The Islanders strong 2018 draft class, along with Kieffer Bellows from two years ago, pushed Michael Dal Colle, the 2014 first-round pick, to the back burner. His play to start the season however, has elevated the winger back to the forefront.
Heading into this morning’s game, Dal Colle leads the Sound Tigers with six goals and 13 points in 10 games, despite missing two contests in October due to injury. In addition, Dal Colle paces Bridgeport with five multi-point games (half of his appearances) and is tied for ninth in the AHL in both goals and points. He has five goals and three assists (eight points) in his last six games. The third-year forward finished last season with just seven goals and four multi-point games.
I had a chance to chat with Michael following Tuesday’s practice.
Lighthouse Hockey: What do you attribute this fast start to the season to?
Michael Dal Colle: I think I have a lot of chemistry early on with my two linemates. Connor Jones has been great up the middle. A great two-way player. He’s been good on faceoffs. A very reliable player. Josh (Ho-Sang) is really playing well as of late. He’s moving his feet, creating offense with every shift. We have some good chemistry. I’ve been the beneficiary of playing with two good players and getting some good bounces early on.
LH: Ho-Sang has been on fire of late, eight points in his last three games. What’s been the biggest difference in his game?
MDC: Josh has been awesome. He’s so smooth with the puck. He creates offense every single time he’s on the ice. I think with him he knows he has to clean up things defensively, it’s a two-way game and his play away from the puck. He’s definitely approved upon that. If he keeps playing the way he’s been playing he’ll definitely be back up (with the Islanders) soon.
LH: Going into last offseason, what were the biggest things you needed to work on?
MDC: Yeah it was a long offseason for me. Unfortunately not making the playoffs gave us more time in the offseason than usual. Just getting stronger, put a lot of effort in the gym. Off ice was huge, I put on muscle, lost some fat and started skating earlier than usual in the summer. It was a big offseason. Had a good main camp and that’s led on to early in the season.
"I'm down on bended knee" - Michael Dal Colle (and Boyz II Men) pic.twitter.com/IGIbX5T6Rq— Bridgeport Sound Tigers (@TheSoundTigers) November 4, 2018
LH: After a down season a year ago, did you feel like you needed to prove yourself to Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello?
MDC: To be honest, it’s no different than any other year. With new management, there are new rules and new expectations but every year for me it’s no different, you’re looking to prove something every time you’re on the ice. That didn’t change.
LH: Going into the season, did you feel like this was a make-or-break season with this organization?
MDC: I didn’t look at it like that. I knew it was a big year for me personally because it’s a contract year. Obviously you want to prove yourself. Last year wasn’t a great year for me personally. I’m looking to bounce back. I’m off to a good start. Hopefully I can keep it up.
LH: I talked with you and Brent Thompson in the past about how he feels that you need to keep your feet moving.
MDC: That’s been a big emphasis for me. I really respect him for that, pushing me everyday, he’s been great for me. He’s always on top of it and it’s definitely something I worked on in the offseason. I continue to work on my pace of play. I definitely feel that it’s risen and definitely contributes to my good start so far.
LH: You made your NHL debut last season, what was the biggest takeaway from your stint with the Islanders?
MDC: That was incredible. Obviously a goal as a kid is to make the NHL, getting a taste of that was amazing. It just make me hungrier to get there full time. That’s the goal. I’m glad that I can keep it up down here and make it up top. It’s everything I’m working for.
LH: This team has a bunch of veterans, old and new, have you picked any of their brains?
MDC: We have a great team this year. Added three or four really good veterans. They have been great for the young guys. They been around, they’ve won. A guy like Chris Bourque, he’s won three Calder Cups. When you add guys like that to the room it’s awesome. Especially for guys like me and Kieffer Bellows, just looking up to them and the way they play the game.
LH: You mentioned Kieffer, what do you like about his game?
MDC: Kieffer has been really good. He’s definitely strong on the puck, has a good release, a hard shot. For him it’s just continuing to get that shot off on in tight areas. It’s a little bit different coming from Juniors, I know well, you don’t have as much time in the slot. Obviously it’s been an adjustment for him. Sunday’s game he had two goals, two elite shots that beat the goalie. He has to continue to keep that up.
LH: Have you given him any pointers?
MDC: He’s his own guy. He doesn’t need to take pointers from me (laughs). His shot is elite. He has an NHL release and shot.
LH: I know you’re a big New England Patriots fan, think they are going go to the Super Bowl?
MDC: You know what, Kansas City is scaring me a bit, I’m not gonna lie. (Patrick) Mahomes is really slinging it this year. He’s probably going to win MVP. If KC gets home field, it will be tough to go into Arrowhead (stadium) and win. But you never bet against (Tom) Brady.