UNIONDALE, N.Y — It was the moment Islander fans had been waiting for since the team drafted Micahel Dal Colle fifth overall in 2014. It had been the moment Dal Colle had dreamed of since he was a little kid.
It was a smart play by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield to throw the puck towards the net with Dal Colle skated by the front. The shot had been timed perfectly for Dal Colle to redirect the shot past New Jersey Devils starter Mackenzie Blackwood for his first career NHL goal.
“I can’t describe it,” Dal Colle said about the emotions he felt when the puck went into the net on Thursday night. “I’ve envisioned it for so long ever since I started playing when I was four. All the work I put in. All the sacrifices my family has made for me to be able to play this game, I think it’s just a special moment for my family.”
It surely meant a lot for Dal Colle and his family, which has had to endure a lot away from the game of hockey. Dal Colle’s mother, Wendy, battled breast cancer when he was growing up.
Dal Colle’s older brother, Jonluca, also has autism.
During a 2015 interview with NHL.com Dal Colle spoke about how much his family means to him. And how his drive to succeed in the NHL comes from the people who have supported him along the way.
“They drive me every day,” He said in 2015. “Obviously I have a brother who’s always watched me play. Everything in life, I do for him. My mom, she’s been through a lot as well. She’s given me everything. I owe it all to friends and family.”
What made Thursday’s moment that much sweeter has been the performance of Dal Colle during this recent stint with the Islanders. While Dal Colle hasn’t exploded onto the scoresheet, he has never looked out of place and has been playing with a consistent effort night in and night out.
It has made it hard for Islanders head coach Barry Trotz to take him out of the lineup.
Dal Colle has had to deal with the expectations that come with being drafted top five in the NHL, and at times he hasn’t lived up to them. He’s bounced between the NHL and AHL, and he’s faced his fair share of criticism.
However, the Islanders youngster has seemed to turn a corner this year in an astonishing way. Even before the Islanders recalled him twice this season, Dal Colle was already having a strong season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL.
He had 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists) through 28 games.
“Ever since I’ve been drafted it’s been a roller coaster ride for me,” Dal Colle said Thursday. “Last year was a bit of a down year. I had a big offseason and I think I got off to a good start in Bridgeport this year. It’s carried on and hopefully, it can continue.”