Islanders Practice Outdoors at Grant Park

The Islanders practiced at a local outdoor rink in Hewlett on Monday morning.

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 3:05 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Islanders Practice Outdoors at Grant Park
The Islanders practiced at a local outdoor rink in Hewlett on Monday morning.
Click here for a full gallery from today's outdoor practice.

Forty-one nights a season, Long Island comes out to Nassau Coliseum to scream, shout and cheer on the Islanders. Fans take the parkways and expressways from all over the Island to pack the stands at the old barn.

On Monday morning, the Islanders had a chance to explore the community that so staunchly supports them, holding an outdoor practice at Grant Park in Hewlett. The ice held up well in the 30-degree temperatures, allowing the players and coaches to practice just as they would at the Coliseum.

On a cool, clear morning, the sun and glare off the ice presented the day’s only challenge, but players countered with eyeblack and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov relied on Russian ingenuity, donning sunglasses underneath his goalie mask.

“It was fun,” Nabokov said. “The only thing was the sun was so bright that the glare was huge, so that's why I needed [the sunglasses]. It was fun and a nice change of atmosphere. Anytime we can support the county, we love to do that. And for us it’s a nice change of scenery from Syosset and the Coliseum.”

Monday’s outdoor practice wasn’t the first this season for the Islanders, who’d laced their skates outside in January at Yankee Stadium, but it was the first on Long Island. As grand as the spectacle was in the Bronx, the chance to support the community in which they live and work had an impact on the players.

“It's important to get out in the community,” Travis Hamonic said. “As an organization I think we do a great job of that and I think quite honestly we all enjoy it. It's part of our responsibility as athletes and it's something we enjoy doing. Whenever we can try to promote the game of hockey on Long Island it's an important thing.”

The practice kicked off two days of youth hockey clinics hosted by Islanders coaches on the outdoor ice. Nassau County native and CNBC contributor Joe Terranova said that this kind of community engagement goes a long way to strengthening the fan base, as well as raising the profile of the rink.

“I’m incredibly confident about working with Nassau County to restore the vibrancy of this facility,” Terranova said. “Ultimately, to me, it is the premier outdoor facility on Long Island. I can’t thank the Islanders enough for coming down here today. Hopefully it’s the beginning of something where the guys will come down and enjoy the facility.”

Several Islanders were already acquainted with the ice; both Head Coach Jack Capuano and Nabokov frequent the rink with their sons. Most players didn’t know about Grant Park before today, but Hamonic said it was one of the best outdoor rinks he’s played on – and the first that was fully equipped with glass.

“It’s definitely a full rink and a neat experience,” Hamonic said. “Hopefully people start coming and kids enjoy it. This is hockey at its purest form. Most memories we have of hockey go back to playing outdoors and just going out there and enjoying the game with no pressure. That's when you can have the most fun.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 75 34 40 -1 74
R. Strome 74 15 31 19 46
K. Okposo 53 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 74 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 75 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 69 23 16 14 39
J. Bailey 63 15 23 6 38
J. Boychuk 65 8 25 10 33
T. Hamonic 65 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 71 10 19 16 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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