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Draft Party a Huge Success For Fans

Saturday, 06.23.2012 / 1:44 AM / News
By Michelle Gearrity
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Draft Party a Huge Success For Fans
Islanders forward Matt Martin signs autographs for fans during Friday's Draft Party at Nassau Coliseum (Getty Images)

More than 9,000 fans came out to Nassau Coliseum Friday night, braving tornado warnings and hail storms to celebrate the hope of next year’s NHL season on Long Island. The doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and fans had two hours before the big draft announcement to enjoy the many attractions located where the ice normally lay, including a Ferris wheel, Ice Tour inflatables, video game tournaments and street hockey exhibitions. The energy in the building was palpable.

“It’s almost like the atmosphere of a game,” said longtime fan Martin Bush. “Everyone’s walking around excited awaiting the draft and enjoying all that there is to do.”

One of the biggest crowd pleasers were the tours given inside the Islanders locker room. Thousands of fans walked the very halls that the players make their way through on game days before stepping onto the ice.

“I thought it was really cool to see where they get ready and prepared for games and where they go when they get hurt,” 13-year-old Domenic Rizzotti said. “Also seeing all the plaques honoring past players and the jerseys of current players was really an experience.”

Many fans also stopped by the American Red Cross blood drive which started at noon and lasted eight full hours, through the majority of the Draft Party. Over 275 pints of blood were collected, shattering the team’s previous record.

“I’m a new season ticket holder and I came to the draft looking forward to seeing what the Islanders are doing this year and looking forward to meeting some players,” Ron Mattili said.

Players were available to take pictures and sign autographs with fans at various locations throughout the arena. The list of targets included Islanders stars and top prospects Matt Moulson, Matt Martin, Ryan Strome, Nino Niederreiter, Casey Cizikas and Calvin de Haan, among others.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” 12-year-old Jared Levin said as he was itching to hear who would be the Islanders pick. “The rides are cool. I went on the slide and met a majority of the players here.”

As it got closer to the Islanders first-round pick, fans turned their attention to the scoreboard, lowered down to eye level to watch as Islanders General Manager Garth Snow announced that Griffin Reinhart would be the newest member of Long Island’s team.

Fans were thrilled with the addition of the solid defenseman from Western Canada who is sure to make an impact sooner than later.

“I think Reinhart was a great selection,” Bruce Zirpoli, a fan not much older than Reinhart, said. “You can never go wrong with a strong defensive player.”

Also thought to be a smart move by fans, the Islanders traded their 2013 second-round pick for veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from the Anaheim Ducks.

Between the Islanders top draft pick, their shrewd trade decision and numerous attractions around Nassau Coliseum, fans considered the Draft Party to be a huge success.

“It was an unbelievable night, there was so much energy,” said Jonathan Bush. “Everyone had a great time and I had an absolute blast.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 46 21 24 -2 45
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 46 8 25 16 33
B. Nelson 46 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 46 9 16 4 25
J. Boychuk 36 4 18 15 22
J. Bailey 34 8 13 8 21
N. Leddy 46 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 46 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 40 13 5 7 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 25 9 0 .910 2.41
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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