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by Jonathan Bamel / New York Islanders

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On the night of January 14, 2010, the Islanders put their sticks and skates aside for a night and donned a pair of bowling shoes to help out their community.  The event was the first annual Lady Islanders Bowl-A-Thon and it took place at the AMF Bowl in Garden City.  In attendance were Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Jack Hillen, Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Rob Schremp, Jeff Tambellini and John Tavares.  The Bowl-A-Thon supports girl’s hockey on Long Island and raises money for the Lady Islanders.

The Lady Islanders are a group of female ice hockey teams with players from Long Island, NYC and the surrounding areas. They consist of girls ranging from the Under 8 team to the Under 19 team.  There are about 95 girls that are currently skating in the Lady Islanders organization, but that number has been steadily growing.  Director of Hockey Operations, Zoë Schwam, said that one of the most encouraging things is seeing more and more girls on the ice every month.

The Islander players in attendance took photos, signed autographs, spoke with kids and their parents, and of course bowled to the best of their ability. The President of the Lady Islanders, Peter Ciccione, said that he was overwhelmed by the support that their organization was given from the Islanders.  He has two daughters that both grew up playing ice hockey, and his youngest, Jackie Ciccione, is currently on the Under 16 Lady Islanders team.

During the Bowl-A-Thon the Lady Islanders also hosted a coat drive, which was a complete success.  The event started at 7 p.m., and by 7:30 there were 7 large trash bags filled with donated coats from players and the community. 

“It’s great to give back, and help raise money for the Lady Islanders,” Tavares said.  “To come out and spend time with the girls and bowl has been a lot of fun. The most important thing is to be able to give back and realize what it means to be a professional hockey player.”

The Bowl-A-Thon was the most successful event in Lady Islanders history, raising close to $10,000 for their cause.  The intention of the event was to not only to raise money, but raise the awareness of female youth hockey in Long Island. 

“These events are really important and the progression of girls hockey is really impressive. Back where I’m from (Ontario) it’s pretty big…and from the turnout tonight, you can see that it’s getting even bigger.”

One of the members of the Lady Islanders, Jackie Jusino, said that she has been playing ice hockey for 10 years.  She is currently on the Lady Islanders Under 19 team, and said that having the Islanders support at the Bowl-A-Thon was, “pretty awesome.” Melissa Thomas, whose daughter plays on the under 12 Lady Islanders, said that girls hockey “has a long way to go, but when you go to the tournaments, the turnout you see is amazing.”

Blake Comeau got off to the best start, bowling four strikes in the first four frames he played, but cooled off a little, and finished with a 165 score.  Rob Schremp, who was the first Islander to arrive and the last to leave, had the high score of the evening bowling a 170.  Not all of the Islanders fared as well as Schremp however.  Kyle Okposo took a little while to get warmed up, and after only scoring 48 in his opening game, he rebounded nicely to finish with a 109 in his third.

Okposo was in high spirits on the night and simply said, “Call a spade a spade. I’m a terrible bowler.”
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