As more than 500 runners took part in the “Race to the Rink” 5K event on Sunday morning, Islanders legend Bryan Trottier greeted runners and fans outside UBS Arena and shared an optimistic feeling on the current Islanders team that is battling to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” Trottier told WFAN.com at the Islanders’ community event to benefit Easter Seals New York. “Once you get there, that’s time for the goaltenders to shine and your special teams. Everybody wants to have that playoff enthusiasm and find the level that’s needed. Anything can happen and we’re just going to be the biggest cheerleaders they have. We’re feeling the energy.”
Trottier has been an ambassador for the Islanders’ 50th anniversary season and has been to UBS Arena many times, including his recent Legends Night when fans received a Bryan Trottier bobblehead. The Hockey Hall of Famer and six-time Stanley Cup Champion loves the Islanders’ new home, and the fact that they can host special events like Sunday’s 5K race.
“I think the ownership and the organization have done a wonderful job bringing an energy and a spirit to UBS and this Belmont area,” said Trottier, whose No. 19 hangs from the UBS Arena rafters. “I think the fans appreciate it. The enthusiasm and the energy is constantly growing. We feel it and I think it’s fantastic.”
The Islanders are playing their second season at their new home next to Belmont Park, after a storied run at Nassau Coliseum (and a brief detour to Brooklyn). It was a long and winding road for the Islanders to find a new home on Long Island, and the dream was realized when UBS Arena opened for business last season.
And now, the goal is to create new memories at their new state-of-the-art home to add to the many great moments at “The Barn.”
“I think they’re really taking on an identity here and making it their own,” said Trottier. “I think that Long Island has embraced this. I’m just loving it. We want the atmosphere to be like the old Coliseum, so bring that energy and it makes the players play that much better.”
The Islanders’ 50th Anniversary celebration has been a season-long opportunity for the organization and the fans to reminisce about all of the great memories in the team’s storied history. And for Trottier, there are obviously some years that stand out.
“Obviously the 80’s were a lot of fun for a group of us,” said Trottier, who played on all four Islanders Stanley Cup championship teams and was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs MVP in 1980. “For Long Island and the fans, they certainly let us know that they appreciated us and we sure appreciated them. We shared that history with everybody but they’re on to something special right now. We want to cheer them on encourage them and be a part of all this new energy.”
Islanders Country is certainly hoping that the presence of greats like Bryan Trottier all season long will rub off on the current Islanders, especially if they can punch their ticket to this year’s playoffs.
“Race to the Rink” Recap:
Over 500 runners took part in Sunday’s “Race to the Rink” 5K event outside of UBS Arena. The race was supported by the Islanders Children’s Foundation and proceeds went to Easter Seals New York.
“We’re just so thrilled to be here,” said Susan Walsh from Easter Seals’ parent company, The Fedcap Group. “We’ve had this partnership with the New York Islanders for the whole season.”
Conditions for the race were terrific on Sunday morning, with bright sunny skies over Belmont Park. Many of the runners were wearing Islanders gear, and there was a sense of pride for the community as the runners took part in an event that raised a lot of money for a great cause.
“It’s a great feeling,” said runner Johnathan Rizzi. “To be able to give back to the community and see something that I love, the Islanders, is partnering with them and help do that is great all around.”
“Fundraisers like these are a great way to get a lot of people involved and aware of different causes, and it’s a fun excuse to get outside,” said runner Mina Maurizi.
Brandin Eagle was the winner with a time of 19 minutes, four seconds. Brian Wysocki finished second at 20:08, and Eric Frishberg came in third at 24:52.
The women’s winner was Samantha Ramos, whose time of 23:51 bested runner-up Anna Mercatili (24:25) and third-place finisher Jennifer Tully (24:32).
Follow Peter Schwartz on Twitter: @SchwartzSports
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