Even from the stands, watching the Islanders carve up the ice and weave their way through opponents, the game is still so distant. The plexiglass boards serve both as a lens and a barrier to our favorite players. On Mar. 6, after the Islanders take on the New Jersey Devils at 3 p.m., a select group of Islanders fans will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join former Islanders on the ice for an exhibition game. The MET-Rx Skate with the Greats will feature eight lucky fans, and former Islanders Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Benoit Hogue, Steve Webb and Eric Cairns.
The New York Islanders have partnered with MET-Rx to sponsor the Skate with the Greats Sweepstakes. Fans were encouraged to apply for an opportunity to play alongside their heroes, after which eight applicants were chosen at random to share the ice with Islanders legends.
Prior to game day, each player participated in an intensive, three-week training program with Islanders strength coach Jesse Demers at Iceworks in Syosset. In addition to the professional level strength training, the contest winners also receive four tickets to the Mar. 6 game against the Devils, their own customized jersey and uniform socks.
Below you can meet each of the skaters prepared to share the Coliseum ice with the Greats:
Ronald Africk, 29
Africk, an information technology professional, lives with his girlfriend in Plainview. An avid roller hockey player for most of his life, he began playing ice hockey a little more than a year ago. He entered the contest because of his love for the game and desire to share the ice with former Islanders greats. “I thought it would be fun to train with the Islanders staff and play in a game with ex-NHL players,” said Africk.
Matt Reece, 23
Reece studies at Aerospace Technology at Dowling College. The youngest of four children, he lives in Massapequa Park with his parents, grandparents, and one older sister. Reece entered the contest at the behest of a friend. “We said jokingly that it would be amazing if I won, and got the chance to skate with some of the greatest hockey players in history,” said Reece. He attended his first game as a six-year-old with his grandfather, and has played the game ever since. “I’m looking forward to being able to play on the Nassau Coliseum ice in front of my grandfather, and playing with some of the best players in Islanders history.”
Sean Bradley, 18
Bradley is a freshman Forensic Science student at John Jay College. He lives in Wantagh with his parents, Rich and Maureen, older brother Tim, and younger sister Colleen. Being an Islanders fan runs in his family’s blood, and he jumped at the opportunity for a chance to play alongside some of the greats. “I entered the contest because I am and avid Islanders fan,” said Bradley. “Who wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to play hockey on the Coliseum ice with players who were part of the Islanders dynasty?” Bradley has played since age five, and captained the Levittown Ice Falcons in his senior year of high school.
Russell Feigenbaum, 41
Feigenbaum is a Director of Business Planning for Cablevision. He lives in Nesconset with his wife of 15 years, Kristina, 11-year-old daughter Heather, and eight-year-old son Ryan. He spent much of his youth playing in various ice, deck, and roller hockey leagues, and is excited to share the ice with the same players he grew up watching. Feigenbaum became interested in the contest after seeing it advertised during an Islanders home game. “I’m looking forward to getting on the ice with the Islanders players I grew up watching,” said Feigenbaum.
Adam Kandell, 28
Kandell is an Assistant Store Manager at the Nike Store in the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park. He lives in Middle Island with his wife Bonnie, and their dog, Khloe. A two-year varsity hockey player in high school, Kandell has 10 years of roller hockey experience. “This has been an amazing experience so far,” said Kandell. “I’m looking forward to the game and having memories that will last a lifetime.”
Bryan Kirsch, 22
Kirsch juggles his time between studying Earth Science and Secondary Education at Dowling College, and working part-time at Outback Steakhouse in Holbrook. He resides in Holbrook with his mother Anne and his sister Stephanie. An avid roller hockey player since the seventh grade, Kirsch considers himself an addict of the game. “I’m most looking forward to hopping over the boards at Nassau Coliseum,” said Kirsch. “It’s got to be a surreal feeling knowing all the legends that have done the same.”
Bill Matuzewski, 31
Matuszewski, a deli manager at Stop and Shop, resides in Rocky Point with his mother and his 11-year-old daughter Kayla. He also has a 15-year-old son Kyle. Matuszewski didn’t enter the contest, his girlfriend Shannon knows what a huge Islanders fan he is and entered him into the contest as a surprise. “I grew up in Uniondale and have been attending Islanders games since I was 5,” he said. “I played deck hockey and roller hockey but have never played ice hockey.” Mostly, he is looking forward to being on the same ice as the players he watched win the Stanley Cup, but added that he’s excited to “have the opportunity to skate on the ice at Nassau Coliseum in front of my friends and family.”
Glen Christiansen, 40
Christiansen is an electrician with IBEW Local #3. He lives in Islip with his wife Bobbi Jo, 13-year-old son, Jeremy, and 10-year-old daughter, Emily. He began playing hockey at age five in front of his childhood home, and has had a passion for the game ever since. He played junior varsity and varsity hockey at North Babylon High School, and now plays in a men’s league at The Rinx in Hauppauge. “I am looking forward to skating on the Coliseum ice,” said Christiansen. “It’s going to be great to skate with the players I watched on TV when I was growing up.”