William Dufour was still struggling to comprehend what had happened in the last 24 hours. But one thing was clear to him: he was getting even closer to his dream of becoming an NHL regular.
• Also read: William Dufour realizes his New York dream
The fact that he had played his first game in the NHL the day before seemed a bit abstract to the Quebec-born ice hockey player at the end of the line on Thursday afternoon.
“Yesterday it seemed like it passed in the blink of an eye. In the morning there was training, then a nap, then the game. It was just incredible and you notice it a bit more afterwards. I played a game in the NHL! Of all hockey players, not many do. It’s still something big,” he said, still on cloud nine.
The Isles’ pick for 2020’s fifth round admittedly got off to a humble start in the big league. After starting the game on the right side of the front row, that of star center Mathew Barzal, he was benched for the second half of the game after committing a turnover that allowed the Boston Bruins to score to achieve.
He ended up ending his first night in the NHL by a -2 margin in 6 min 48 s of play.
But Dufour only drew positive things from it. For him, it was another step in his education that would one day lead him to a full-time position at the Bettman Circuit.
“For me it’s a process. I think I had one of my best first spells in the pros. We had chances and played everywhere. Then I realized something. We played against the best team in the league and when you make turnovers against them they are so good that you have to pay for it. »
Not only the 20-year-old winger drew a positive balance from this first encounter despite the limited use.
“When I spoke [au directeur-général des Islanders] Lou Lamoriello had nothing negative to say after the game. He told me that they put me in a difficult position. The Islanders aren’t playing their best hockey right now, and we played the best team in the league. He was happy with my match and only saw positives. »
Things to work on
This brief taste also allowed Dufour to see where he stood against the best players in the world and most importantly confirmed what he needs to work on further.
“For me it’s consistency and my game on the edge of the boards. Offensively everyone knows that I can score and produce goals. On the other hand, I need to keep improving my off-puck game and I’m working on that a lot with my coach in Bridgeport. [Brent Thompson]. What’s encouraging is that these are things that improve and are practiced, unlike, for example, a sense of hockey. »
The support of the Quebecers
If he claims to have been very well received in the Islanders locker room, Dufour could count on the support of the other two Quebecers in their lineup: Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier. The latter were of invaluable help to Dufour in the hours leading up to this great evening.
“You really helped me. It’s even Beauvi [Anthony Beauvillier] who taught me how to play. We had just warmed up and I hadn’t seen the trios yet. I passed him in the hallway and he just said to me: “Aweille le gros pour à soir. Enjoy!”. »
That was also the most important piece of advice from his two compatriots yesterday: use it.
“The boys all told me the same thing: you will play more games in the National League but you never forget your first so you have to make the best of it. »
Also, some information circulated that he would have returned to the American Hockey League, but at the time of writing, the islanders had not made any announcement on the matter.