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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 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

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2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 18 19 -6 37
K. Okposo 48 12 25 -9 37
B. Nelson 50 20 11 0 31
F. Nielsen 50 15 16 -2 31
M. Grabovski 50 9 15 1 24
J. Bailey 49 8 15 4 23
A. Lee 50 7 14 0 21
N. Leddy 50 3 17 -12 20
R. Strome 39 5 13 -8 18
N. Kulemin 50 5 9 6 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 13 6 2 .927 2.32
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