Over 350 pint-sized players took the ice at Northwell Health Ice Center on Sunday afternoon, as the New York Islanders hosted their 13th annual Mite Jamboree.
Thirty-two teams made up the record-breaking jamboree - 15 more than last year - marking the biggest turnout in the event's 13-year history. Every rink on Long Island and in Queens were represented by at least one team at this year's jamboree, as well as rinks in Westchester and Manhattan, as the Isles work to continue to grow the game at the grassroots level.
"This year we had a record-breaking 32 teams participate, with over 350 participants coming from Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Manhattan and Westchester," said Jocelyne Cummings, the Islanders Director of Amateur Hockey Development. "We're happy to say that every single rink was represented on the Island and Queens."
Teams played a series of cross-ice games, which is encouraged for kids who are eight and under. The focus of Sunday was on having fun and sportsmanship, two pillars of the youth hockey experience.
"It's supposed to be enjoyable," Cummings said. "They are just learning, so we want them to love our game as much as we do. And we want them to be able have some fun while they're playing."
The idea is that if kids have fun at an early age, they'll stay with the game as they grow up. If fun was the goal, then Sunday's record-breaking jamboree was a success.
"It's just one of those events where you have kids running around in every direction. They're all laughing and high-fiving each other," Cummings said. "The sportsmanship aspect was really shown today, which is exactly what we want to show and support."