Albany Devils rookie Sislo gets off to an auspicious start

It’s no surprise Albany’s Chad Wiseman and Steve Zalewski worked well together in the season’s first

It’s no surprise Albany’s Chad Wiseman and Steve Zalewski worked well together in the season’s first two games.

At least a little more unexpected, though, was the nice start to the season for their other linemate, rookie right wing Mike Sislo.

Sislo played three games with the Devils last season after finishing up his collegiate career with New Hampshire. He wasn’t bad, but he hadn’t quite caught up.

“He was real nervous last year. He looked almost uncomfortable out there,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “I saw a big difference just in July in the development camp, and then in training camp in New Jersey.”

Kowalsky called the line his best so far. That’s why it will stay intact for tonight’s game, while other lines have been shaken up.

The Devils open a three-game weekend tonight at 7 against Connecticut (which added agitator Sean Avery to its roster Tuesday) at the Times Union Center, then will travel to play Worcester Saturday night at 7 before returning home to host a 4 p.m. game Sunday against defending Calder Cup Champion Binghamton.

Sislo said his three games last season introduced him to the pro lifestyle and to his teammates and coaches. It also showed him what he had to work on over the summer.

In Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Bridgeport, he recorded his first career point by converting a penalty shot to tie the game, 2-2, in the third period.

Sislo skated behind the defensemen in the neutral zone, and Albany rookie blueliner Eric Gelinas sent a precise and hard pass through the zone and directly to his stick.

“Right when I got behind the ‘D,’ he had made a perfect pass, and it was right there,” Sislo said. “I give all the credit to him there, setting the whole play up.”

Sislo skated into the Sound Tigers’ zone and was taken down from behind by Aaron Ness, setting up a penalty shot.

Sislo skated in and to his left before firing the puck back across the goal to the top-right corner.

“It was pretty cool, the play, getting the penalty shot like that and the opportunity to tie up the game,” Sislo said. “Then to be able to score it, it was definitely a memorable experience for me. It was pretty exciting, and hopefully, there’s more to come.”

Kowalsky believes there is more to come, considering the rookie’s work ethic.

Later in the game, trailing by a goal and pressing for another equalizer, Sislo hit the crossbar, maybe an inch from making his memorable night a great night for everyone.

Talking about his linemates, who entered camp with 14 seasons of experience, Sislo talks about the chances for him to learn daily.

“They’re very smart players,” he said. “They know where to be. They’re very good, positionally, and they have great skills. Things they’ve told me, I’ve learned from, and reading off them on the ice makes it easy to play with them.”

The hope is a few more games makes him even more comfortable on the pro ice, as Kowalsky said he still sees glimmers of nervousness from the rookie. But he also is quick to note everyone needs a little time to adjust to the game at this level..

“I think the best of Mike Sislo is yet to come,” Kowalsky said. “It’s like all young kids coming into the league. Not to compare him to Adam Henrique, but it took Adam Henrique a bit of time to get used to the pace, the bigger and stronger ‘D,’ and a little less room than the college game.

“Mike, because of the type of kid he is and his work habits, it’s only a matter of time. He can really fire the puck, and I want him to get used to getting into those spots, finding those dead areas in the zone where he can get a shot off. He doesn’t need much room.”

Myles Stoesz missed the opening weekend with a lower-body injury, but skated Wednesday after practice. Kowalsky said he still is “a ways off” from returning.

Though he will to wait until later today to name a goalie for tonight’s game, Kowalsky said both Jeff Frazee and Keith Kinkaid will play this weekend.

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