On Friday, the New York Islanders did not hold their usual morning practice. Instead, the Islanders took the ice at UBS Arena for the first time since Apr. 29 for a Blue and White scrimmage, with season ticket holders in attendance.
Although not a packed house like we will see on Oct. 13 against the Florida Panthers for opening night, the lower bowl was full of fans singing the Josh Bailey theme song, celebrating with the ‘Yes Yes Yes’ chants, and more as Team Blue came away with a 5-2 win over Team White.
While the score did not matter, playing hockey again in front of the New York Islanders faithful was exciting.
“It’s just good to get more kind of game action, and obviously, we’ve had a lot of time off. I think everybody’s played one preseason game and a scrimmage, and that’s sort of our third scrimmage now, so I think it’s starting to flow a little better, and guys are feeling better on the ice with the timing and the structure and everything,” Matt Martin shared. And then you throw some fans in there that’s always makes it more exciting and get some energy in the building. So it was a lot of fun.”
Despite how the first season at UBS Arena turned out, there were plenty of fans that turned out and continued their support until the end of the season. Back in 2020-21, after the Islanders were eliminated in Game 7 of the semi-finals by the Tampa Bay Lightning, fans gathered at the Republic Airport in Farmingdale to welcome their team home.
The Islanders are celebrating their 50th season, and if you ever speak with alumni from the Dynasty years, to even the players from the late 90s, and early 2000s to now, the fan base is always at the top of their list for what made time, makes time on the island special.
“Yeah, it’s great. I think the fans are a big part of who we are, what we are. We play for them,” Noah Dobson shared. “So for us to put on a scrimmage for them like this, it’s great and obviously a good opening to get everyone excited for the season coming up here shortly.”
Playing in front of the fans is an awesome experience, shared Oliver Wahlstrom.
“That was awesome. Obviously, you know, the crowds a huge, huge help for us during the season,” Wahlstrom said. “We build off of them, and just to have a couple of them here today, it was pretty,y fun and everyone’s getting their legs back under them.”
“So it’s been a good few days.”
Although head coach Lane Lambert has been around New York Islanders fans since he was brought in with Barry Trotz back in 2018, he spoke about the fans publically for the first time Friday.
“It was excellent,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “You know it’s nice to get that boost. We’re in the middle of a good solid eight days of camp, and it was nice to get a change of scenery and get a boost from our fans.”
Following the scrimmage, the New York Islanders held a “Meet & Greet” where fans could line up and wait to take pictures and get autographs for their favorite New York Islanders.
Making a core memory. pic.twitter.com/920o15UHjV
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 1, 2022
In this video is three-year-old Liam Levy. He has been a huge Islanders fan since the day he was born, his father Mike Levy shared with NYI Hockey Now. Literally the day he was born, the Islanders game was playing on the hospital television.
“Liam wanted to meet his favorite players, Mat Barzal and Noah Dobson,” Levy shared. “Fortunately Liam got to meet Dobson, for a chance to say ‘Dobby, you’re my favorite!'”
Because of COVID-19, fans have not had the experience of meeting players for a couple of years, and having the opportunity to do so on Friday meant the world.
“Having not been able to see any practices or meet the players since 2019, tonight was such a treat for a fan like myself. It’s so important to know your players because it makes unforgettable memories, and you feel you get to know them personally, which makes the passion for the fandom that much stronger,” Kim Miosa, otherwise known as IslesGirl3, shared with NYI Hockey Now. “You cheering for those players on the ice means that much more when you’ve made a connection like today.”
“These signatures and pictures mean the world, and it’s a constant reminder of why I cheer for this team and elevates the passion I will have every game. Hockey is what gives me so much happiness in my life, and events like tonight are so appreciated.”
Another die-hard fan, Thomas McMahon, told NYI Hockey Now about his Friday experience.
“It was great to be back at UBS again,” McMahon said. “Very cool to see some of the new faces like Romanov and Räty on Islanders ice for the first time.”
“To top it off, I got to chat with my favorite player Mat Barzal. Oct. 13th can’t come soon enough!”