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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 / 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 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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