📝 by Dalton Rice | AHL On The Beat
Arnaud Durandeau was in the middle of a scorching stretch in Bridgeport when the New York Islanders came calling.
The 24-year-old forward had six goals in six games following an early tally against Springfield on Feb. 18, and within a matter of 48 hours, he became the sixth Bridgeport skater to make his NHL debut this season.
“I called my whole family on FaceTime right away to tell them,” Durandeau said. “That was a special call for sure.”
Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, where the Islanders were set to face off with the Penguins on Feb. 20, multiple NHL regulars reached out to Durandeau including Jean-Gabriel Pageau, a fellow French-Canadian who texted the Montreal native offering congratulations and some words of advice.
Durandeau registered four shots on goal to go with a plus-1 in 14:09 of ice time and went on to make three more appearances before returning to Bridgeport on Mar. 2.
“My first game was great; I played a lot of minutes with (Casey) Cizikas and (Hudson) Fasching who are two great pros and I got a few chances,” Durandeau said. “I think my first stint went really well.”
Durandeau didn’t just earn the callup with one hot stretch, but rather by building his game through 151 AHL contests.
Development has been the name of Durandeau’s game, even looking back to his four years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where the 6-foot-tall speedster grew his point totals every season, reaching over a point-per-game (73 in 68 appearances) in his final season.
Durandeau turned pro for the 2019-20 season, tallying eight points in 21 games with Bridgeport and eight more in 15 games with Worcester in the ECHL. He only played 14 games in the shortened 2020-21 season and came back with 15 goals and 22 assists last year, setting his career high.
“Of course, getting more opportunities helps, especially playing with guys like Andy (Andreoff), (Chris) Terry, (William) Dufour and (Otto) Koivula who are great players,” Durandeau said. “It is my fourth year and I can feel that confidence growing.”
With 14 games remaining, Durandeau’s 15 goals this season match his total from 2021-22, and he is one assist and one point shy of last year’s highs.
“A call-up can happen whenever, so I just need to keep playing my game, getting better defensively, working on being consistent and really anything to help the team down here in Bridgeport,” he said.