Even with a disappointing outcome to Saturdays game, the day was anything but a disappointment. With the Saturday matinee, my wife and I decided that this would be a great opportunity to bring my daughter to her first NHL game. While she is not a big hockey fan, we felt that she is generally a fun, easy going child so she would have a good time at an event. Since she is only two we knew this was a risk but it ended up being a fantastic day. I hope that I can use the space here to encourage others to bring young fans to support this hockey team.
Honestly, the part we were most worried about was the train ride. Luckily the LIRR has added trains to Brooklyn for events at the Barclays Center. We were able to take a train from Hicksville straight to Atlantic Terminal Station. In addition to a Ronkonkoma, and Farmingdale train, trains from Babylon will also make trips to and from Brooklyn for Islanders games. After our arrival in Brooklyn we took a walk towards the front of the train for an easy exit from the station. We were able to follow the crowd from the station across Atlantic Ave to the entrance of the Barclays Center without any incident.
Since our daughter is only 34 inches tall we were fortunate enough not to need a third ticket for the game. I was able to carry her through the metal detector without any hoops to jump through. While the official policy, is that no food or drink is allowed in the building, security took only a passing glance at our diaper bag. In no way, did we take advantage of this situation, we just made sure we had plenty of snacks for our daughter to get through the game. As many of you know it toddlers have no real sense of what is going on around them sometimes, as we got off the escalator my daughter immediately stopped in the middle of the concourse. I’m thankful nobody gave us a real problem with that.
In a day, full of positives there were only two causes of concern for us during the day, the first one was the Islanders entrance. The loud and dark introductions caught her off guard and she was scared until things settled down. She eventually settled down once I had her, and the lights turned back on. Once the game started she was interested in everything going on. We had a little extra room due to some empty seats in the area. This allowed us to give her, her own seat which meant she had some space to walk between my wife and me.
She was very interested in everything going on around the game. The biggest moment of her day came with the arrival of Sparky on the scoreboard. It was at that moment, I had new appreciation for the dragon. For years, he was just a reminder of a crappy Arena Football team. Seeing my daughters excited for Sparky made me realize that I may have been too hard on him. It is good to see a family friendly character represent the Islanders even if it is a dragon. After a period of hockey, we made our way to the Swag Shop. Due to it being a day game there were plenty of other kids at the game. This encouraged the Swag Shop to have a sale on all kids apparel. They did not have anything in toddlers’ pink which was a disappointment and we left the crowded shop with nothing. Outside of the shop we were able to get her first game certificate. This is a great free souvenir for anyone’s first game.
After the game we made our way downstairs and out of the building. There were plenty of police making it easy to cross the street as they were holding traffic for us to get to the train station. The train back to Hicksville was very crowded (which was the second negative of the day) but thankfully there are still some considerate people left and my wife and daughter were able to get a seat. We arrived after our one seat ride at Hicksville approximately an hour after the game ended.
This was a great family experience for us all. While I’m unsure of the long-term effects of going to the game, I was given an emphatic yes, when I asked my daughter if she had a good time. In addition, when I asked her if she liked hockey I also received a positive response. I know we will no longer hesitate to bring our daughter to Islander games in the future. I still would be careful on picking the right moments to go, but for a matinee, there is no reason not to take the entire family.