The Islander faithful packed The Paramount in Huntington Thursday to watch their favorite team take on the Philadelphia Flyers. The viewing party, which brought fans together with Islander alumni as well as players of the future, had a playoff atmosphere with the team already having secured a spot in the postseason Tuesday in Carolina.
The event was free to the first 1,000 fans that secured their tickets, and with their ticket came the opportunity to mingle with Islanders prospects like 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome, who is thrilled when thinking about the hot streak that his future team has been on.
“The team and the fans deserve a playoff run - hopefully I can just do my part to contribute sometime soon,” Strome said. “I think the passion and the huge fan support here is really special. It’s great to see how many people really care about the team, even for road games like this one. They have locked up a playoff spot, but they (the fans) are still pretty interested. It’s really cool to see.”
Die-hard fans watched Thursday’s game with extra adoration for the Islanders knowing their season was far from over. Although the club has already punched its ticket to the postseason, Thursday's game still carried significance with playoff seeding yet to be determined.
While Thursday night’s event was a celebration of the Islanders playoff berth, the fan base was beaming with excitement for what lies ahead. Kevin Wilber of Seaford, who has been an Islander fan since he moved to Long Island seven years ago, said he is “amped” about the team’s recent success.
“I’ve watched them and they’ve struggled in the past,” Wilber said. “But this year they’re into it and they’re playing really well.”
Loyal supporters of all ages from across Long Island joined together as one to support the Orange & Blue, and lifetime fan Ryan Curran expressed his enthusiasm for the younger generation of Islanders fans.
“Some of the younger people get to see what we saw at the tail end of the team’s success a while ago, “ Curran said. “It’s nice to see the excitement among the fans.”
Islanders greats Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy entertained the capacity crowd during the second intermission, invigorating the group with memories of their past Stanley Cup titles as well as their belief in the 2012-13 squad.
“This year’s team has really inspired me,” Bossy said, as the crowd chanted his name. “I really think this team has a shot to go deep into the postseason.”
The level of excitement at The Paramount on Thursday night made it feel as if the Stanley Cup Playoffs had already begun. If the Islanders make as much noise in the postseason as their fans made Thursday, there is no doubt the team will make a serious run for the cup.