FANS PACK ICEWORKS FOR FINAL SCRIMMAGE
By Jason Lockhart
No spots were to be had in the Islanders Iceworks parking lot with a capacity crowd on hand to watch the Islanders prospects wrap up their development camp Saturday with a Team Blue 4-3 scrimmage victory.
Frans Nielsen broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period to seal the 4-3 victory for Blue, which won two of the three scrimmages played at this week's camp.
Goalie invite Mike Chiasson hung tough late in the game stopping a Ryan O'Marra turnaround shot and a Brian Day rebound chance to protect the slim lead.
Following Saturday's scrimmage, first round picks O'Marra, Kyle Okposo and Islanders Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais signed autographs for fans. Sparky and the Ice Girls were also in attendance as they thanked fans for coming , and excited the packed Syosset rink.
"You couldn't ask for a better Saturday morning with the kids," said Shawn Cashman, who brought his daughter and son to the scrimage. "It's nice and cool in here and we were able to see some energetic hockey in the middle of the summer. It was a great break from the norm."
Saturday was the last day of a camp that gave Islanders prospects an opportunity to take to the ice during the summer, learn about responsible nutrition habits and meet the other young players on the team.
The prospects were put to the test from Monday through Wednesday participating in on- and off-ice exercises and psych tests to help them prep for their training for the rest of the summer and next season. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were highlighted by scrimmages with Team Grey winning Game One and Team Blue taking the final two contests.
"The camp was awesome," said Okposo, who attended his first camp. "These were some of the best guys I've ever met. I'm really excited about being part of the Islanders organization."
There were high levels of intensity, skill and professionalism displayed by the young players on the ice, but there was still a youthful and laid back atmosphere off the ice and in the locker room.
"Everyone here is serious about their hockey career," said Denver recruit Rhett Rakhshani. "But everyone was having a great time because we all love hockey."
After a long day of training, the players were treated each evening to various extracurricular activities such as paintball, bowling, movies and Mets and Yankees games.
"The extra stuff was unbelievable," said Okposo. "It was a lot fun going paintballing and watching the Yankees play. I didn't really expect it until I looked at our schedules."
Many of the prospects were attending their first camp and didn't know what to expect, but they came out better and smarter players because of it.
"The camp was great," added Rakhshani. "It was a high level of hockey. When I go back to where I was skating before, in my case California, I'm going to be pushing myself harder, so that when I come back to next year's camp it will be easier to adapt to the hockey."
For some players such as Campoli, this was their last development camp.
"I enjoy coming to these camps," said Campoli. "Being one of the older guys this year I was able to share my experiences with the younger guys. All-in-all it was a successful camp. We got what we wanted to get out of it."
Some of the players at this camp will return for Islanders training camp in Nova Scotia scheduled for September. The others will join their junior or college teams for the start of their 2006-2007 seasons. Either way they'll be better hockey players on and off the ice.