CRANBERRY TWP. — Dealing with lingering injuries can take the fun out of anything.
During his rookie season last year, Thomas Di Pauli suffered an injury in training camp and, when he returned in December, was hurt again and missed the rest of the season. He played in just 21 games and scored two goals after having high hopes as a prospect fresh out of Notre Dame.
Now, as Di Pauli enters his second training camp with Pittsburgh, he’s healthy and optimistic.
“I got healed up, had a good summer of training and now I’m focused and enjoying the sport again,” Di Pauli said.
And it shows.
Di Pauli scored two goals in the rookie tournament last week, and through the first three days of Pittsburgh’s training camp he’s been noticeably faster on the ice. Now, Di Pauli hopes to play in one of Pittsburgh’s upcoming preseason games and continue to make an impression.
Particularly on the offensive side of things, now that his speed is back.
“I didn’t have the quickness to get to loose pucks last year,” Di Pauli said. “I feel much faster and stronger, and hopefully that helps with grittiness around the net and scoring some dirty goals.”
While last season was frustrating due to the injuries, Di Pauli said he still made some positive strides on and off the ice. Dealing with injuries, he said, made him a stronger, more determined player.
Now that the injuries are healed, Di Pauli is determined to finally make an impact on the ice and maybe get into a few NHL games with Pittsburgh this season.
“One of my goals this year is to make an impact wherever I’m playing - Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh,” he said. “This summer I really focused on my habits and details, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good in my career.”