The New York Islanders hosted a fun, free and informative clinic for young hockey players on Sunday, introducing those of all age and skill levels to street hockey, which differs from traditional hockey, as it is played on a pavement or multiuse surface, rather than ice, and with balls instead of pucks.
At Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, the Northwell Health Ice Center on Merrick Avenue is an official training location for the New York Islanders, as well as a state-of-the-art facility that boasts two NHL-sized hockey rinks, as well as one outdoor rink.
Ann Rina, the executive directors of community relations for the Islanders said once a year, USA Hockey holds “Try Hockey Weekend.”
“That was last week,” she told the Herald at Sunday’s event. “This week, we decided to hold the street hockey clinic. We invited one our alumni, Matt Moulson, down to help us out. And it’s really about introducing the community to the game of hockey. Street hockey is a much easier pathway to start out the game.
“It gives the opportunity for the kids to you know, put a stick in their hands, play out on the rink itself, see if they like the game,” she added, “and hoping with the experience they have today, it’s something they want to continue with.”
The community relations staff, alongside Islanders alumni Matt Moulson, was out on the rink with young hockey players, for an hour-long clinic on Sunday morning.
The facility at Eisenhower is well utilized by the Islanders for similar events, Rina explained, and later that day, there was also a “Try Hockey” event, but inside the facility on the ice.
“For us, it’s about getting out throughout the metro-New York area, and showing the game,” she said, “whether it’s the street version or the on ice version. It’s how do we put sticks into hands, and let kids try the game.”
“It’s always great when you can come back, spend time with Islanders fans, and help grow the games and do things that they have fun doing, which is playing hockey,” Moulson said.
The event was held in partnership with Franklin Sports, who provided the equipment the players were using.
Sunday’s clinic was the first step in getting kids on the rink, Rina said. The Islanders also offers 6-week units in various locations throughout Long Island. The hockey organization partners with community centers and PAL leagues, which gives those interested in the sport more organized play. Come spring, there’s an actual league that parents can sign their kids up for, allowing them to put the skills they learned in the clinics to the test.
A clinic just began on Nov. 11 in East Hills at the Sid Jacobson JCC Street Hockey, and will run through Dec. 16. For more, visit NHL.com/islanders/community/street-hockey.