22-year-old winger Justin DiBenedetto will make his NHL debut tonight against Washington. The feisty Bridgeport forward has 15 goals and 8 assists in 40 games for the Sound Tigers this season.
"DiBo has played exceptionally well and the reason why is he gone to those gritty, dirty areas," coach Jack Capuano said. "He always attacks the net, he has good hands and a quick shots and he's become a much better skater."
Capuano plans to use him on a line with Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey tonight, although winger Matt Martin will flip flop with him on that line.
Speaking of Martin, DiBenedetto's arrival reunites three former teammates from the OHL's Sarnia Sting. Martin, DiBenedetto, and defenseman Mark Katic all played for the Sting as Islanders prospects and then together in Bridgeport.
"It's pretty special," Martin said. "Not many teams, not many players can say that. To all end up with the same NHL team and to be up there at the same time. It's pretty remarkable."
DiBenedetto's parents couldn't book a flight out of Toronto (he hails from nearby Maple, Ontario) but managed to find one out of Buffalo for their son's first NHL game.
"It's exciting," DiBenedetto said. "This is what you dream about all your life."