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MIKE'S MEMO: A Dream Fulfilled

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

After months of planning and stressing over passports and visas and travel arrangements, it is a pleasure to inform you that everything is a "GO" for the arrival of two youth hockey teams from the Chinese cities of Harbin and QiQihar in late December. We intend to make this a visit that they will never forget.

The teams will first stop in Ottawa to attend the Bell Atlantic Atom Tournament, the largest of its kind in the world.  After a welcome reception and press conference at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa at which they will be presented with a complete set of equipment courtesy of Nike-Bauer, the kids will join a host family from the region.  Their week will include games against multi-national competitiors, a game played at the Corel Center, All-Star and Skills Competitions, a trip to the Islanders/Senators game on Dec. 30 and much more.  You can expect to see some representation of the teams on the ice prior to the Isles game. Next stop....Long Island.

We expect the teams to arrive on January 2nd.  We have much planned for these kids.  Trips to the best of Long Island, Roosevelt Field Mall, to the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, a stroll through Central Park, and the January 4 Islanders-Panthers game at the Coliseum are all on the agenda.  The kids will also compete against local teams at the Coliseum on the afternoon of the 4th.  It all bodes for an incredible trip.

Special thanks to Stan Pesnar and Paul Packer and everyone who attended our fundraiser on  September 7th that raised much of our needed funds. Additional thanks to Chris Botta, who organized private fundraising dinners with Charles and I that were a great deal of fun for me.

Thanks to Bernadette Mansur of the NHL offfices and the following teams who all responded to my offer to make this a special event:  Anaheim, Chicago, St Louis, Atlanta, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto, Washington, and New Jersey.  We intend to send daily updates to all of these teams on the progress of their young charges and you will all be able to follow along as we keep you updated on this website.

Finally, a special thanks to Roy Mlakar and the Ottawa Senators, who were the inspiration for this visit and for the very existence of the tournament. Roy, Aaron Robinson, Lou Greco and the rest of their staff have made this possible.

December 14, 2005

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