For one local Long Islander, attending Islanders Mini-Camp is a dream come true.
Stephen Alonge, born and raised in nearby Lynbrook, is one of seven Long Island natives participating in camp this week. For a player who has spent his entire youth and junior career playing for teams on the Island, Alonge was thrilled to have this opportunity. He can’t wait to suit up and play on the Coliseum ice.
“I couldn’t be happier than to be here at the Islanders Mini-Camp,” Alonge said. “It’s honestly great to be here. I love it. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When I found out I go the invite, I was off the wall. I was running all around. I was just so happy. It’s going to be such a great opportunity for me.”
The 18-year-old started playing hockey at a later age than most. Alonge was 11 when he first picked up a stick, but he has drastically improved his game in seven short years.
“I started on a semi-travel team and just kept going from there,” Alonge said. “Then I played on some better teams, which helped a lot, so I just got better.”
He described playing his entire career on Long Island as a great experience, one that he wouldn’t change for anything. If given the opportunity to continue that career in an Islanders uniform someday, he would be amazed.
“I loved playing hockey here on Long Island,” he said. “You know everyone and I’ve made a lot of friends. It’s always been a great time.”
One of those Long Island teams was the New York Bobcats of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. Alonge recently finished his first season with the Bobcats, where he began the season as a defenseman, but wrapped up as a forward. He tallied five goals and seven assists during the 2010-11 campaign.
“I started out on defense, but I think I played a little wild and got into some fights,” Alonge said. “I moved to forward to show what I could do. I played as a power forward and it turned out to be a pretty good season that I was happy about.”
The natural-born fighter accumulated 128 penalty minutes in his 34 games with the Bobcats, who play at Newbridge Arena in Bellmore.
“I did fight a lot last season,” Alonge said. “I actually love fighting. It’s kind of who I am. Overall, last season was a really good year for me.”
Having grown up locally, Alonge has played alongside and against some of the other Long Island camp invites, including Dan O’Donoghue (Port Jefferson Station) and Danny Linell (Great Neck), who also played for the Bobcats two years before Alonge. He also played against fellow camp and AJHL player Max Capuano.
“I remember playing against Max,” Alonge said. “His team was pretty good and there was always a great competition every time we played each other.”
While both teams finished first in their respective divisions, it was Capuano’s Walpole Express that won the league. As Alonge will spend the week skating alongside Capuano and his fellow Long Islanders, he will also have the opportunity to play and show his skills in front of his family and friends during the Blue & White Scrimmage on Saturday.
“That’s what I’m most looking forward to,” he said. “I have a lot of family and friends coming to the game. It’s going to be really nice and definitely a good time for all of us.”
Whether he continues his hockey career on Long Island with the Bobcats or with the Islanders sometime in the future, Alonge said this week is about trying to show the type of player he is and have some fun while doing it.
“I just can’t wait to get on that ice and start all of the workouts,” he said. “I’m looking to have fun and work as hard as I can. I have to show them what I got and hopefully I can make a name for myself at this camp, even if it is just a little.”