AP NEWS

Dal Colle builds on short Sound Tigers stint in Islanders camp

September 17, 2016

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — This New York Islanders’ rookie camp doesn’t feel any different for Michael Dal Colle, but there’s a big difference in where he’ll be next month.

“It’s a little different because it’s my first year pro,” Dal Colle said Friday as the Islanders started a week-long camp for the youngsters at Northwell Health Ice Center’s Al Arbour Rink.

“I’m looking forward to a good camp and working hard.”

Dal Colle, one of the Islanders’ top prospects, got a taste of pro hockey in the spring with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He could start the upcoming season in Bridgeport as well, though his focus, obviously, is on making the Islanders out of camp.

“I see improvement from him every season,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said.

“The experience he had in the American League, he seems to be stronger on the puck. ... He’s put some weight on. He’s only going to continue to get better.”

Dal Colle arrived for the last weekend of the Sound Tigers’ season after his junior team was eliminated from the OHL playoffs. His pro debut was the night Bridgeport clinched a playoff spot.

He had no points and was a minus-6 in three regular-season games. He also played all three playoff games in Toronto’s three-game sweep.

“It was cool to play Toronto, a good team,” Dal Colle said. His family got to see him play Game 3, which was neat for them; he earned an assist, his first as a pro, on the first goal in that loss.

“It’s always different. When you’re playing junior, you’re playing kids your own age. You get to pro, they’re adults there, with families, kids. It’s a little bit of an adjustment.”

The 23 players at rookie camp include 13 who played for the Sound Tigers last season and another handful who could wind up with them. One from the latter class is Josh Ho-Sang, the Islanders’ other first-round pick from 2014; Dal Colle went fifth, while Ho-Sang was the 28th pick.

At least to start at the camp, Ho-Sang and Dal Colle were together on a line with Mathew Barzal, the team’s top pick in 2015.

The group will practice through Wednesday morning, then host a scrimmage Wednesday at 6 p.m. against the Philadelphia Flyers’ youngsters.

“I actually thought (Friday) was a great start,” Thompson said. “The guys came out and played extremely hard. They had good attention to detail. They set a high standard.”

The experienced Islanders — at least the ones not involved in the World Cup, including coach Jack Capuano — join in after that. The Islanders will play Washington in a preseason game at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Oct. 1.

The Sound Tigers open their camp two days later, have a home exhibition game at the Wonderland of Ice on Oct. 8, and start their 16th AHL season for real on Oct. 15.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp; http://blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio