EAST MEADOW, NY — When the New York Islanders hit the ice for an optional morning skate on Wednesday, 2020 fifth-round pick William Dufour was in attendance.
“It’s something amazing,” Dufour said about being up with the Islanders. “I’m just excited. And yeah, I’m just happy to be here.”
In his first season in Bridgeport, the 20-year-old forward 13 goals and 12 assists in 37 games. He has two goals and two assists in his last six games.
“I’ve had a good season so far,” Dufour said. “But I think I can be better.”
Dufour participated in the Islanders’ development and training camp this past summer, playing in a few preseason games.
He’s said he’s learned a lot under Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson.
“Junior, sometimes, if I was playing a bad game, I could finish with like two goals. It’s not the same type of thing here,” Dufour said. “I mean, if I don’t move my feet, if I don’t play physical, like, I won’t have any chances offensively.”
Islanders head coach Lane Lambert had this to say regarding Dufour and what he has seen from him.
“Oh, well, what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard is he just continues to develop and grow, as do all our young players down there. He’s a big body that shoots the puck well, so it’s a good opportunity for him.”
As for why he was recalled:
“We just feel there’s opportunities for certain guys,” Lambert said.
Dufour shared that he actually slept through the phone call from Bridgeport general manager Chris Lamoriello on Tuesday morning but called him back as soon as he woke up. His father was already coming to see him play this weekend in Bridgeport and was going to attend Wednesday night’s Islander game anyway.
His mom will be on her way when he finds out if he’s officially in the lineup.
Dufour had a mighty fine 2021-22 campaign as he put together a 56-goal, 60-assist season with the St. John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, being crowned QMJHL Player of the Year. He then went on to lead the Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup Trophy, being crowned “First Star” of the Finals as well as Memorial Cup MVP after seven goals and an assist in four games.
Then at the World Juniors, with a Canadian team, he was not a part of in December before the tournament was postponed, he left his mark with and without the puck.
Dufour ended the tournament with three goals and four assists in six games, with his last goal, the most critical one coming in the Gold Medal game. With the gold, Dufour became the 25th player to win the gold medal and the Memorial Cup in the same season.
“He’s had a lot of success, and that breeds confidence. And he’s playing well in Bridgeport,” Lambert said.
The Islanders also recalled 24-year-old defenseman Dennis Cholowski.
In his first season in the Islanders organization, the 24-year-old has 17 assists in 35 games.
Over his four-year NHL career, Cholowski has not played much, with just 115 games under his belt. He has 10 goals and 20 assists to his name in 2021-22 but was a mess defensively on a struggling Detroit Red Wings team.
Following his first three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings (103 GP), he was not protected during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft and was taken.
The Islanders signed Cholowski this offseason to a two-year, two-way deal.