|Islanders General Manager Garth Snow meets one of the young players from Special Hockey Day. Click here for photos. |
On Saturday afternoon, the hockey games at Nassau Coliseum shed new light on the definition of special. The Islanders and the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) organized their second annual Special Hockey Day, featuring the Long Island Blues, New York Raptors, East Coast Jumbos, Nova Coolcats, Fearless Flyers and Bucks County Admirals.
“We work with hundreds of wonderful charities of every year, but this is one of the best events we’re able to host at the Coliseum,” Josh Rose, Islanders Director of Group Sales, said. “It’s extremely important to our organization that we assist these groups however we can and with the Long Island Blues based in our backyard, it’s natural to lend them a helping hand. We’re Long Island’s team and we’re here to take care of our community.”
The six special hockey teams in attendance competed with each other in games before sharing the ice for a skills clinic. That clinic became another special hockey moment when Islanders alumnus Benoit Hogue stepped on the ice to lead the drills and join in the fun.
“Typical kids don’t even get this amazing opportunity,” Stephen Stefanakos, whose son William plays for the Blues, said. “For special needs children to have this chance is incredible. It shows that the Islanders put all their support behind the local causes that need them.”
Before he took the ice, William enjoyed a surprise visit from Islanders General Manager Garth Snow as he watched the first special hockey game of the day.
“This makes our kids feel even more special,” the elder Stefanakos said. “We can really see the Islanders support up close. All week William was saying, ‘I’m really going to be on the ice, just like the NHL.’ That says it all.”
After more than three hours of fun on the ice, the special hockey contingent joined the Coliseum faithful to cheer on the Isles as they squared off with the Sabres in a New York state battle. The Islanders designated the Long Island Blues and their special hockey family as the night’s Charity of the Game, a significant title due in large part to their friends’ and families’ noteworthy contributions.
To learn more about the Long Island Blues and Special Hockey, please visit www.LongIslandBlues.org