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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

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On Sunday, April 11, the Islanders played their final game of the season, losing a gritty 6-5 overtime battle to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  After the game, the Islanders continued their tradition of honoring their fans, with team captain Doug Weight taking the ice to thank  them for their support throughout the season. The players then took off their game worn jerseys, and one by one handed them to the fans who had bid on the jerseys on the NHL’s auction site—part of the Islanders’ annual "Jerseys off our Backs" Promotion, benefitting the Islanders’ Children’s Foundation.

Hundreds of fans had bid for the right to meet their favorite Islanders players and take home their jerseys following the season’s last game. Tedd Bosch and his son Austin were among the families of winning auctioneers that got the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk onto the Nassau Coliseum ice with their favorite athletes.

"It was great!  To do something like this for my son is just an awesome feeling," Tedd Bosch said of the experience. And his son was appreciative of his father’s generosity, "It was really cool," said Austin. "This is only the second game I’ve ever been too. I am so excited!"

The Bosch family was the lucky high bidder for the No. 10 jersey of Richard Parks, but the Isles’ right-winger was not the only reason Mr. Bosch and his son made the long trip from Canada to the Coliseum.  "We drove 12 hours straight from Canada to come here," Tedd said.  "We used to watch [Islanders’ rookie sensation John] Tavares play during his junior years, so we were quite excited to see him on the ice in person again.  He hooked us up with an autograph and a quick hello—what more could you ask for?"

You have to admire the Islanders, especially during the early 80’s," Bosch added.  "I used to watch [Mike] Bossy and Trotts {Brian Trottier]  when I was a kid.  I grew up on those guys, on that team, those cups were historical moments,and now I feel like I am a part of that history by stepping on the ice"

Alan Logan was the fortunate winner of Frans Nielsen’s jersey, and sent his son Matthew and daughter Samantha on to the ice to collect the keepsake from their favorite Islander.  Logan said he is a big fan of Nielsen because of his hustle, and his kids were beaming with excitement before stepping out onto the Coliseum ice.

Sisters Bracha and Rivka Kahn describe themselves as "diehard Islanders fans," and were equally eager to meet their favorite Islanders player, Dustin Kohn, and to receive his jersey—a gift from their father.  Robert Miernicki and his daughter Melissa were the recipients of Josh Bailey’s jersey, and Robert said, "My daughter really wanted Bailey’s jersey, so luckily [the bidding] never got to a point where it was too much and I had to say no."

Martin and Jacob Valk might have been the most motivated bidders, as they were in Israel for Jacob’s Bar Mitzvah on the day that bidding was ending. After bidding on Rob Schremp’s jersey in America, they woke up at 6:45 a.m. on the last day for bidding only to find out that they’d been outbid on the shirt. Luckily for them, they were able to get on the internet, increase their bid, and win the Schremp jersey that they wanted. Jacob also said confidently that, "During this offseason, the Islanders will probably resign Schremp to a three- or four- year deal." 

After the jersey exchange, Jordan Mossberg, who came away with Andy MacDonald’s jersey, said the whole thing was a great experience.  This was his second year doing it, and Mossberg said that MacDonald was, "a real nice guy," adding, " Hopefully there are great things coming up in the future for him."

Everyone who participated in the "Jerseys off our Backs" promotion left with a feeling of Islanders’ pride, after one of the most important years in the proud franchise’srebuilding process. Importantly, the "Jerseys off our Backs promotion raised  more than $15,000 for to the Islanders Childrens’ Foundation.  Even though the Islanders had just lost a tough game, nothing could wipe the smiles off the fans faces as they left the Coliseum with a little piece of Islander history.
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