Five goals earns Dal Colle AHL Player of the Week
BRIDGEPORT — The AHL’s Player of the Week put together, in fact, one heck of a week in 26 hours.
Michael Dal Colle scored five goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on five shots this weekend, the last of them after he came a fraction of an inch from taking a stick squarely in the left eye.
He was set for the second-period faceoff Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena against Springfield’s Paul Thompson. Thompson’s stick came up and caught him on the eyelid.
“It happened so quick, and I knew I was leaking quite a bit, but I could see,” Dal Colle said Tuesday before Bridgeport set out on a three-game road trip before the Christmas break.
“I knew I didn’t lose vision, so I thought it was 100-percent fine there. It was so close to my actual eyeball, it was a little bit dangerous, but it’s fine. I got checked out by the doctor yesterday.”
Dal Colle missed Sunday’s home game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Sound Tigers’ opponent again Wednesday before they visit first-place Charlotte, after the injury swelled up around the five stitches he took early in the second period.
“I woke up in the morning, and it was swollen shut. I couldn’t even see,” Dal Colle said. “That was the only reason (to sit out), just precautionary.”
Dal Colle said the swelling came down Monday. He took full part in Tuesday’s practice.
It was about all that slowed Dal Colle down this weekend. He scored his fifth goal late in the second period after coming back; it put the Sound Tigers ahead for good.
He had a hat trick Friday night in Providence, completing it in overtime. And he’d scored the first goal Saturday. He’s up to 14 goals.
“I just think his effort and the passion in the game itself, he looks like he’s having fun,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said.
“When you work as hard as he’s been — he’s been working extremely hard — you’re eventually going to get rewarded. He’s not just working every now and again, he’s working every time he’s on the ice. He’s working in practice. He’s doing more in the gym. He’s a third-year pro, and he’s maturing. You can see it right before our eyes.”
Dal Colle became the first Sound Tiger in nearly two years to be named Player of the Week.
Both of his Saturday goals were set up by linemate Tanner Fritz, who left that game in the third period with a lower-body injury and also sat out Sunday. Fritz will make the trip, Brent Thompson said. Defenseman Seth Helgeson also practiced Tuesday after blocking a shot Saturday and missing Sunday’s game.
On Tuesday, Dal Colle remained with Otto Koivula, who has been his centerman for almost four weeks now.
“Otto’s been playing really well, adjusting well to the NA game. We’ve really played well offensively, and obviously with Josh (Ho-Sang) until he got called up. (to the New York Islanders).
“I’m playing with good offensive players. And the less time you sped in the D-zone, the more you spend in their zone.”
Bridgeport will be without veteran centerman Stephen Gionta all week, suspended three games for an unpenalized hit that sent both him and the Penguins’ Thomas Di Pauli into the boards on Sunday.
The Sound Tigers have a point in their past 14 home games, but they’ll be away for nine of the next 10, beginning with these three games.
“It sets the tone going into the break. It’s big. Like Tommer (Brent Thompson) said, we really want to keep this thing rolling,” Dal Colle said. “Six points on the line, with the best team in the conference for four of those points: It’s going to be a big test for us.”
“If we get on a roll going into the break, it’s going to be a good end to the year.”
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