A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
By Jacob Chernok
Soundtigers.com chatted with rookie forward Joey Diamond following a brief but impactful stint with the Sound Tigers at the end of the 2012-13 season. The Long Island native talked about what it means to join the Islanders organization, his experiences at the University of Maine, his style of play and his most embarassing moment on the ice.
SoundTigers.com: What does it mean to you being signed by your hometown team, and being in the Islanders organization?
Joey Diamond: It means a lot. Obviously growing up as an Islanders fan, it’s really an honor to be a part of this organization now.
ST: Do you have any specific memories of going to Islanders games as a kid? Attend any camps with the team? Favorite player growing up?
JD: My favorite player growing up was Pat LaFontaine, and then a few years ago I was invited to the Islanders prospect camp. It was a great experience for me both on and off the ice as I learned a lot and also had a great time playing.
ST: You are not the only University of Maine product in the Islanders organization, joining GM Garth Snow, Head Coach Scott Pellerin, goalie coach Mike Dunham. Does that provide any extra comfort for you as you continue your professional career?
JD: Maybe a little bit… I’m just focused on doing my job on the ice, and trying to show the coaches the way I play.
ST: The Islanders made it back to the playoffs for the first time in six years this season. What does that mean to you?
JD: It’s pretty special, especially being a part of the organization now. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s good to see the team back in playoffs. They've had a great season.
ST: Your senior year at University of Maine you were named a tri-captain, and finished your Black Bears career with the most penalty minutes in team history. What does the honor of wearing the “C” mean to you?
JD: It means a lot, it’s such an honor to be a captain for this team and this school. There have been a lot of great names to wear the “C” here, and it feels good to be a part of a group with such great history.
ST: You’re obviously a smaller player, but your known for playing a gritty style of play. When did you develop that style?
JD: I’ve played that way ever since I was a little kid. Those people who watched me back then don’t really see any differences between my game then and now.
ST: What was the toughest part about making the jump from the college ranks to the pros?
JD: The speed of the game. The guys in the AHL are a lot faster. I’m glad I got to experience it for the final ten games of this season so I can know what to expect next year.
ST: Throughout the course of your first ten games with the team, you had the chance to play on a line with Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. What was it like playing with those guys?
JD: It was unbelievable. Those guys are obviously such talented players…it was a real honor to get the chance to play with them. I would love to play with them again next season if I had the chance, and it made my job easy playing with such great players.
ST: What was your favorite moment of the ten games you played in Bridgeport before the season ended?
JD: My first goal. It was a long time coming, and its great to get the monkey off my back going into next season so I can focus on continuing to develop as a player.
ST: Describe that first professional goal against Worcester, and the feeling that came afterwards.
JD: It was a great play by Ryan Strome. I was just driving hard to the net and he gave me a beautiful pass so I could put it into the net. It was really special for me to get that first one, especially from a great player like Ryan.
ST: Some hockey players have some pretty crazy superstitions. Do you have any?
JD: None. My superstition is not to be superstitious.
ST: What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever had on the ice?
JD: A delay of game penalty in my first game with Bridgeport was pretty embarrassing for me. I was so pumped to be playing and I wound up flipping the puck out of play. Considering how I play, it was kind of funny that my first penalty would be for a delay of game.
ST: Talk about that first AHL fight against Brandon Manning. Were you expecting it to happen the way it did?
JD: Yeah definitely. Just like my first goal I wanted to get my first fight out of the way... We were also losing it at the time so I wanted to help get the boys going, so it felt pretty good.
ST: What are some of your goals for next season? Individually, and also for the team?
JD: I am really looking forward to this summer and working out in preparation for next season. I signed a two-way contract with the Islanders, so I would love to have the chance to go up to the NHL and contribute there. For the Sound Tigers, just keep improving as a team and hopefully make the playoffs next season.