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MET-Rx Brings Fans to Skate with Greats

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
It is every Islanders fan’s dream to take a pass from Butch Goring, send Clark Gillies streaking up the ice, avoid a check from Eric Cairns and stop a Mike Bossy breakaway.

Sunday evening, after the Islanders and Florida Panthers left the ice, eight lucky contest winners realized those dreams thanks to MET-Rx and their Skate with the Greats event.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Brian Hinton, a contestant winner, said. “The old-timers are wonderful guys, all of them.”

Boomer Esiason with his son Gunnar on his wing takes the opening faceoff at Met-Rx Skate with the Greats game at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 12, 2012
Hinton had the chance to win the game for the MET-Rx White Islanders in the waning minutes of the third period and in the shootout, but MET-Rx Blue skated away with an 8-7 shootout victory. Butch Goring won it for the Blue squad, sniping a wrist shot high on Bryan Stoothoff.

While the fans realized their lifelong dreams, the Greats relished the chance to skate together again, sharing laughs as well as the ice.

“It was a treat to get out there,” Bobby Nystrom said. “It’s nice to get together because we don’t get together as much as we used to. Everything about it was super.”

“It’s fun for us to go out there and try to get that old feeling back,” Gillies said. “I do get a little chill once in a while walking down the hallway going to the ice, you obviously can’t help but think back to the old days.”

Islanders from all generations were on hand Sunday. Chico Resch suited up for the first period, playing on a team with Goring, Nystrom, Cairns and Doug Weight. Bossy and Gillies donned the old home white sweaters with current GM Garth Snow and special guest Boomer Esiason.  

With wood sticks, no helmets and lots of playful hooking, the game took on an old-time hockey feel.

“I’ve got so much respect for the current players,” Nystrom said. “To be disciplined enough not to reach out and hook somebody, I don’t know how they do it.”

The goals won’t count towards anyone’s stats and neither will the win. At the end of the day, it was about skating with old teammates and letting fans cross an item off their bucket list.

“It’s just so much fun for those guys to come out and be apart of skating with some of the old Islanders,” Gillies said. “I’m sure they enjoyed the heck out of it.”

They sure did.

“A wonderful three weeks of training and all the way throughout the game,” Hinton said. “It was phenomenal.”
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