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Players hold informal skates at Iceworks

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
After the season ends, players take a month or so off from training to heal from the grueling 82-game season. They also take the time to enjoy the start of summer before beginning preparations for the next season.

By early June, Islanders players had picked up their regiments with a strict schedule of off-ice workouts. This is where they maintain their physical fitness and, if the coaches deem necessary, add muscle to their frame. By the time July rolls around, it’s time to hop back on the ice and prepare for training camp in September.

“I haven’t changed too much,” said Islanders forward Frans Nielsen. “I keep working on strengthening my legs and core, I try to keep improving my skating and I work on my overall form to make sure I can stay consistent for the whole year.”

Well, it’s September 2nd. And over the course of the last week, players have started to trickle back to Long Island to begin informal workouts at Iceworks, the team’s training facility in Syosset.

“I like being here and seeing the guys,” Nielsen said. “You don’t see too many of them during the summer, especially when you’re the only guy from Denmark. It’s a little far from here (he chuckled). I saw some of the guys earlier in the summer, but you’re mostly just by yourself without your teammates, so it’s always fun to be back, talking to them and hearing stories about their summers.”

Before we know it, the season will be under way. The team’s main training camp begins two weeks from today, while rookies report on Sept. 10.

“I guess, especially when you miss the playoffs, it’s a long, long summer and you just can’t wait to get going again,” Nielsen said. “It’s been too long. You miss the game. The closer it gets, the more exciting it gets. You just want to get going.”

The Islanders prospects get a little jump on their veteran counterparts as they compete in two rookie games at Nassau Coliseum against the Boston Bruins. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions’ prospects will bring a lot to the table in their preseason matchup with the Islanders rookies. Last year’s game was a physical one. Swiss power forward Nino Niederreiter got into the first fight of his life, sticking up for teammate David Ullstrom.

By game’s end, the Islanders rookies fell 5-2 in Boston’s TD Garden. They have a chance to respond in this year’s back-to-back set at the Coliseum.

“Their level of play was definitely higher than expected, but it was what it was,” Niederreiter said. Unfortunately we lost there, so it’s not a good memory. I had my first little wrestling match, I believe against (Tyler) Randell, but it was definitely fun.”

Getting even might be one driving force, but the Isles rookies will really be trying to showcase their skills.

“It’s the future of the Bruins and the Islanders, so it’s always a great game and it’s always nice to play a game against a team that is battling for the same thing you are,” Niederreiter said. “It’s always a good game.”

As the date for camp approaches quickly, the season will be here before we know it.
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