The Islanders Team Store Grand Opening at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa on Wednesday evening had the feel of a celebration. Rick DiPietro
signed hundreds of autographs and government officials took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. But the night belonged to the fans, who now have one more great location to purchase Islanders memorabilia and apparel.
"There was a lot of excitement tonight and a great turnout," said Islanders Director of Retail Operations Terry Goldstein. "This is what we envisioned. The Team Store brings an exciting, new venue to Islanders fans."
The main attraction was undoubtedly DiPietro, who signed literally hundreds of autographs.
"I think it's a beautiful store," said DiPietro. "We had a great turnout tonight. We always appreciate all the support we get from the fans, particularly in this area. Every time we have a signing or an appearance, the dedication of the fans is amazing. They live and die with our team. Having a chance to sit back and watch a lot of games, it means a lot when someone comes up to you and says they really want to see you back on the ice. I really appreciate everything they do for us. I look forward to coming back."
The dedication of Islanders fans cannot be questioned. The McCorry family drove from the suburbs of Detroit to meet the All-Star netminder. A Long Island native, Kevin McCorry and his three sons Matt, Chris and Trevor left on Tuesday to arrive on time.
"I was born and raised on Long Island and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Rick DiPietro
in person," said Kevin.
But it was Kathy and Sarah from Merrick, who had the distinction of being the first two on line to meet DiPietro. The mother and daughter arrived at the Sunrise Mall at 10:30 am––seven and a half hours before DiPietro's appearance. But it was worth the wait, when the pair had their one-on-one greeting with DP.
"It was nice to be first in line to see Ricky," said Kathy. "I heard he used to ride horses near where we used to go horseback riding, so I had the chance to ask him if that was true. It was great meeting him."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the Islanders Team Store featured New York State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino.
"Having the Islanders part of the Sunrise Mall and the Greater Massapequa Area is a wonderful thing," said Saladino "We have so many hockey fans who live here. They want a place to get jerseys and memorabilia for the holidays and all year round. Coming down to the Sunrise Mall, we met with a plethora of fans, so excited to be part of this opening. I'm personally an Islanders fan and a college hockey player and I wore Bobby Nystrom's number all through my college years. So it means a lot from a personal standpoint, but more importantly to see the thrilled faces of the children who were up close to their favorite Islander."
Two young girls in particular caught the eye of DiPietro, who after getting their autographs, broke out into cheer for the netminder. They received a round of applause from DiPietro.
"That dance routine was great," said DiPietro. "I always hear about the cheers in the stands, but it was good to actually see one firsthand. Hopefully it catches on."
The Islanders Team Store at the Sunrise Mall is the perfect place to shop for the Islanders fans in your family. Featuring a Rick DiPietro
section, with input from the goaltender himself, there is something for everyone at the Team Store. A "DP" New Era hat with assistance from DiPietro is also in the works.
"It's exciting to be part of the process," said DiPietro. "Terry came to me with the idea of doing this. I'm completely on board. This was a good way to design some stuff and give the fans an opportunity to buy things that I would wear."
If you can’t make it to the new team store, remember that the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville has a complete selection of merchandise as well. And during the holiday season, be sure to check out the Islanders Kiosk at Roosevelt Field Mall for ticket packages, jerseys and Islanders DVDs. Continue to check newyorkislanders.com for future player appearances at the Islanders Team Stores. Watch
the newest edition of the NYI Show on IslandersTV.