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Celebrating Long Island Hockey Dads

Read stories from local hockey dads in honor of Father's Day

by New York Islanders Community Relations @NYIslanders /

In honor of Father's Day, wanted to hear about inspiring hockey dads in the community. Your story could win him an Isles prize as part of our our Hockey Dads Program presented by CardWorks Acquiring. Share your story here

Thomas Lanning

My dad, always grumpy bringing me to early morning hockey practices, would stay and watch because he loves the sport. He loves the roughness and the joy that the team has. He's always our biggest supporter and from watching the Islanders and my team, he has decided to join a dek hockey league with other dads. In the middle of his season, he had covid and pneumonia at the same time and had to go to the hospital for a whole week and missed Thanksgiving with my family. It was scary, but my dad was okay and strong and beat covid. 

He came back for his team's final game, and even though they lost, I was always there for him like was for me. After his season ended, he continued to come to all my games and practices and was even an assistant coach for my last game. During my season and after, my dad and I went to many Islanders games: Oct 2nd, Oct 9, Dec 16, Jan 27, Jan 30, March 5, March 19, March 20, April 12, and the last game we went to together was April 24th.

My dad is a huge Casey Cizikas and Ilya Sorokin fan. We met Sorokin outside UBS Arena at the April 24th game and my dad was so excited. My dad and I are MAJOR islander fans and finally, YES YES YES!

Nominated by Jake Lanning

Chris Cotroneo

Who puts aside their birthday gift opportunities, or a buying a new pair of sneakers, because the backyard rink needs to be built. Who then levels it, squeegees it, shovels it, plays goalie with the oldest ratty equipment so they can have FUN. 

Who coaches since we started dating (a looong time ago) because he just loved seeing players progress, and then was smitten to find out I signed our first daughter up for learn to skate. Who has embraced everything about the NWHL (now PHF) and everything about coaching every type of kid with the goal of learning about life, teamwork, and integrity. Who has taught our kids why being an Islanders fan (from his childhood till today) is because of the incredible camaraderie, ownership of one's actions, sacrifice, and love of "we not me." 

Who bought a skate sharpener as his father's day gift (oy, last time I let him pick out his gift). Who always says, "I love watching you play" as one of maybe two sentences after any game win or lose because it is not about the score. Who plays adult hockey against former kids he has coached who still look at him with adoration and sheepishly say, "hi coach!" even at the face-off. 

Who looks forward to winter evenings curled up with his two daughters watching the Islanders play? Who wants nothing more for his own daughters and every kid he has coached, to instill a love of hockey and a love of the bonds and ethos learned from this sport? Who spends countless hours after work thinking of new practices and how to engage all the personalities on the team? Who stands up for his two hockey playing daughters, not to protect them from the slings and arrows of life, but as a model for all to see that they should be treated with the same dignity as any other hockey player. Who has earned a fantastic reputation as a fair coach, honest board president, and genuinely caring and listening dad? Who is this hockey dad? Chris Cotroneo. He has lived up to one hell of a high standard for parenting and coaching, and I could not be more proud to be at his side on this hockey parenting ride.

Nominated by Colleen Sheehy

Barry Richter

My father Barry has been instrumental in my growth from a young boy into the father I am now. When I was nine years old, my parents went through a tough divorce. I was living in Brooklyn with my mother, while my father was living on Long Island close to the business he was running. My father wanted to absolutely make sure we had busy weekends of bonding together. At that stage of my life, I was beginning to fall in love with the game of hockey. I started to play roller hockey in Brooklyn, which was not very popular at the time. I said to my father in the early 90s "Dad I want to go to a pro hockey game!" to which he asked me "Do you want to go to a Ranger game, or to an Islander game?" My answer was "whatever is closer to you so the drive to the game isn't long." 

The answer was clear, we were going to a NEW YORK ISLANDERS GAME! Well, what was an amazing night at Nassau Coliseum, watching the Islanders battle the San Jose Sharks, began a true love affair for my father and I with the Islanders. That one game turned into several years of season tickets, to countless games together and bonding. My father would work during the day on Long Island, drive to Brooklyn, pick me up, drive BACK to the Coliseum for the game, and then drive me back to Brooklyn, for him to then drive back to Long Island to sleep. We loved spending time together and loved watching our Islanders, even during a tumultuous time for the franchise. 

We waited for autographs at the old barn after games in the player's parking lot, we attended the season ticket events and more. Now I am a father of two myself, and to have the experience to go to the UBS Arena with my son, a diehard Islanders fan at 9, and my father this past year was a moment I will never forget. 

My father as a hockey dad was amazing. I'd be with him on the weekends and if I had a roller hockey game, he would get me fully dressed in my equipment & uniform on Long Island with skates on, and drive me back to Brooklyn to play the game, then back to Long Island if we had an Islanders game to go to. Many of the fondest moments I have with the Islanders are because of my father's dedication to me and to us loving the Islanders together. 

We have countless stories of attending the games, getting sticks, pucks, autographs etc. I am forever a NY Islanders fan due to my father. Thank you for the opportunity to recognize my father, the love for hockey he has, and the love and bonding we still share to this day for the New York Islanders.

Nominated by Brett Richter

Peter Shannon

My father and my siblings all bonded over sports. When we were growing up I think I took it for granted that he somehow coached every season, for any sport we played, while still supporting me and my two little brothers. Once we grew up and moved off the Island to North Carolina and stopped playing hockey, football and basketball, we still bonded over our shared love of our teams, especially our New York Islanders. Every Christmas, even on the ones when money was tight, all we'd ask for were tickets to the closest Islander game so we could go as a family. 

My father, Peter, unfortunately passed this February, and looking back on it some of my memories with him are surround the New York Islanders. It's a constant reminder of how it's so much more than a game. My hope is that all the sons and daughters cherish watching those games with their Dad, take tons of pictures, and thank them not only on Father's Day but every day. 

Nominated by Chris Shannon

Brad Sajeski 

Our Dad story will be a bit different. My husband's name is Brad and he is a die-hard Islanders fan. When we found out we were expecting in 2019, Brad was so excited, but when we found out it was a boy - it was a dream come true. Prior to birth he started teaching our soon to be son the "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant through my pregnant belly. While I was in labor, December 14th 2019, guess what we watched from the delivery room - the Islanders game. 

During Brady's first few months we watched hockey until the pandemic. He had a knitted Islanders hat and little knitted skates. By the time Brady turned one he knew "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and a few of the players. His first skating session was at family skate day and Brady has frequented the arena and a few games. Being only two and half, Brad hasn't had the opportunity to really showcase his support by taking him to practices and games, but winning this could really set an impression on both Brad and Brady and enrich their bond and love for hockey and one another. I know Brad will do everything he can for our little lefty hockey lover to be a star on the ice and this would get it off to the start of a lifetime and who knows… maybe one day, we'll see Brady playing out there. 

Nominated by Brigitte Sajeski

Ron Middleton

My father Ron is an original Islanders season ticket holder from 1972 through the early 90s. A Navy veteran in Vietnam, he became a physical education teacher at Unqua Elementary school in Massapequa, and quickly began organizing annual field trips to Isles games for sixth graders. When I was born, he quickly got me hooked on hockey and started bringing me to Islanders games. He supported me as I grew up playing dek hockey and roller hockey and I even helped him coach my little brother and some of his students at the Islanders Street hockey tournament in the Coliseum parking lot, which we won! Nowadays, we still attend at least one Islander game per year together, and he is now my son's biggest fan as he learns to play dek hockey too.

Nominated by Ron Middleton

Michael Lukin

I want to nominate my father in law, Michael Lukin who is the best "Hockey Zaidy" (grandfather in Yiddish). My sons and nephew play in the PAL league in West Hempstead and he never misses a game. Whether it's cold or hot - and every temperature in between - he has to be there to cheer them on. I travel a lot for work and my kids cherish all the support they have at games from him. I do not think there is anyone else in Nassau County with the love and devotion that he has for his grandchildren. 

Nominated by Yehoshua Auman

Bill Fitzpatrick

My name is Elizabeth, I've been a goalie for over six years. My dad wakes up on the weekends for my early morning games, then we always go out for egg sandwiches. He likes to practice with me in our driveway, but best of all he takes the whole family to cheer on our favorite team, the Islanders! My dad is a huge Islanders fan, and he is my biggest fan too. I am really his biggest fan for everything he does for our family. 

Nominated by Elizabeth Fitzpatrick

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