For most developing hockey players that have been drafted by an NHL team, the summer mini-camp is the place for them to show the powers that be – that they are improving and are worthy of the opportunity to grow and develop to be an eventual participant in the National Hockey League. For 21 year old Stephon Williams, despite the fact of being drafted in the 2013 draft (4th round, 106th overall), this is his maiden voyage at camp.
“I had hip surgery in the summer last year, so I did not get the chance to experience this”, said Williams after his practice session at the Nassau Coliseum. “This is a great chance to feel a part of the organization, get to meet the guys and the coaching staff. So it is a great couple of days so far, and I am looking forward to the game (Blue-White Game on Thursday night) and the rest of the week.”
Williams, in his second year at the Minnesota State University, his play according to him, “wasn’t as good as I wanted, but was definitely a learning experience.” After a strong season where he was a First Team WCHA goaltender as a freshman, Williams only played 12 games last season with a 5-6-0 record with a GAG of 3.23 and a save percentage of 86.2. “Not every year will be what you wanted, but I am learning it and trying to handle it like a pro.”
Williams, moving on from his tough season in college, has really enjoyed the experience of his first NHL camp. “It’s been awesome. Getting to meet new players, especially from all over the world (Sweden and Japan among the other countries represented). Everyone is working hard. It has been a real good time so far.”
Williams is also looking forward to getting a chance to play a game on the Coliseum Ice. He is taking in all of the history of this building, as next season, the move will be made to Brooklyn for next year’s camp.
The 21 year old native of Fairbanks, Alaska, is working hard throughout the summer, with his plans to continue his off-season training at the Mankato, MN campus. “We want to get out of the first round of the playoffs (Minnesota State lost 2-1 to U-Mass Lowell)”, said Williams. “We have goals for ourselves, and we want to get past that first round. We are going to work hard on and off the ice to improve ourselves.”
Working hard, for Stephon, however has its price to pay. Being an Alaskan, he is missing his fishing excursions with his father. Although he lives in the land of “10,000 lakes”, and will get the opportunity to dabble a little, there is nothing like fishing in the 49th state. However, Williams is a true professional that wants to do whatever he can, in order to succeed moving forward.
Watching his determination on the ice yesterday, I believe that he will get the opportunity to do so.
Tomorrow, the Isles will play in their annual BLUE/WHITE game at the Coliseum. Isles Talk will comment on the game on Friday. Hope to see you there…
Other thoughts: Got the opportunity to see Josh Ho-Sang work with the coaches and players yesterday. His stick wielding skills are “Tavares-like”, and you can see his vision as he is coming up the ice is not like most average players. Defensively, this team is quite strong in the future with Reinhart, Pulock among others getting ready to move up to the next level. The Islanders also brought an 18 year old from Japan (Yuri Terao), a rare Japanese invite to a NHL Camp, the 5’9″ 158lb Terao scored 11 points in 5 games in the World Under 18 tournament, and was voted an All-Star in said tournament.