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Fans enjoy meeting Islanders teammates Tavares, Moulson & Gillies

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders

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The lower bowl of the arena was full as thousands of fans sat patiently waiting for Islanders General Manager Garth Snow to appear on the jumbotron and announce the teams’ 2010 draft pick. As Snow announced Nino Niederreiter, orange and blue confetti sprinkled down on spectators standing on the Nassau Coliseum arena floor.

With lots of fun activities, fans, friends and families celebrated a successful NHL Entry Draft on the evening of Friday, June 25. In attendance were Islanders teammates John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Trevor Gillies.

Michele Burcroff of East Meadow has been an Islanders fan her entire life, so she was excited to bring her family.

"This is my family’s third Draft Party,” said Burcroff. “My son plays ice hockey and he's 11, and I love the Islanders. I bring him to this so he can experience some of that excitement.”

“I know they hold the Draft Party for the fans so you feel like you are a part of the entire experience. It’s nice because we as fans get to enjoy this moment together."

Fans that purchased tickets for the 50/50 raffle were entered into a drawing to win the new road white jersey, which made its public debut at the Draft Party. Three prizes in total, each jersey was worn by Tavares, Moulson or Gillies before being autographed and given to the winner.

Some lucky fans received autographed photos signed by the players. Other fans met and took pictures with the players while receiving a tour of the locker room.

"It's so cool to see the players so close,” Burcroff said. “Matt Moulson walked right by my seat and gave me a high-five. It's nice because the Islanders make you feel like you're a part of the whole thing, like we are one big family."

There were plenty of fun events to keep everyone entertained including Islanders obstacle courses and moon bounces, street hockey and X-box video games. Some fans even made a stop at the Trevor Gillies ‘Stache Station, where fans could purchase a fake mustache to wear around the event in the same style as Islanders tough-guy Trevor Gillies.

Nick Tedesco, a 13-year-old Holbrooke resident, came to the Draft Party with his parents and younger brothers – who were proudly sporting the Gillies ‘Staches.

“We’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve been going on the blowups and we went on the locker room tour,” Tedesko said. “We got to see all the player’s lockers, where they change and the jerseys. We even saw the infirmary where they are treated after they get hurt.”

George Schutz, of Malverne, has been a season ticket holder for the past nine years. He attended his first Draft Party last season when the Isles drafted Tavares and decided to come back again this year.

As head of the New York Islanders Booster Club, Schutz said, “We have a great time. It’s good to see that today we have so many people here even though we don’t have the first pick in the draft. It was easy last year, but this year all the fans still showed up.”

Garth Snow surely selected another great prospect in Nino Niederreiter. As a young player, he shows a lot of promise, which will be great to add to the young roster.

“Let me say, I think the coach is doing a great job with the young players,” Schutz said. “They certainly, over the last two years, never gave up. They are still playing into the last game of the year and I think that says a lot about the coaching.

“The talent is certainly there. I think they just need time playing together.”
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