By Jason Lockhart
It was all about the littlest Islanders fans Saturday on Kids' Opening Night, but it wasn't just at the game the youngsters were the focus. The day began at 4 pm outside of the Coliseum at the NYI Kids Zone.
Sparky, the Ice Girls, Carolina's Stormy and other NHL mascots were on hand prior to the start of Saturday's 4-3 overtime win over the Hurricanes for an afternoon of fun and games. The Kids Zone was packed right up until game time at 7 pm, despite the blistering winds that didn't dampen anyone's spirits.
Among the activities were a giant Islanders slide and the ever-popular slapshot booth.
Games included the Islanders/LIPA prize wheel, with all sorts of goodies won at every spin of the wheel. Bubble hockey, air hockey and foosball were also well-liked by the kids.
Those who passed by the DJ might have noticed Sparky and Stormy getting their dance on with some of the fans, who couldn't get enough of the NHL mascots that visited the Coliseum for this special day.
Islanders TV was also at the event searching for Junior Announcers, who had the opportunity to announce the Islanders goals during the game. Fans who wanted to show their true Islanders colors went to paint their faces blue and orange.
"The event had a great turnout," said former NYI Booster Club president Gary Harding. "It's important to have events that promote the team to kids because in 20 years these are going to be the biggest group of fans. It was a fun day for everyone."
The fun continued during the game with kids filling in as in-game interviewers, announcers and ice girls. The evening concluded better than could have been scripted with the Islanders tying the game late and winning just 23 seconds into overtime.
What a day!