After spending the summer traveling to various rinks on Long Island, it was time for the Rink Days to turn into Rink Nights at the Nassau Coliseum. It all started with Monday night's Rink Night honoring Islanders Iceworks and Long Beach Arena.
As part of the Islanders Community Events (I.C.E.) Tour, rinks on Long Island had a day during the summer where Islanders players, coaches, Sparky and the Ice Girls paid a visit to help create a closer relationship between the team and rinks on Long Island.
"We've had a great response in the community during our Rink Days with the NHL coaches," said Islanders Director of Amateur Hockey Development Dan Bedard. "It's an opportunity for parents and youth coaches to talk to NHL coaches. The concept of the Rink Nights was to have a connection with our professional hockey team in the community, reaching out to our young hockey players to inspire them to want one day play in the National Hockey League. The Rink Nights are an opportunity to let them know that we're here as a resource to help them go on to play high school, prep school or college hockey. There are so many opportunities for kids to have big dreams."
Now that the hockey season is underway, each of the rinks that had Islanders guests over the summer, will be treated to special nights at the Nassau Coliseum. All youth hockey participants at Islanders Iceworks and Long Beach Arena were given free ticket vouchers to Monday night's Islanders game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Expo Hall, which houses the Islanders Business Club headquarters, was transformed into a giant party room for the more than 200 youth hockey players and their families. The party included dinner, inflatables games for all to enjoy, and perhaps most importantly for the kids, video games and Tockey (foosball) tables.
"David has been scoring goals on the inflatables and Yale has been jumping around like crazy," said Avi Fodiman, referring to her two sons who skate at Long Beach. "It was great that my kids had the chance to meet the Islanders this summer. This was also very exciting for my kids because it is their first professional hockey game."
Also part of the evening's festivities was the Islanders Iceworks Long Island Gulls Squirt team, which participated in the National Anthem flag ceremony and played in a mini-game on the Coliseum ice during the first intermission.
"It was really cool to play on the Coliseum ice," said Michael from the Gulls. "I like playing in front of all the people."
While the kids were undoubtedly excited, the coaches and parents were just as thrilled to the Gulls play on the Coliseum ice.
"We skate out of Iceworks, and the kids love seeing the players when the practice coincides with the Islanders' practice," said John Conlin, the Governor of the Long Island Gulls Squirt team. "Having our kids skate on the ice between periods is great. It's a dream come true for some of these kids. This is a great thing the Islanders are doing to support the rinks on Long Island."
Monday night was just the first of five Rink Nights at the Coliseum designed to demonstrate the Islanders' support for youth hockey on Long Island.
"No matter what level you're at––the NHL, college, youth or just beginning––it's about having fun with the game," said Bedard. "Hockey is a way to share the experience together. And that's the sense of community the Islanders would like to share on Long Island."
Check Newyorkislanders.com for more information about future Rink Nights at the Coliseum. Click here
to watch an IslandersTV video from Rink Day at Iceworks.