Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang might not get many chances to garner attention in the Islanders' main training camp in September, but the two first-round picks from the June 27 draft got their first tastes of competition in an Islanders uniform Thursday night during the Blue-White prospect scrimmage before a healthy July crowd of 4,000 fans at the Coliseum.
There are 14 NHL-experienced forwards on the roster -- with two others, Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas, who currently are restricted free agents -- so Dal Colle and Ho-Sang almost certainly will be limited to soaking up as much as they can when the big camp rolls around.
This week's prospect camp and Thursday night's scrimmage were opportunities to show why the Islanders selected Dal Colle fifth overall and why Garth Snow dealt two second-round picks to the Lightning for the 28th pick to select the dynamic Ho-Sang. Both had their moments during the scrimmage.
Dal Colle, a big left wing, made a neat little pass in his own zone to start a rush that led to his White team's first goal. Dal Colle took a hit to make that pass, and that likely drew the attention of the team's coaching and development staff.
Ho-Sang set up a pair of goals for the Blue team and scored a nifty breakaway goal that highlighted the young winger's speed and creativity. That goal brought the biggest cheers of the night from the dedicated fans on hand.
Of course, there were some reminders that both of these young talents are only 18 and attending their first pro camps. Dal Colle couldn't get a shot off twice on a couple of breakaways, and Ho-Sang was bounced around by any number of bigger, older defensemen, the likes of which he'll see more and more of when he returns in September for the main camp.
"I know everyone felt like I had a great game, but that first period was rough for me," Ho-Sang said. "By the second I think I got it. There are some great defensemen in this organization and for me, the better players I play against, the better I play."
The highlight of this week for Dal Colle and Ho-Sang certainly was the chance to play, even a scrimmage, in front of a few thousand fans in an NHL building. Hearing those fans chanting his name was "pretty special," Ho-Sang said.
But this week represents the first steps for both. They will be back in September, but the next prospect camp is more likely where the organization will see progress.
Said Dal Colle, "The coaching staff sent the message that if you want to be a pro, you have to excel in all aspects. Work ethic is what separates you if you want to play in the NHL."
Notes & quotes: John Schiavo (Patchogue) and Tommaso Bucci (Franklin Square), both of whom played for the Junior Islanders last season, scored goals in front of the home crowd Thursday night.
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