every shift. He’s got an unmatched willingness to compete.”

Now in his 11th professional season, Andreoff is on pace for a career year. Entering Saturday’s action, his 17 goals were two off the league lead, and just nine shy of his career high set with Syracuse in 2018-19. He is already one goal away from his grand total from last season.

Eight of his 17 goals have come on the power play, tied for third in the AHL. With one more, Andreoff will tie a career-high nine goals on the man advantage, a mark that took 75 games to reach in 2018-19. He reached 200 career AHL points on Nov. 5, and scored his 100th AHL goal on Dec. 11.

It’s been a season filled with milestones for the 31-year-old Andreoff, but not just on the ice. This past summer was life-changing when he became a father: he and his fiancée, Lauren, welcomed their first child, Nash James, in August.

“Being a dad is super fun,” Andreoff said. “I learn something new every day. My fiancée is a rock star which makes being on the road a little easier.”

The Islanders were on the road before their brief holiday break, but not far away playing in Hartford on Dec. 23 — which made for additional family time.

“We had some family come up for the holidays, and even though he (Nash) is only a few months old, we still made the whole thing special, and obviously, this one meant more to us,” Andreoff said. “The little guy threw us a couple smiles and even slept in a bit.”

No doubt playing with a new addition at home comes with extra responsibility, but he’s got teammates to lean on in that aspect as well. Cory Schneider, Paul Thompson and Chris Terry have also experienced fatherhood while continuing their playing careers at a high level.

Terry, a five-time AHL All-Star, has been skating alongside Andreoff for much of the season.

“It’s great to see Andy grow as a person and I’m so happy for him and Lauren,” Terry said. “We have been playing together for a year and a half now and what I’ve noticed is he’s as tough as they come. On the power play, he is a true bumper, he feeds off contact. Being a big, productive body out front is more than just having the size, but also the know of how to control a puck even when you don’t have time to collect it.”

Over the past month, Bridgeport has lost a chunk of its core roster due to promotions with the New York Islanders amid injuries. Andreoff is one of six Bridgeport Islanders to skate in each of their first 32 games.

“That’s part of the job,” Andreoff said. “After all, this is a developmental league where guys are always working to get to that next level. Losing guys who are playing well and filling roles in games down here is tough, but we have guys coming up from the ECHL that are playing well and making the best of their opportunities.”

Andreoff has been on both sides of that situation as well. The former Los Angeles Kings draft pick has played 185 NHL games between the Kings, Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, including six games with New York last season, where he scored one goal. He’s played 366 games in the AHL.

He’s looking to take that experience and translate it into more wins for Bridgeport in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division.

“We are getting great chances right now,” Andreoff continued. “Every single guy is playing their position to where they need to be. At the end of the day, we have to win games and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team.”