“Hockey season is back… finally.”
Griffin Reinhart summed it up as the Islanders rookie camp opened Friday morning at Nassau Coliseum. The summer workouts are over, as Reinhart, the fourth-overall pick in 2012, and 24 other prospects reported for the week-long camp with a chance to strut their stuff for the Islanders coaches and management.
“It’s a lot different skating with your buddies back home instead of coming back here and practicing,” Reinhart said. “Everybody is battling for a spot. It’s a little bit more physical and there’s more of an edge to the game.”
The competition at this year’s camp is stiff, as the Islanders system is the deepest it has been in years. A fifth of the invitees are first-round picks (Ryan Strome (2011), Reinhart (2012), Ryan Pulock (2013), Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang (2014)) and all in camp have hopes of making the Islanders roster.
Reinhart, Strome and Pulock have outgrown their junior eligibility and will play professionally next season, either in Bridgeport or on Long Island, while Dal Colle and Ho-Sang still retain OHL eligibility.
“I know it would be incredibly difficult to stay, but you know, I’m coming in with the mentality to push myself and at least make the decision to send me back to junior really hard,” Ho-Sang said. “[I want to] show them that if I’m not ready now, I’m making the progression and the steps to be ready in the next couple years.”
The ice is down and the smell of hockey is in the air. Hockey season is finally back.
NEWS, NOTES AND QUOTES
Ryan Strome: “After playing a year of pro, you realize what you need to do to be ready. You have to take care of your body more. It’s a long season and last year I really felt it at the end of the year. I was getting pretty tired. This summer I was trying to train for that and I feel like I got a lot bigger and stronger and I feel pretty good. The coaching staff and fitness guys seem to be happy with me.”
On what he has to do to make the team: “I just need to come to play in whatever role I’m put in I need to do my job and show that I’m versatile. If I just play the way I finished the year off last year – take another step or two from there – I’ll be in good shape. Obviously it’s a new year, but I think I finished the right way and had a good summer and just take the next step.”
On the competition: “This team is in a position where we need to win and they’re going to put the best guys on the ice, no matter who you are or what your contract is or what round you were drafted in. It’s going to be exciting and I think competition is a good thing.”
Michael Dal Colle: “There’s some expectations on me, and you know, I want to be a big part of this team in the future and make a good impression, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Islanders TV: Michael Dal Colle
On what he was working on during the offseason: “For me, it was just get physically stronger. That was the biggest for me and my job here, just continue to get bigger, stronger, quicker on my feet, you know, those are the points of emphasis for me in the offseason.”
On rooming with Ryan Strome: “I roomed with him in the summer, and I room with him now, you know learning from a guy like that, what he’s been through, playing for Bridgeport, having a great year last year, getting called up to the Islanders. He has some NHL experience and to learn from a guy like that, another high pick… he’s a role model for me. I kind look up to him.”
Griffin Reinhart: “It’s a bit different feeling knowing there is no chance of going back to junior, but I am preparing the same way. My goal last year was to make this team and it didn’t happen and my goal this year is to make the team as well. I’m coming in with one goal, and if that doesn’t work then I’m going to try to work my way back up here.”
Islanders TV: Griffin Reinhart
On what he needs to show the coaches: “I want to show them I can play here, not just fit in, but make an impact. I want to show them I can play at the pro level in the NHL first and [I’m going to} work really hard in practices to show them that I want to be here. I plan on doing the drills right, not taking any shortcuts and just doing things the right way.”
Ryan Strome was asked about the NHL’s recent decision to disallow spin-o-ramas in the shootout. The Islanders prospect holds the distinction of being the last NHL player to score on a spin-o-rama.
“Obviously no spin-o-rama, so that was a one-and-done for me,” he said.
It was the Strome that broke the camel’s back.