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New York Islanders

Banner Time! Islanders Fan Sending Aerial Support to Team in Toronto

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New York Islanders Fans

When the New York Islanders are looking into the Toronto sky they could be in for a big surprise.

One Islanders fan has raised over $3,000 to pay for a plane to fly over the Toronto bubble with a simple message for the team: “Let’s Go Islanders.” Matthew Kammerer, a longtime fan from East Meadow, NY, wanted to put a more personal touch on his support for the Islanders while they competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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“It just came to me that I wish there was a way to show support to these guys outside of (social media),” Kammerer explained in a phone interview with NYI Hockey Now. “I said, I wonder if I can do something physical where instead of looking down at their phones on the way back from morning skate. Instead, they look up in the sky and they see something that really pumps them up.

“Then basically it just took off.”

New York Islanders FanThe die-hard Islanders fan turned to fellow fans looking for donations to help pull the idea off. He created a Go Fund Me page on Wednesday, more concerned about what would happen if he didn’t reach his goal of $3,587.

What happened next shocked Kammerer.

His idea quickly picked up steam on social media and 24 hours after he first started the Go Fund Me he had already reached his goal, and then some. At the time of publication, Kammer had raised $4,317.

Any money over the original goal will go towards extending the flight time of the banner.

“I’m overwhelmed by the response,” Kammerer said. “The Islander fan is a special breed. On the Go Fund Me page, I had had a William Shakespeare quote. … ‘Though he is but small, he is mighty.’ That always reminds me of the Islanders fan base. I like to say we have the highest passion per capita in the National Hockey League. It might not be one of the largest fan bases in the world, but it’s one of the fiercest.”

The effort by the fans hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players up in Toronto either.

The New York Islanders have seen the deluge of support on social media. Part of the NHL’s efforts to make the empty arenas in the hub cities feel more like home has been to put fan messages of support on the video boards inside the building.

The players also have plenty of downtime to see what the fans are doing on social media.

“That’s awesome,” Ryan Pulock said about the banner fans plan to fly over Toronto. “We’ve seen (the support) on social media and stuff. You see videos that people are posting whether it be in their living room cheering or whatnot. We have a pretty special fan base and they let you hear it when we’re doing well. It’s pretty special to have their support and it’s awesome to see everything online.”

Even Islanders coach Barry Trotz has taken notice of the support during the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s postseason. The Islanders bench boss thanked the fans unprompted on Monday during his Zoom call with reporters.

“I know our fans on Long Island have been fantastic sending us a lot of social media stuff,” Trotz said about the support. “We can really get behind that. Our players are looking at that, so just want to thank them for that.”

As for Kammerer, a fan of the New York Islanders since 1993 and a longtime usher at the Nassau Coliseum, he has already been in touch with a company up in Canada to get the puck rolling. Kammer will examine a long-range forecast to select the best day to have the plane fly over Toronto, though he is leaning towards a game day in the Second Round or in the First Round if their series with the Washington Capitals goes beyond four games.

Trotz’s Impact Goes Beyond X’s and O’s for Islanders | NYHN+

And Kammerer hopes to even get the Islanders involved and have a team social media person capture the banner as it flew overhead, or have it seen on the TV broadcast. “Who knows, maybe it ends up on NBC or something, that would be the ultimate,” he said.

Several teams have had signs of support put up in the hub cities. Most notable is the Montreal Canadiens billboard up in Toronto.

However, Kammerer’s idea isn’t about trolling anyone. It’s simply about supporting his favorite team on their quest for a fifth Stanley Cup.

“The core of this is positivity,” he said. “Supporting the team. Having an outlet for the support that we would normally give that we’re not able to give. It’s something physical that the players can see and maybe get a little juice out of.”

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

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Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.


Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game

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The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+

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Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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