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LIU Calls Islanders Practice Rink Home, Any Chance of Own Barn?



LIU Men's Hockey (Courtesy via LIU Sharks Men's Hockey Twitter)
LIU Men's Hockey (Courtesy via LIU Men's Hockey Twitter)

It’s the halfway mark of the season for Long Island University Men’s and Women’s hockey programs. NYI Hockey Now’s Joshua Linsenberg caught up with the man in charge of Sharks Athletics, LIU Athletics Director Dr. William E. Martinov Jr., for an exclusive interview on the state of LIU Hockey, its future path, and more.

Martinov Jr. was responsible for hiring Coach Brett Riley for LIU’s men’s program and Kelly Nash for LIU’s women’s program.

“I have some buddies from my time at Notre Dame from the hockey team that I knew that I could rely on to get some insight on some candidates. While I was using their expertise, we had some great candidates apply. And at the end of the day, what Brett brought was… he had started a program. He’d already started a program from scratch,” Martinov shared.

“In other words, he had that experience as a young coach to know what it’s like to start from the ground up. And I thought that was a great quality to have. Also, what stood out was his background from his family experience and being involved in the game of hockey his whole life. So Brett brought a great deal to the table, and he’s utilized that since he’s been here. He’s been a great addition.”

Under the direction of Brett Riley, LIU’s men’s program this season has put a record of 6-15-1, while Kelly Nash’s women’s team has gone 14-10-2.

“Brett’s done a great job of getting the right kids here to play, and we appreciate what coach Riley’s done. And Kelly Nash came in over the summer. She brings that national championship-winning competitiveness and experience to the program. I think she’s done a great job of adding to the team that we’ve had. She’s added to it by her coaching, her demeanor, and her ability to translate her championship experience to our kids here,” Martinov said.

Great coaches are essential, but what about facilities for the programs? LIU Hockey has a unique home at Northwell Health Ice Center, the official practice facility of the New York Islanders.

“Right now, we’re working on trying to build some locker rooms over there [at Northwell Health Ice Center] to help make it a more permanent home, but between Northwell and Syosset Ice Works, we’ve had both facilities in use for our teams over the last three years,” Martinov said.

While calling an NHL practice facility home is excellent, the biggest question we always get from readers is about the program’s future.

Now, obviously, there are a lot of young programs out there, and one most closely related to LIU is Arizona State, a team that practiced and played at a rink very much similar to LIU, and now they have their own arena.

So why can’t LIU have its own barn?

“Well, I think anything’s possible. I think we’re trying to build a home at Northwell. But I think what I’ve realized is there’s a lot of interest by people on Long Island for hockey. I mean, is it possible? Sure, but it would take years for that to happen, probably. And I think with our relationship with Northwell, the idea is to build the locker rooms here and to be a great partner with them over the years.

With that being said, that begs the question of LIU having any talks or negotiations of LIU Hockey trying to call the Nassau Coliseum home.

On Thursday morning, news broke that Las Vegas Sands, the casino and resort company, has proposed a formal play to build a privately-funded, multibillion-dollar tourism destination on the site of Nassau Coliseum. Sands officials said the company has secured agreements and is pending approval by the Nassau County legislature.

If the Las Vegas Sands deal does go through, we could still see Nassau Coliseum used as an event and concert venue. If that is so, maybe the current tenants, the Long Island Nets, the NBA G League affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Riptide, a team in the National Lacrosse League, are forced to leave Uniondale.

Could LIU have had a future at the Coliseum before this recent development? Were there talks?

“We did play women’s hockey there a couple of years ago. We played Wisconsin there in 2019. But for the sake of it, Northwell has been a great facility for us. So if it was at Nassau Coliseum, it would probably have to be like a unique event. Maybe like a college showcase or something, but I’m not sure we would just play there in the future unless it was a unique event,” Martinov said.

Besides a new barn, the other big question surrounding LIU Hockey is when the men’s team will join a conference. It seems we’re mighty close to finding out, according to Martinov, and LIU might start their own conference.

“Yeah, I mean, there are always conversations we’ve had different ones, and for the sake of confidentiality, there are teams that are very interested in it, teams not only in the tri-state, region footprint but also across the country, so I think everybody at LIU and others that are looking to create a conference, there are conversations that are going on, I think we feel like we’re close to something,” Martinov said.

“But again, for the sake of those others that are involved, I’ll leave it at that.”