It was an exciting day for hockey on Long Island, as the New York Islanders Hockey Academy kicked off its classes with a one hour equipment fitting and skate test at the Islanders Official Practice Facility, Iceworks in Syosset. The class itself was the culmination of months of hard work, as all of the students involved had the task of selling 20 Islander ticket vouchers to gain entry into the academy. The vouchers cost $25 each and were redeemable for a ticket to any weekday game during the Islanders regular season. The ages of the children in the Academy ranged from 6-14, and this first session had 22 children in the group. Cathleen Keane, a mother for one of the academy’s first time students said it really wasn’t that tough to sell all of the vouchers, and said her son, Seamus, was very excited for the academy to finally be starting.
Registration for the Spring Academy started in December, so many of the students were eager to finally get all of their gear and step onto the ice. First time academy members received full hockey equipment (skates, shin guards, pants, socks, elbow pads, shoulder pads, gloves, hockey bag, a stick and a jersey) and 6 weeks of instruction. Academy members that already own equipment will receive 10 weeks of instruction. The Academy has 110 students in total this year.
Many children thought that they were just receiving their equipment, but when they heard they would be headed out on the ice for a bit, their faces lit up with anticipation and could hardly wait to get all of their equipment on to get out there. Each child had their own hockey bag labeled with their name, and were helped into equipment by people working for both the Islanders and Iceworks. On the ice, the children were put through simple skating drills by Coach Vinny Messina, one of the Iceworks Hockey Instructors. Most of the children were good skaters already, but for the few that it was their first time on the ice, it was a little tougher.
Michelle Winter, the Manager of Amateur Hockey and Events for the Islanders said that, “The Islanders are pleased to be able to give these kids a great opportunity, and hopefully the skills and teamwork learned will carry over to other facets of their lives.”
Cathleen Keane was thrilled with the organization’s participation in growing the sport on Long Island.
“The program gives kids the chance to get out on the ice and play where maybe some normally wouldn’t have had that opportunity.” Keane said.
For more information about how to join the Islanders Hockey Academy, contact the team’s front office at (516) 501-6700, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.