The New York Islanders top prospects were on display Wednesday night, as the team held its annual Blue & White Scrimmage in front of 6,311 at Barclays Center.
The Islanders five first rounders combined for eight points (two goals, six assists), as Team Blue defeated Team White 8-3.
Mathew Barzal (2015, 1st), Michael Dal Colle (2014, 1st), Joshua Ho-Sang (2014, 1st) and Ryan Pulock (2013, 1st) all picked up assists, with Ho-Sang notching three. Anthony Beauvillier – another 2015 first-rounder – scored twice, as Team Blue won the scrimmage 5-3 and swept the skills competition 3-0.
“It was a pretty surreal experience,” Ho-Sang said. “It was my first time [at Barclays Center] in front of the fans. It was pretty awesome. In the shootout we were just trying to show the fans a good time.”
Ho-Sang excited the crowd throughout the evening with his speed and stickhandling ability, but the loudest gasps came from Pulock’s 105 mph slap shot in the hardest shot competition.
“That’s the hardest I’ve shot on radar,” said Pulock, whose other clapper clocked in at 102.
While both teams dazzled in the shootout – Patchogue’s John Schiavo scored a brilliant lacrosse-style goal – the play of the evening belonged to Barzal, Dal Colle and Sebastian Collberg.
The first-round picks rushed into Team White’s zone, with Barzal accepting a pass from Dal Colle, spinning off a check and dishing the puck to a trailing Collberg. Collberg, a 2012 second-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, brought the crowd to its feet, beating Kevin Lankinen.
Quinnipac forward Sam Anas tied Beauvillier for a game-high with two goals, while Osto Rantakari and Miks Indrasis each posted a goal and an assist. Andong Song, the first Chinese-born player drafted to the NHL, potted an assist.
While the future Islanders got a look at their future home, Wednesday’s game signified a new era of Islanders hockey, as this group comprised the first roster of players who will only know Barclays Center, the sleek new digs on Atlantic Avenue, as home.
“It’s home now,” Pulock, who skated here for a record third time, said. “Everyone here is trying to make this home one day. It’s been fun. It’s a pretty great facility. It was good to see the support that came out today, so it’s always fun playing here.”
|Joshua Ho-Sang (right) skates during the Islanders Blue and White Scrimmage. Ho-Sang had three assists. (Getty Images) |
Pulock wasn’t the only one singing Barclays praises after the game.
“It’s unreal,” Ho-Sang said. “It’s an unbelievable building. It’s definitely a little bit of an upgrade from the old one in terms of the standings and lightning.”
“It’s amazing,” Dal Colle said. “It’s a very unique building and it was a great turnout tonight and definitely a fun atmosphere. It feels like the crowd is right on top of you.”
The fans brought over some of the old comforts of home. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” rang after every goal, refs were booed and some new chants – namely Ho-Sang’s name to the tune of Olay! – spontaneously arose.
With the marquee event of the week and all the crowds and glitz in the rearview, the prospects now shift their focus back to training hard for a smaller audience. It’s back to Long Island, to practice under the watch of Islanders coaches and management.