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Sean Bentivoglio will get his chance to prove himself at the Islanders' prospect camp in June

by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders
Sean Bentivoglio,
the Islanders' latest addition, grew up in Thorold, Ontario, just a few miles from Niagara Falls. Like many Ontarians, Sean's family raised him a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

By age seven, Bentivoglio began going to free skates and eventually went to hockey school in his hometown. His skills quickly developed and hockey became a serious consideration for life after high school. It was at the end of high school that Bentivoglio had a difficult choice to make.

"At this time lots of guys were leaving Canada to play hockey," Bentivoglio said Monday evening. "Instead of going to the OHL, I decided to go the U.S. college route. It gave me a good chance to pursue my hockey career, but also have my degree to fall back on if that didn't pan out."

Bentivoglio chose up-and-coming Niagara University just across the Canadian-US border because of the closeness to his home. While the school's conference – the Central Hockey Association – isn't considered one of the nation's powerhouses, it has gained more respect over the past few years now that it's earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In his freshman year at Niagara in 2003-04, Bentivoglio and his Purple Eagles earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament before losing in the opening round to Boston College.

"That was only the second time in school history we went to the NCAAs," said Bentivoglio, who played every game as a freshman. "It was a great experience and something I will always remember."

While Bentivoglio was set to finish his degree in Accounting in 2006-07, he went into the season with another goal on his mind – to reach the next level of hockey. With this motivation Bentivoglio went to work his senior year striving to reach personal and team highs, which he accomplished. He tied his college career high in goals (16) and set new highs in assists (30) and points (46). His senior year performance earned him CHA Player of the Year honors and a tryout with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. In 13 playoff games with the Bruins, Bentivoglio produced three goals and six assists after getting 14 points in 15 regular season games.

"The toughest transition from the amateur to the pro level is your time with the puck," said Bentivoglio. "In college I had more time with the puck, but in the AHL you have to make quicker decisions."

It was in Providence that Islanders scouts saw something in Bentivoglio that piqued their interest. The Islanders signed him on Sunday night.

Now with a chance to prove himself at the pro level, Bentivoglio is going into June's Islanders prospect development camp with a sense of excitement.

"I'm thrilled with this opportunity," said Bentivoglio. "This is something I've grown up thinking about. I don't know if it's sunk in yet. I just want to go into the camp in the best shape of my life and make a good impression to the coaches and management."

Bentivoglio has proven he can perform at the college level and come June, will get his shot to prove he can do the same at the pro level.

Getting to Know...Sean Bentivoglio

NHL team growing up: Toronto
NHL player growing up: Doug Gilmour
Favorite Sport (other than hockey): Soccer
Brand of Skates: Graf
Brand of Hockey Stick: Easton/Reebok
Former Islander: Mike Bossy
Nickname: Benti
Like the Shootout? Yes
Alternate Profession: Accounting
Thinks the NHL should send players to the Olympics? Yes
Best thing about playing college hockey: All around experience, play with the same guys for four years, meeting new people, traveling
If you could have dinner with two people, who would they be? Doug Gilmour and Wayne Gretzky
What event in history would you like to have been a part of? Canada beating Russia in the 1972 Summit Series



On Bentivoglio
"Sean plays a very determined game. He doesn't take a shift off. Sean is a skilled guy with good vision. He's a good playmaker who creates chances. It was positive to see that he carried over his solid play from the regular season into the AHL playoffs. Despite being small in stature he was able to handle himself in a very physical series against Hartford and contributed on the scoresheet."
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