Fifth annual Islanders Jamboree delights Long Island's youth hockey community
Children from across Long Island play on the same ice as the pros and experience exciting hockey
Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 6:49 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
|Photo gallery: Youth hockey players experience hockey in exclusive opportunity at Nassau Coliseum.
The event featured teams from a dozen local rinks with children aged 4-8 years old playing cross-ice games inside the Coliseum. Every year, this is where excited kids get a chance to play their heroes’ parts.
“It’s exciting for them to get on that ice surface,” Islanders Iceworks coach Vinny Messina said. “The lights are brighter than the rinks they skate in. It’s just a whole different feeling when they get to be the person they make-believe they are on the ice.”
“When they get done looking at the jumbo tron and the seats and everything, they settle in and have a great time,” Messina added.
Devyn Quinones, from Selden, NY, skated out onto the ice and proclaimed that this was his dream, skating where the Islanders call home. Quinones fulfilled it at the age of six.
Five-year-old Noah Zinman, a player for the Freeport Arrows, was thrilled to play with his team at the same arena as his favorite player, Matt Moulson.
“[I like him] because he skates so fast,” Zinman said. “Like me.”
Sunday’s jamboree showed the Islanders commitment to promoting youth hockey on Long Island. This grassroots type of interaction with the community is a fundamental part in building the next generation of passionate Isles fans and connecting kids to the sport of hockey.
“Usually that first team you root for, those first experiences you have, you really tend to be a fan forever of that team,” Messina said. “The closer that they feel to the team, the better.”
For seven-year-old P.J. Schrammel, sitting on the same bench as John Tavares reinforced who his favorite team was.
“Me and my dad like the Islanders a lot,” Schrammel said. “They are my favorite hockey team.”
The Jamboree comes one day after the Islanders hosted the finals of the Steve Linzer tournament for house league players, a chance for squirt, pee-wee and bantam players to also skate at the Coliseum.
Today there were no standings or first-place finishers though. Instead, every kid got to play some fun, safe, recreational hockey, learn some new things on the ice and have an all-around wonderful experience.
“We’re promoting things like teamwork and having fun,” Michelle Winter, Islanders Manager of Amateur Hockey Development said. “That’s what this particular event is about. It’s not about competition. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about just getting out there, getting your skates on, being active for a couple hours and just having fun with your friends on the ice.”
There were a few stumbles and blown tires during the day, but also ton of smiles, laughs and fun had by all.