New York Islanders rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin is going to start seeing some more time in net, head coach Barry Trotz confirmed on Tuesday morning.
“He’s going to take a bigger piece of the load from [Semyon Varlamov],” Trotz said. “He’s had plenty of time to adjust. He’s had some failures and he’s had some successes.”
As of late, it’s been nothing but those successes.
The 24-year-old goaltender — who finally arrived in North America to much fanfare over the summer after being drafted by the Islanders in 2014 and spending six professional seasons in the Russian KHL — has only appeared in five of the team’s first 21 games of the season and did not get the nod for Tuesday night’s game in New Jersey against the Devils.
Varlamov has had a firm grasp on the starting job after a blistering start to the 2021 season in which he went 7-3-2 with a .930 save percentage. There has been a dip in performance over his last four outings, losing half of those games, which makes a regular platoon all the more valuable for the Islanders.
Each of Trotz’s first two seasons in New York has featured some of the best goalie tandems in the game — first with Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss before Semyon Varlamov replaced the former last year.
Now with Sorokin coming into his own, a new dynamic duo in the crease looks ready to go.
After a shaky start that included three losses in his first three appearances, Sorokin has posted two-straight shutouts in his last two outings that were 12 days apart in Buffalo against the Sabres before stonewalling the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night in his first-ever start at Nassau Coliseum.
It’s no easy task to stay so sharp with nearly two weeks between starts.
“If you’re not playing, you work on practice 100% to be ready every day,” Sorokin said.
He has stopped each of his last 40 shots faced to go with his 120-minute shutout streak, which has now forced Trotz’s hand to search for more playing time.
“He was spot on,” Trotz said of Sorokin after his shutout Sunday against the Penguins. “Every time he plays, he looks more and more comfortable.
“I’m going to look at the schedule… and we’ll react to every game as we do… Ilya’s going to obviously get more looks and more opportunities for sure.”