Excitement and passion radiated off the Islanders fans who lined the gates at Adventureland in Farmingdale as early as 6:45 a.m.Sunday morning.
Fans relished the sunny October morning to meet their favorite players at the Fifth Annual Islanders Children’s Foundation Day at Adventureland. The positive energy was due in part to the upcoming season, which starts Friday, but also due to slew of new players making their Adventureland debuts.
“You can tell there’s so much excitement in the air, especially with the moves that were made yesterday,” Community Relations Manager Ann Rina said. “You can just tell the fans are really excited to see the players and to start the season. The guys have been great signing autographs. It’s just nice to start the season.”
The two newest Islanders, veteran defensemen Johnny Boychuk and and Nick Leddy, couldn’t make the early start time, as they were en route to Long Island. Still, fans had their chance to mingle with offseason additions including Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin and Cory Conacher.
Conacher, paired at a table with Anders Lee, enjoyed interacting with fans for the first time on Long Island and felt welcomed with a long line awaiting autographs.
It's very cool for the fans to take the time on a Sunday and come out to support the team out here at Adventureland. - Cory Conacher
“It's awesome,” said Conacher. “I appreciate it as much as they appreciate us being here. It's very cool for them to take the time on a Sunday and come out to support the team out here at Adventureland.”
Islanders captain John Tavares said the outing at Adventureland unofficially marks the start of the new season and gives the players the opportunity to thank their loyal fans base.
“It’s a new year, new season, and a beautiful time of the year to still be outside,” he said. “People have enjoyed coming here for years. For players, it's always nice to be able to come and interact with the people who come and support us each and every night.”
Stationed near the front of the park, a long line instantly formed in front of Tavares. Lisa Povinilli spent most of the morning waiting in the line after missing the captain at the event last year. The Mineola resident hoped to meet all the new players, but was intent on getting a signature from Tavares.
“It's fun, I've been here for multiple years, so I just love coming and seeing the players every year and getting their signatures, Povinilli said. ”
Ken Welliver and Miranda Duffy made a two-hour drive from New Windsor, NY, and said meeting the Islanders one-on-one really makes the fans feel special. Welliver expects a lot from the team in the upcoming season with the new additions.
“We’ve had season tickets for the last three years,” Welliver said. "It’s something we do with our families. Hopefully they can bring back the dynasty with all of the good pickups.”
The 2014–15 season starts Friday night on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes, and Islanders fans believe the team is playoff bound and ready to surprise opponents. The chance to meet the players up close only added to the anticipation. Expect the Coliseum to be rocking at the home opener on Saturday, Oct. 11, when the Isles wrap-up the home-and-home against the Hurricanes.