Justin Ryan's four-year-old son, James, is outfitted in a shrunk-down Anders Lee jersey and an oversized hard hat, both of which are covered in autographs, as they walk around the Coliseum at the Isles Meet the Team event.
The main mission for the father and son on Sunday was to meet the Islanders' captain, who happens to be James' favorite player. They've already got their picture taken with Lee and will head back for an autograph. In the interim, they're making their rounds on the Coliseum concourse, meeting everyone from Jordan Eberle to co-owner Jon Ledecky.
For Justin, who remembered meeting Pierre Turgeon, Al Arbour and Tommy Salo when he was a kid, Sunday is about creating life-long memories for James.
"It means everything," Justin said. "I used to come here when I was his age and to be able to experience it with him now means actually everything."
The Ryans were two of the thousands of season ticket members who got to meet the team on Sunday, a perk of membership.
The event was any Isles' fans dream. The entire team was on hand to take pictures and sign autographs on everything from jerseys to helmets and sticks. (Adam Pelech even signed a blown-up image of his head, in one of the more unique requests of the day.) Radar and Tori, the Isles puppies, were rolling over for belly rubs and the Isles trophy case was opened for fans to take pictures with the Jack Adams and William Jennings Trophies.
The Isles' Stanley Cup banners and retired numbers were brought down to ice level for pictures. If a Clark Gillies banner doesn't do it for you, how about the man himself, as Gillies and Bob Nystrom joined the party to mingle with fans.
Russell Berman, a 20-year season ticket holder, whose family has had tickets since 1972, came on Sunday with his wife Julie and sons Charlie and Jack. They got autographs from Mathew Barzal, Eberle and Ryan Pulock and were looking forward to meeting Noah Dobson. They have good seats in section 101, but there's no substitute for being up close and meeting them in person.
"We're all die-hard Islanders fans, we bleed blue and orange, so to be that close to the players and shake their hands and have a quick conversation with them, it humanizes them and it's great," Berman said.
Laura Valente brought her two sons, Brian and Ronan to Sunday's event. Brian, 6, attended Matt Martin's Hockey Academy over the summer, so he was eager to see Martin again, as well as Barzal - his favorite player - and Anthony Beauvillier, who once tossed him a puck at warmups. The Valente's are going to have to add another season to their ticket package for young Ronan, who was clutching an Isles mini goalie stick while being carried by his mom.
"It's so wonderful that they'd do something like this for the fans," Laura said.
For the Islanders, a day like Sunday was an easy way to say thank you to some of their biggest fans. They know these are the people who come out and support them every night and they appreciate their overwhelming passion for the team.
"You see these kids and the smiles on their faces, it makes for a good day," Lee said. "It's always a nice time to meet some of the fans that we haven't met before, or have an opportunity to take a photo with them. It's just a good day for everyone to connect a little bit. That's what makes playing on the Island so special."