The NHL team is playing its first season at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn after 43 years at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, which is now closed and undergoing renovations. What was a short car ride for many fans has turned into a longer train ride, often with a transfer at Jamaica.
While the Islanders will remain in Brooklyn long term, the team will maintain its presence in Nassau County by adopting the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow as its new practice facility next season. Players got a taste of what’s to come as the Islanders held their first official team practice there on Jan. 20.
The former Twin Rinks facility in the west end of Eisenhower Park has a new name and a new tenant. The facility will continue to host youth hockey games and open skates, but now will be anchored by a professional hockey team.
Already, the two rinks have been renamed. The Blue Rink is now the Islanders Rink, and the Red Rink is the Sound Tigers Rink, for the Islander top minor league affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn. At practice last week, the Islanders started out on the blue side, before shirting the red side after an hour for power play practice. “It’s a perfect facility,” Islander head coach Jack Capuano said. “You’ve got two sheets [of ice].” You can do a lot with that.”
The team’s four Stanley Cup banners hang in the blue side, and the banners honoring retired players are in the other rink. The building also now has an Islanders team store. A state-of-the-art locker room will be constructed for the players utilizing existing space.
General Manager Garth Snow said his coaches have told him that Northwell Health Ice Center will be one of the best practice facilities in the league. “It’s going to be really fun for them to call a place like this home,” he said of his players, who have had to adjust with a change in routine this season with the move to Barclay’s.