I.C.E. TOUR: COMMITTING TO THE ISLAND
Players spend time during the summer spreading hockey across Long Island.
Wednesday, 07.28.2010 / 8:57 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
Throughout the year, Islanders players and Sparky visit local schools, youth hockey organizations and hospitals to brighten each child’s day. This summer Josh Bailey, Andrew MacDonald, Blake Comeau, Kyle Okposo and Jack Hillen have all made appearances at a variety of different summer camps as part of the I.C.E. Tour.
Defenseman Jack Hillen visited the Brookhaven Country Day Camp on Tuesday, July 27 and he will visit the Hofstra Summer Camp later in the week.
“It’s been a good day,” Hillen said on Tuesday. “I went to the beach and signed some autographs for the kids. It was good. It was like a day camp. I had a lot of fun there. I think it’s just something that I’m in an opportunity to do with my profession is to be able to give happiness or joy to peoples lives and when you can, I think it’s important to do that.”
Islanders forward Kyle Okposo agreed with Hillen. While on Long Island he made appearances at the Ivy League Day Camp and the Hofstra Summer Camp.
“It is very important for us to give back to the community in which we play,” Okposo said. “It is also very important to help in the process of creating new fans. Coming back during the summer is one way in which we are able to get out across Long Island and do this.”
Okposo and the other Islanders who helped out with the I.C.E Tour this summer all made appearances at the Iceworks summer hockey camps.
“The mission of Iceworks hockey camp is to create a fun environment where the kids coming to camp work hard on all aspects of hockey, including power skating, puck skills and game concepts,” said Iceworks co-hockey director Mike Lang.
“The kids were thrilled to have the players on the ice with them,” Lang continued. “It was with out a doubt, the highlight of the week for most of the kids.”
While the kids all had some fun, Lang shared one story about Okposo’s visit that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.
“The best thing was when Kyle Okposo was doing a shooting drill. We had kids who thought he would score line up on one blue line and the kids who thought he wouldn’t score on the other blue line. Whoever was wrong had to do two laps around the rink,” Lang explained. “It was a very cute moment.”
“Just a FYI… He didn’t score,” Lang said.
Islanders forward Josh Bailey really enjoys helping out at the hockey camp because he knows that he is a role model for so many children on Long Island.
“Not too long ago we were in the same position as these kids going to camps and hockey clinics. It is nice to be able to give the kids some positive reinforcement and allow them to pursue the game that we all love to play.”
While Bailey and Andrew MacDonald were on Long Island this summer, they visited Iceworks as well as the Young People’s Day Camp and the Buckley Day Camp. Both players reinforced the love of giving back to the children in the community.
“We had a great week back on Long Island,” MacDonald said. “From visiting the summer camps and playing street hockey to hitting the ice with the hockey campers to signing autographs at the team store we were able to meet a lot of fans and along the way I am sure we created some new Islander fans. We look forward to seeing everyone down at the Coliseum with the upcoming season.”
During the week of the Islanders prospect Mini Camp, Blake Comeau made appearances in Melville at the Crestwood Country Day School and the Driftwood Day Camp.
“This is my third summer coming back to help out with appearances,” Comeau said. “It is so important to be involved with the team all year long. You always want the team to be on the minds of the fans and it is important for us to get out and meet the fans.”
The Crestwood Country Day School’s Summer Program events director, Brian Iken, was happy the Islanders I.C.E Tour stopped by.
“Blake was very laid back and easily approachable for the younger kids, and showed great interest in answering any and all questions proposed,” Iken said.
“I think it is important for kids to be able to identify with the players of professional sports teams, especially if it’s their first real exposure to professional hockey,” Iken said. “Since we are all Long Islanders, I feel that having Islanders helps to expose our kids to the joys and excitement of hockey, and helps them to connect to with the team.”
Comeau’s visit was enjoyed by all, but it also helped promote the Crestwood mission.
“Our mission is to provide the children of Crestwood the best summer experience possible, as we work to build lifelong skills, friendships, confidence and competence,” Iken said. “We pride ourselves in providing a well-rounded summer program that not only provides a ton of fun but also helps build strong character, such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, humbleness, sincerity, reliability, unselfishness and empathy,” Iken continued.
While Comeau was at Crestwood, he signed autographs and took pictures with the campers who were between four and 14-years-old. Most of the children were entertained by Sparky.
“While the younger children were more into seeing Sparky, many of the older kids who are Islander fans were excited to see him,” Iken said. “Some were so excited that they tried to get his autograph multiple times.”
“I believe that the older children enjoyed meeting Blake, as they were able to understand who he was, and how much of an important role he plays for the Islanders,” Iken said.