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EXCLUSIVE: William Dufour Reflects on His First Preseason Game



New York Islanders, William Dufour, Aatu Räty

For prospect William Dufour, COVID-19 did not allow him to attend New York Islanders development camps and training camps following being drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL Draft. But this summer, the Memorial Cup MVP was able to head down to Long Island and get to work with the organization for the first time.

On Tuesday, William Dufour got to skate in his first preseason game, his first time wearing a New York Islanders jersey.

William Dufour, skating alongside Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas at even strength, registered one shot on goal, with one giveaway, two takeaways, one block, and a primary assist In a total of 14:31 minutes. He played 4:15 total minutes on the power play, lining up with Josh Bailey and Oliver Wahlstrom.

The Islanders fell to their opponents, the New Jersey Devils, by a score of 4-1.

Following the game, Dufour seemed ecstatic and in a bit of shock following his first crack against NHL-caliber players.

“I’ve waited for that for two years, two and a half years,” William Dufour said postgame. “So that’s just nice to get my first NHL game.”

“In the warmup, just realizing that you were there, playing in an NHL game and, I mean, after the first shift was beside me, it went pretty well, I think, so I’m pretty happy.”

A few days later, in an exclusive interview with NYI Hockey Now, William Dufour talked about that milestone night.

“I mean, my mom was there, so I was talking with her, with my parents. It was just nice to be able to be in the present moment,” Dufour shared. “But right now, I mean, we’re really good. We [Islanders] did some cuts yesterday [Wednesday].”

“I’m still here, so I’m just happy, and I’ll try my best to go further in the camp.”

The Islanders did cut 15 skaters on Wednesday, but as Dufour said, he is still there.

For those that do not know, William Dufour and his mother, Karine Côté have a special bond.

Back in April of 2020, Karine was diagnosed with breast cancer. It hit Dufour hard, as it would any child, and he had to balance being there for her, while also pursuing his career.

Karine had surgery to remove the cancerous mass last June, which was a success.

“I mean, since I’m young, she’s following me everywhere, and she flew Tuesday morning, and she’s still here at the hotel with me, so it’s just nice to have her by my side here.”

Dufour learned a great deal about himself following his first preseason action.

“I mean, I showed I think I can play with pros. I think I can battle with them,” Dufour said. “I’m big. I’m strong with my stick. I’m pretty good offensively. So I think that that was my big asset, and I think I proved that on Tuesday.”

Dufour also understands that there are things he has to get accustomed to, whether it be in the NHL or the AHL this season.

“The reality is, like the speed of the game. The boys are really strong on their sticks. More tough. More grit,” Dufour said. “The boys are bigger, the plays are faster, but…I think it went pretty well.”

In practice on Thursday, Dufour skated with new linemates in Arnaud Durandeau and Andy Andreoff, two players that will be with the Bridgeport Islanders this season.

“Oh, I mean, it’s Durandeau and Andreoff, probably my two teammates this year,” Dufour said. “And I mean, it’s just nice to practice with them. Like they are two good players. And I mean, we had eight pretty good lines there [during Friday’s practice], all pretty good players.”

“So I mean, first line, fourth line, doesn’t matter for me. I just want to play my game, and we’re going to see what [happens] after the game on Friday and Sunday.”