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The Official Site of the New York Islanders

Only a memory: Part I

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Sports fans are amazing, but the diehards are even better. They show up to practices, rallies and games decked out in team colors and gear. It’s those fans who come up with unique chants, cheer on their team and taunt their opponents with deafening excitement. It’s also those fans, cheering with blistering intensity, that help fuel the fire between already passionate rivalries.

Those kinds of rivalries exist throughout the world of sports, but all sorts of situations arise and force players to set those rivalries aside as they gear up toward a common goal. This week, Islanders prospects and camp invites from across the world have come together on Long Island not only to impress management and coaches at Islanders Mini-Camp, but also to forge relationships that will last a lifetime.

(These players have) a rivalry on Friday and Saturday nights when they play, but when they get here, the friendships are going to last forever. - Jack Capuano, Islanders Head Coach
“Whether it’s collegiate hockey where they’re playing against each other or it is major junior hockey, or even the invites that come, (these players have) a rivalry on Friday and Saturday nights when they play, but when they get here, the friendships are going to last forever,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano.

Many of these players come to Long Island and find one of their rivals sitting in their neighboring locker room stall. While there is a good divide between the Blue Team and White Team for Saturday’s scrimmage and skills competition, these players still have plenty of time to get to know one another on a more personal level.

“They seem to be getting along pretty well,” Capuano said. “The team bonding happened pretty quickly. Our staff did a great job putting together some things for team building here (like fishing trips, a Mets game and a day at the beach). That’s the one thing that you want the kids to leave here with, which is very important. These guys, at some point in their careers, are going to be battling for jobs here on Long Island.”

And so it goes, rivalries galore:

The Islanders second round draft selection in 2008, Corey Trivino, and his Boston University teammate Ben Rosen, are the first half of a Hockey East rivalry present on Long Island this week.

Tyler McNeely skates at Islanders Mini-Camp held at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
Completing the second half are a couple of Northeastern Huskies: the Islanders newly acquired forward and former free agent Tyler McNeely, who signed a two-way contract with the club after he completed his fourth season of college hockey as well as Huskies goaltender and Camp invite Chris Rawlings.

With their campuses are not even two miles from each other, these games are always filled with fans of both teams and can get pretty animated. Their teammates back at school may not be too keen about these blossoming friendships, but the rivalry gap has been bridged for this week of camp.

“It’s a totally different atmosphere,” McNeely said. “Once you get in here and you’re on the same team, you kind of have something in common and you can laugh about the times it got a little heated.”
On his Northeastern rivals, McNeely said, “But It’s always kind of weird when you see those guys in a different light. My relationship with Chris is different because we know each other and hang around with each other, but to see those other NCAA guys that we play against all year is a little bit weird because there is that rivalry, especially against BU, there is a little bit of hatred there. But they’re all great guys and it’s a lot of fun once you get to know them.”

McNeely’s feelings were reciprocated by Trivino and Rosen despite the Huskies elimination of the Terriers from this past season’s playoffs.

“The mentality here is ‘We’re all Islanders’ so it seems like we’re all on the same team,” Trivino said. “We’re all wearing the same jersey, we have the same equipment. So it feels like we’re all a family here, but when it comes down to the (NCAA) season, it’s a different situation.”

Corey Trivino skates at Islanders Mini-Camp held at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
Trivino continued, “We had some tough battles against Northeastern (last season). McNeely and Rawlings were a big factor in those games. It’s frustrating when you can’t score against them. You just have to show some respect because they’re great players.”

Rosen also remembers the sting of the loss, but has respect for his fellow campers and is even disappointed that he and McNeely will not be on the same team come Saturday night’s scrimmage.

“Playing against McNeely, you never want to play against him,” Rosen said. “He was a first-line guy (at Northeastern) and he was a real tough little guy too. I’m a little upset that he’s on the Blue Team this week. I think I have a couple points against Rawlings, not too many that I’ve had all year. Rawlings is a big, strong goaltender.”

Rosen added, “They’re both great players, so you have to respect them as much as you dislike them on the ice (during the NCAA season).”
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