“A little late, Camalleri,” Vinny Messina, co-director of hockey at Iceworks, joked. “My cousin drove me, I can’t drive,” six-year old Camalleri giggled back. “Yea, yea, yea. Pick up the pace,” Messina answered.
The bright red clock, hanging outside of the Islanders dressing room read 12:05, five minutes past when Camalleri was supposed to step onto the ice. The young hockey player sprinted past the various legendary New York Islanders team photos hung on the wall as you enter the arena and darted into his dressing room. As the youngest member of the camp, he suited up and joined nine fellow Iceworks campers, ages ranging from six to 13.
Iceworks is the official practice facility of the New York Islanders. The facility offers a summer camp that focuses on the game of hockey – on and off the ice. Children have the opportunity to compete and learn valuable lessons while having a ton of fun.
Tuesday, Islanders’ players Josh Bailey
and Andrew MacDonald
were on the ice with Messina and Coach Mike Lang developing the young campers’ skills. Since both players were once in these campers’ shoes – or skates – they were more than willing to give back to the community and teach the children a thing or two.
“As a defenseman, I want to work on some backwards skating but for the most part we are just here to teach them the small parts of the game and make sure they have fun,” MacDonald said.
As the 10 campers anticipated the arrival of the pro hockey players, the campers skated laps to warm up.
The experience on the ice held by the campers, varied from seven months of experience on the ice to ten years.
“The intermediate skater is the bulk of the kids we have. If we have advanced kids or some beginner kids, we normally can separate them in drills and lines. We can teach a number of levels on the same sheet of ice by making stations,” Messina said. “We have been doing it for so long we can pretty much adapt to whatever player levels we have for that week.”
However, no matter the experience, each camper could not hide their feelings of overwhelming excitement as they waited for Bailey and MacDonald to lace up their skates and hop on the ice with them.
John Dalessendro and Peter Joyce came to Iceworks camp together for the fourth year in a row. Best of friends, they have been learning something new each day and couldn’t wait to hear some of the pointers from guys who skate in the NHL.
Dalessendro switched from playing forward to defense and could not wait for fellow defenseman Andrew MacDonald
to coach him.
“I can’t wait for MacDonald to teach me better accuracy with the puck and better shooting. I like defense because it’s fun. I get to go up sometimes and shoot the puck and other times get back and get to see who the puck gets passed to,” thirteen-year old Dalessendro said.
His buddy Joyce plays right wing. He wanted Bailey to help him perfect his stick-handling skills as well as balance, speed, and accuracy. Fortunately for Joyce, he had Bailey, and Islanders forward, showing him different drills he used to do that got him to where he is today.
“I want to learn the basics of hockey from Bailey – how the pros get ready for hockey, how they approach the game, how they take every day, how they practice and how they just play hockey overall,” Joyce said. “I am really excited, I played with the best and it’s cool to say I know them now.”