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Draft Party a Huge Success For Fans

Saturday, 06.23.2012 / 1:44 AM ET / 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.”

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 7 6 5 2 11
K. Okposo 7 1 6 2 7
F. Nielsen 7 3 2 1 5
B. Nelson 7 1 4 -3 5
R. Strome 5 1 3 4 4
A. Quine 7 1 3 2 4
S. Prince 7 3 0 3 3
R. Pulock 4 1 2 -3 3
T. Hickey 7 1 2 -1 3
N. Leddy 7 0 3 3 3
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
T. Greiss 5 2 0 .941 1.94
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