On Saturday, Oct. 6, Islanders season ticket holders were treated to an open Bridgeport Sound Tigers practice at Iceworks in Syosset. After the on-ice session, defenseman Travis Hamonic and forward Nino Niederreiter signed autographs and took pictures with fans in the pro shop.
Hamonic, 22, was all smiles following the meet-and-greet with the fans who filled the stands during practice to watch the Sound Tigers.
“It’s awesome,” Hamonic said. “It’s no secret that I enjoy spending time getting to know our fans. I enjoy interacting with the kids. Every time I see a young kid I remember what it felt like to be at that age, and how in awe, in shock, nervous and shy that I was when I’d meet a pro athlete. It’s really important as players that we go out of our way and try to interact with fans and be there for them.”
Domenic Casillo is a first-year season ticket holder, and brought his son, Domenic Jr., to watch the future NHLers and get autographs and photos.
“I’ve been a fan for a long time,” Casillo said. “When I was a kid I used to go down to the Coliseum with friends. Now it’s a father-son thing. We enjoy hockey. We wanted to take some time to hang out with other fans, see the players and have a day together.”
Saturday was a rare opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of the future of the Islanders here on Long Island, and the first opportunity for many to see the eight Sound Tigers rookies.
“It’s nice to see where these guys start and how they rise up through the ranks,” third-year season ticket holder Chris Hammond said. “Aaron Ness looked good out there. I saw number 77, Kirill Kabanov, for the first time. He stands out because he was born after I graduated high school.”
At 20 years old, Kabanov and Niederreiter represent the youngest of the Sound Tigers. Five players in all (Jason Clark, John Persson and Johan Sundstrom are the others) were born in 1992, making them eligible for the American Hockey League for the first time this season.
For those young Prospects and others new to the organization, the event marked the first of what's sure to be many gatherings with Long Island's most faithful: the backbone of the franchise - the Orange and Blue.
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