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Isles inaugural Casino Night a "tremendous success"

by David Hochman / New York Islanders
The first-ever New York Islanders Casino Night presented by NBTY was an enormous success. Islanders players and their wives not only participated in the event as dealers and hostesses, but they were decked out in black-tie garb and walked the red carpet before the media at the luxurious Inn at New Hyde Park.

“I probably spent longer getting ready than I have in a while,” Matt Moulson said as he strutted down the Red Carpet. “The tux looks good though, I like it. Clearly I’m the best-looking in it.”

The event benefitted the Islanders Children’s Foundation (ICF) and set a major precedent for next year.

“This is a great event,” Tavares said as he dealt cards from behind his Blackjack table. “To see all these fans come out and support us and the Children’s Foundation is really special and it means a lot to us all.”

Players are used to wheeling and dealing on the ice, but this was a whole different experience. Instead of speeding down the wing, Michael Grabner sped through the decks he dealt in Texas Hold ‘Em. Since PA Parenteau wasn’t setting up his linemates all night, he set up plenty of fans for 21 in Blackjack. Matt Martin took the night off from delivering hits and tried to deliver a hot Roulette wheel – 17 Black was not as hot as he hoped though.

“Right there, you’ve got to go right there,” Martin told his donating customers as he pointed at the black 17 woven into the felt-green gambling table. “It’s hot, that’s where you need to throw it all.”

It may not have actually netted fans big winnings at his table, but they had a great time nonetheless. Between spins, rolls and deals, Martin and his two dozen teammates and coaches signed autographs, posed for pictures and chatted up the good people contributing to the ICF.

“I’m having a great time with everyone,” Nino Niederreiter said. “These fans are wonderful and it’s just real fun talking to them and playing the games with them. And I don’t look too bad in my tux if I do say so.”

Guests and players enjoyed themselves at the casino tables all night long, but the live auctions may have been the most exciting point of the evening. The MC’s for the evening, MSG-Plus broadcasters Howie Rose and Butch Goring, entertained the crowd of more than 200 guests with their auctioneering skills. Goring especially came off as a natural when he helped raise the bids on John Tavares’ game-worn All-Star jersey from $600 to over $10,000.

From that energetic start, the guests at Casino Night upped the ante on each other, bidding into five figures for two road trips with the team and a special road trip to the NHL Draft. The four live auction items alone garnered over $40,000 for the Foundation as 100 percent of the event’s proceeds will support the ICF mission.

“Tonight was a tremendous success in every part of the evening,” Islanders Community Relations Manager Ann Rina said. “We’ve been wanting to hold a Casino Night for a long time and had high hopes, but this surpassed all our expectations. From the number of guests to the amount of money raised, this was a wonderful evening and we’re so grateful to all the wonderful donors who came.”

The Islanders Children’s Foundation is dedicated to supporting Long Island-based, non-profit organizations that provide opportunities to children as well as a variety of in-house youth programming. The Foundation will work with children’s charities that focus on the areas of health, education and youth hockey development. Through the tireless efforts of Islanders players, employees and management, partnered with the support of loyal sponsors and fans, donations are raised for the Foundation.

Those efforts certainly came to fruition Wednesday night at Pucks & Bucks.

If you weren’t able to join the Islanders Wednesday night, here’s a list of which players ran which games:

Josh Bailey: Blackjack
Rick DiPietro: Blackjack
Mark Eaton: Blackjack
Michael Grabner: Texas Hold ‘Em
Travis Hamonic: Blackjack
Milan Jurcina & Evgeni Nabokov: Slot Machines
Andrew MacDonald & Al Montoya: Money Wheel
Matt Martin: Roulette
Matt Moulson: Blackjack
Frans Nielsen: Blackjack
Kyle Okposo: Texas Hold ‘Em
Jay Pandolfo: Roulette
PA Parenteau: Blackjack
Marty Reasoner: Blackjack
Brian Rolston, Dylan Reese & Tim Wallace: Craps
Steve Staios & Mike Mottau: Blackjack
Mark Streit & Nino Niederreiter: Blackjack
John Tavares: Blackjack

The music blared, the tables heated up, the room was filled to the brim and the guests looked good. With the dice rolling and the cards sliding, Wednesday night in New Hyde Park turned into one extra-special evening. Stay tuned to for the next great Islanders Children’s Foundation event!

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