Monday night, the Islanders continued their support for the grand opening of the newest Modell’s Sporting Goods location in Oceanside. Islanders fans piled into the store to show their support for the team and store – this time with the chance to meet Islanders defenseman
After Modell’s opened their Long Beach Road location on Friday, Dec. 2, the Islanders joined in the celebration on Saturday, Dec. 3 with special visits from Sparky, the Dragon and the Ice Girls. Eaton and Pandolfo capped off the Isles weekend at Modell’s.
“It’s great because it gives the local community the chance to come see players that they look up to,” said store manager Wayne Press. “They can both come to the meet and greets and then look around (at the merchandise). It’s nice for the everyday fan to come out and enjoy an Islanders player for a night.”
|Joseph Ragusano meets Mark Eaton and Jay Pandolfo of the New York Islanders at Modell’s in Oceanside on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. Click the photo to view a gallery. |
Saturday’s event gave the first 100 fans in line a pair of tickets to catch the Islanders Tuesday night match up against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lisa Ragusano, her daughter Ashley Marie, 15, and her son Joseph, 9, waited in line Saturday and were first in line for Monday’s autograph signing.
“We came at 4 p.m.,” said Ragusano, a Valley Stream native. “We were really excited. This is our first (autograph) outing. He (Joseph) just became a hockey fan, so this is new for us, but it’s great. We won the tickets, we’re going to the game (Tuesday) and his birthday is Thursday, so this is turning out to be a great week for us.”
Though Eaton and Pandolfo are both currently sidelined with injuries, they signed autographs and posed for pictures with over 50 fans. According to Eaton, anytime there’s a chance to be in the community and interact with fans, it’s always enjoyable.
“These events are nice because these are the fans who support us,” Eaton said. “It’s not often that we can get out and meet them, shake their hands and personalize things for them. Hopefully they enjoy it because we definitely do.”
For Michael Mazzocco and his 7-year-old daughter, Riley, driving from Rockville Centre to meet two of the Islanders was the perfect way to spend their father-daughter time Monday evening.
“We actually come to a lot (of these signings),” the elder Mazzocco said. “We were fourth in line to win the tickets (Saturday) and we went to the Ullstrom signing, so when we heard this signing was also here, we had to come.”
|Mark Eaton and Jay Pandolfo of the New York Islanders pose for pictures and sign autographs for fans at Modell’s in Oceanside on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. |
Riley brought along an Islanders stick – already signed by Matt Moulson
, Josh Bailey
and Andrew MacDonald
, to name a few – so adding signatures from Eaton and Pandolfo was exactly what she was looking for.
“She’s working on getting that stick signed by the whole team,” Mazzocco said. “We love to go to games together and come out to these events to meet the players. All of the players are just great and she loves it.”
When Pandolfo heard that some fans specifically arrived for the opportunity to meet him, the modest veteran said he was somewhat surprised.
“I mean right now, we’re both on the shelf, so I am pretty surprised,” he joked. “We’ve been playing for a long time, both of us, so it’s nice to see you have some fans out there. It definitely makes these events fun.”
As the Modell’s grand opening event concludes during Tuesday night’s game, Press said the weekend with the Islanders was a tremendous success overall, thanks in large part to Eaton and Pandolfo.
Eaton was more than happy to contribute.
“We’re glad we can help out,” he said. “We’re happy to be here and if us being here brings more people and introduces them to the new store, that’s a bonus.”