Instead of seeing the New York Islanders take over the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park, a group of future hockey stars put on their skates and took to the ice.
The Islanders, continuing a tradition started 13 years ago, held their annual Islanders Jamboree at the rink, welcoming more than 350 kids to have a day of hockey-filled fun.
“We had teams from all over Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and Manhattan,” Jocelyne Cummings, director of amateur hockey development for the New York Islanders, said. “We take a sheet of ice, split it into three rinks and it’s a marathon of hockey.”
The jamboree, held at Eisenhower Park on Sunday, Nov. 24, featured 81 games. For nine hours, the kids had the opportunity to play against peers who they might not normally face.
The games lasted 15 minutes each. When the buzzer went off, the teams faced new opponents, promoting the raw fun of hockey right on Long Island.
“It’s a great way to give back to our younger generation of being grassroots,” Cummings said. “Being an NHL club, you want to continuously grow the game. It’s the game we love so much. It’s a way to get everyone in our market in one place with the team we love.”
The team also sponsors the New York Islanders High School Hockey League, with teams consisting of players from all of Long Island, as well as the P.A.L Junior Islanders.
“At this young age, they’re still learning,” Cummings said. “You’re taking away the competition and that you have to win or if you’re losing, you’re going to be sad. It’s about great sportsmanship, loving the game and celebrating the game that they’re playing and learning.”