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Islanders’ William Dufour benched in NHL debut after mistakes

Wednesday started with excitement for William Dufour. It ended in disappointment, as Dufour made his NHL debut for the Islanders, but didn’t see the ice after the 11:00 mark of the second period, playing just eight shifts in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins.

The benching came after Dufour committed turnovers leading to each of Boston’s first two goals. That was, to some degree, the risk the Islanders took in letting the 20-year-old make his debut against the best team in the league — and they ended up paying for it.

“I liked his first period,” coach Lane Lambert said. “I liked some of the things he did. He’s a big body. Again he went to the net hard. He’ll continue to learn and grow from that. That’s what that’s about from that standpoint. In his development, he’ll be fine.”

Whether Dufour, who drew in for Simon Holmstrom, will stay in the lineup on Thursday in Buffalo is an open question. The thought in calling him up was that the big-bodied forward could add a needed spark to the offense. At least on Wednesday, that didn’t happen, as Dufour finished with just 6:48 total ice time.

William Dufour #14 of the New York Islanders skates in his first NHL game against the Boston Bruins at UBS Arena on January 18, 2023.
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Last season, in the Quebec Major Junior League, Dufour scored 56 goals with 60 assists for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Over 37 games with AHL Bridgeport this season, he had 13 goals with 12 assists.

He started Wednesday on the top line, with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey, but before long, Anthony Beauvillier was playing in that spot instead.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Dufour said following morning skate.

It might now be more like a dream delayed.

The Islanders called up defenseman Dennis Cholowski alongside Dufour. Cholowski drew in for Parker Wotherspoon in his debut with the Islanders as they looked for a more offensive solution on the blueline. He skated for 13:58 in the loss.

“I thought he moved the puck pretty well and I thought he skated well,” Lambert said. “He made some good plays, he did what we brought him in and asked him to do.”

A first-round pick of the Red Wings in 2016, Cholowski signed a two-way deal with the Islanders last summer after stints with the Capitals and Kraken in 2021-22. Over 35 games with AHL Bridgeport, Cholowski had 17 assists without a goal.

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