The Islanders Street Learning Experience completed its first season with a tournament at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The I.S.L.E. program has helped promote the sport of hockey by visiting 50 schools on Long Island throughout the season. The program donates street hockey goals, sticks and balls to the physical education departments, and instructs teachers on how to conduct a two-week floor hockey unit in their gym classes.
"The program teaches the instruction of team play and the enjoyment of hockey," said Dan Bedard, Islanders Director of Amateur Hockey Development. "A lot of the kids are introduced to hockey for the very first time. They learn the concepts of scoring, shooting and passing through the lessons taught by their teacher."
On Saturday, the I.S.L.E. program hosted nine schools from across Long Island to compete in a friendly round-robin tournament in the Expo Hall of the Coliseum. The nine teams rotated between the four rinks, with one team taking a breather to enjoy the Family Fan Fest inflatable games. More than 300 kids and parents were in attendance for the exciting tournament.
"This is an event so we can bring different schools from the Long Island community together to experience something they have been sharing individually in their own schools," said Bedard. "We’re looking to expand upon this in the future. The kids and parents have been very excited today."
The kids were hyped-up for the two-and-a-half-hour long tournament and were excited to score goals and celebrate with teammates.
"It’s really fun to play street hockey. I already scored a hat trick," said Aidan Roughan of the Tuckahoe Tigers in Southampton between shifts. "The best thing about hockey is scoring goals. My team is doing well today. We won the last game because my teammates are good. I am excited about the game tonight because I get to see Okposo, who makes good moves."
Without the support of parents and teachers, the I.S.L.E. program could not have garnered the success it has had in its first season.
"The children are now able to play hockey in phys ed for a longer period of time because we have enough equipment for everybody to get a chance to play," said Cathy Tyler, who is a teacher at Tuckahoe. "Some of these kids have never been to a hockey team and this is an amazing experience for them."
Along with receiving street hockey equipment, each participant of the I.S.L.E. program receives a ticket for themselves and an adult for an upcoming Islanders game.
To sign up your school for the I.S.L.E. program, please e-mail AmateurHockey@newyorkislanders.com.