Recently signed defenseman Kevin Czuczman (pronounced Church-man) arrived at Islanders Iceworks for practice Thursday morning for his first NHL practice.
Czuczman skated as the ninth defenseman in a crowded practice on the blueline. The newest Islander noted the different style of play after his first practice under head coach Jack Capuano.
“The coaches are trying to ease me into the transition from college," said Czuczman. "It’s a totally different style of hockey. It’s much more efficient. It’s not run and gun like it was in college. They are helping me with that and trying to take the next step in my career.”
Kevin Czuczman skates during a drill at his first Islanders practice.
There are other obvious differences between the professional game and the college ranks, including the length of the season – Czuczman played 36 games at LSS this year – and the facial protection, as the NCAA mandates a full-face cage.
“It’s a lot easier not wearing the cage,” Czuczman said. “It’s not much of a transition. But it’s a lot clearer out there. Going the other way is a lot harder.”
Kevin Czuczman gets ready for a drill at his first Islanders practice.
The highly-courted NCAA standout at Lake Superior State cited his relationships with Islanders scouts and offseason training partner John Tavares as one of the main reasons he signed on Long Island.
Czuczman is expected to graduate from Lake Superior State this spring with a Finance and Economics degree.
Colin McDonald and Brock Nelson pass the puck during a drill at Islanders practice.
11 Forwards: The Islanders skated with 11 forwards for the second consecutive practice. Capuano said he still hadn't determined a call-up for Friday’s game.
McDonald: Colin McDonald is currently riding a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists). McDonald deflected the praise to the strong play of his linemates – Ryan Strome and Anders Lee – but said the points have increased his confidence on the ice.
Penalty Kill: The Islanders worked exclusively on their penalty kill for about 20 minutes before practice on Thursday.
Evgeni Nabokov talks to Brian Strait, Anders Lee and Thomas Hickey during a break at practice.
Kyle Okposo skates during a drill at the Islanders practice.
Anders Nilsson makes a save during a drill at Islanders practice.
Brock Nelson looks for a deflection during a drill at Islanders practice.