For a bunch of kids looking to make an impression, earning a comeback win was certainly a way to do it.
Mitchell Vande Sompel capped off the New York Islanders late rally on Wednesday night, scoring the OT winner in a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers rookies at Wells Fargo Center.
"Perseverance, hard work and determination," Vande Sompel said were the keys to the win. "We were down 3-1 and you looked down the bench and no one was down or anything. Everyone was moving at high energy and we believed."
The Islanders trailed 3-1 with just under five minutes to play in the third, but the rookies dug deep. Arnaud Durandeau - the Isles 2017 sixth-round pick - buried a backdoor play to make it 3-2 and fellow 2017 pick Sebastian Aho backhanded the tying goal with 1:32 to play.
In OT, goalie Mitch Gillam - who entered the game in the third period - turned aside a breakaway and a penalty shot and got some help from his post, keeping the Isles in it long enough for Vande Sompel to score the game winner.
"Each day you want to come in, do your best and work as hard as you can and show what you have," Vande Sompel said. "I'm happy we got the win, especially coming from behind."
DAL COLLE PICKS UP A PAIR OF ASSISTS:
Michael Dal Colle found his way onto the scoresheet on Wednesday, dishing out a pair of assists in the win. Dal Colle was one of the "veterans" on the rookie squad and delivered.
Dal Colle found Aho late in the game for the tying goal and set up John Stevens in the first period. The Isles top line of Dal Colle (2A), Stevens (1G) and Travis St. Denis (1A) all hit the scoresheet and created chances beyond the ones they buried. For an offensive prospect like Dal Colle, it was a successful night.
"We definitely created some chances out there," Dal Colle said. "I think our line played pretty well for the first time together offensively. I still need to work on some things defensively going into main camp."
SPECIAL NIGHT FOR STEVENS:
Win or lose, Wednesday's rookie game held some extra meaning for John Stevens.
Stevens, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders last March, is the son of former Flyers coach John Stevens, so he has close ties to Philadelphia. Stevens said his mom, grandparents and a number of friends were at the rookie game, so it was a special feeling to be able to score for them. His dad is currently the head coach of the LA Kings, so he wasn't in attendance, but was streaming the game from afar.
"It was definitely pretty special to do it in a building I grew up coming to and a building that my dad worked at for so long," Stevens said. "It was a pretty cool experience."
ON TO MAIN CAMP:
After five days of skating and one game, the Islanders rookies are off the ice on Thursday. Veterans report for physicals on Thursday and hit the ice on Friday as main camp gets underway.