In the midst of a hot, muggy week on Long Island, the ice-cold confines at Northwell Health Ice Center provided an oasis for New York Islanders fans.
A capacity crowd packed the Islanders’ practice facility to watch the Isles of tomorrow in the team’s annual Blue and White Scrimmage.
“It’s overwhelming when people are cheering for you and they show that love and support consistently,” Joshua Ho-Sang said. “People are banging on the glass, the Yes! Yes! Yes! chant, getting a minor version of that is definitely super exciting and helps me look forward to the future.”
The prospect pool split into three teams, facing of in a trio of four-on-four contests lasting 20 minutes each. The extra ice and young legs made for a fast-paced night of hockey with Team Blue & White winning the round-robin tourney going 2-0.
“I think our team had a little more fun,” Ho-Sang said. “We won both games. It was nice, we scored some goals, had some big plays and our goalie is real good.”
Joshua Ho-Sang had a goal and two assists for Team Blue & White, helping teammate Jimmy Schuldt complete a hat-trick in the final game, dishing instead of claiming the empty-netter.
Ilya Sorokin, the KHL goalie of the year, earned a shutout in the first game of the night, finishing 2-0 alongside Ho-Sang and the rest of Team Blue & White.
Team White placed second, going 1-1, while Team Blue was the lone winless squad. Loic Leduc had a pair of assists in the win while goaltender and Long Island native Steve Mundinger found the scoresheet, taking credit for an empty-net, the last player to touch the puck before an own goal by Team Blue.
“We had a lot of fun,” Kieffer Bellows said. “I think everybody did from all three teams. Our team went 1-1, we lost the first one but came out and had a good second game. Dinger got a goal. That was pretty cool to see him get a goal there, it was awesome.”
Anthony Beauvillier finished with a goal and an assist for Team Blue in two games. He too was impressed by the crowd’s showing.
“We’re at the end of June and the rink was full,” Beauvillier said. “We had fun, I think it was a great experience for the fans too.”
After the game, the prospects showcased their skills for the fans, with a shootout, hardest shot and team breakaway competitions. With no Ryan Pulock at camp, the hardest shot was up for grabs and Loic Leduc - a 6’6, 229lbs. defenseman - took home the title, clocking in at 96 mph. Team White took home the Team Breakaway competition.
The night ended with an autograph session with the first-round picks, a chance to introduce themselves to the Islanders fans. For Bellows and the new prospects, Wednesday’s scrimmage was also a chance for the Islanders fans to introduce themselves to the new prospects - and they impressed.
“Seeing the crowd, seeing how loud they get was awesome,” Bellows said. “Just being out there with all of the guys enjoying the skills competition, the games, the crowd was into it, we were into it. It was a blast, it was awesome.”