Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 07 September 2012 00:00
The team, following its last Stanley Cup title in 1984, relocated to several different practice rinks throughout Long Island but hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of those Cantiague teams since.
Islanders Pro Shop Manager Tim Murray knows all about those four historical seasons, having worked at the Cantiague Park Pro Shop from 1980-84 while attending nearby C.W. Post University.
In addition to holding practices at Cantiague, the team would also host a majority of its functions at the rink – a significant exposure opportunity for young hockey fans in Nassau County.
“The team used to host training camp, rookie games, prospect games [at Cantiague] and back then the Islanders used to play the Rangers, the Hartford Whalers, the Devils. They’d bus in and the Islanders’ prospects would play the prospects of those other teams,” said Murray.
Aspiring hockey players from the area now have another chance to experience the benefits of having an affiliation with a pro hockey club at their home rink.
“From the Islanders’ standpoint, we look at Nassau County being our home base. Nassau County’s hockey program boasts about 600 boys and girls that are registered to play in their hockey programs. Now we partner up for them and we give them a professional pro shop, which they haven’t had since those Cup runs,” Murray added.
In addition to its new team store (located inside the pro shop at Cantiague Park Ice Rink at 480 West John Street in Hicksville), the Islanders plan to host clinics with professional players and coaches throughout the year, including one during the store’s grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 11:30 a.m. With the rink’s recent renovation, which included new boards, glass and lighting, young skaters now have a premier ice hockey facility close to home.
“As part of this grand opening, we’re bringing down a player and one of our coaches and we’re going to give them a clinic. They’re going to get the advantage, the kids in these programs, that several times a year, the Islanders players and coaching staff will get involved with clinics for the children of Nassau County,” Murray explained.
Though the National Hockey League and its players are currently working toward a new collective bargaining agreement in order to avoid a lockout for the upcoming season, the Islanders have shown a commitment to their fans and the hundreds of aspiring young hockey players nearby.
“It’s just another way, besides offering the services that come with skate sharpening and having equipment right there at the rink with that kind of convenience, that the team is reaching out in its grassroots efforts to the kids who play hockey in Nassau County,” Murray said.
For more information on the Islanders team store or the Cantiague Park Ice Rink, call (516) 571-7056.