I did not grow up a hockey fan. In fact, where I grew up in Oklahoma, nobody watched hockey. When I moved to Cleveland at 16, hockey was popular, but I already had my sports interests booked. While I was in college near Columbus, The Blue Jackets arrived in the NHL and I attended a few games. Then, when I moved to New York City, it seemed like everybody loves hockey.
I admit, I’ve been a part-time hockey fan since I’ve lived in NYC. I watch the NHL during the playoffs and I watch hockey during the Olympics, but that’s about it. I love watching live hockey, but since I don’t know all the rules, it’s hard to catch up.
Like most dads, I want my kids to have more experiences than I had growing up. I want them to be more well rounded and appreciate a wider range of things. Watching my kids take in something new is one of my favorite aspects of fatherhood. My 11-year-old son had never been to a hockey game and since I want to give him all the options, we jumped in the car and drove out to the UBS Arena to watch the New York Islanders take on the Buffalo Sabres.
Our first stop inside the USB Arena was at the Isles Lab. I’ve visited many club stores at other sporting venues and the Isles Lab is by far one of the best home team stores I’ve perused. Not only can visitors find a wide variety of apparel and toys to buy, but you can also take photos with the four Stanley Cups on display.
The must-have thing inside the Isles Lab is you can have anything monogrammed. From jerseys and hoodies to hats and t-shirts. My son picked up a hockey jersey and had his name and number monogrammed on it. It’s now his favorite article of clothing. It turned out so nice that I’m going to pick one up for myself the next time I visit. The whole process is easy. You pick out what you want monogrammed and take it to the counter. You’ll pay for it and an employee will give you a number. The process lasts about 20 minutes, depending on how busy they are. Once the purchase is ready, you’ll receive a text and you can pick it up. My son’s jersey was ready before the game and he got to rock his new Islanders’ apparel from the start all the way through the next morning.
For me, it’s all about my kids. I want them to enjoy life to the fullest. Taking my son to his first hockey game and picking up an amazing piece of memorabilia was another great memory locked away. The jersey and the memory will last forever. One day, when my son is older and unpacking his things from his childhood, he’s going to come across that jersey. I hope he remembers what a beautiful day it was and knows that it meant more to me than it did to him.
Now, to make his siblings Islanders’ fans.
Tips for going to your first Islanders game:
Purchase parking tickets ahead of time. Makes it easy to roll up and scan.
Arrive at least an hour early to visit Isles Lab.
Visit the booth outside section 109. You can get a “first-timers” certificate for free.
The walk from the parking lot to the arena is long, but doable. If there’s a long line to take the shuttle bus, go ahead and trek it.
Stay till the end. Tell yourself it’ll be along night and stay till the end. Don’t leave early. Enjoy the wait getting out of the parking lot. There are worst things than being stuck in your car after a fun night cheering on the Islanders.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Islanders for this story. The experience and words are my own.