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New York Islanders Have Roots in the Isles of Malta

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Dec 17, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; New York Islanders fans react to a goal by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) (not pictured) in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; New York Islanders fans react to a goal by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) (not pictured) in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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By now you’ve all realized what lengths we New York Islanders fans will go to for our team. From tracking the team plane to going on trips to catch a road game, we’re there. My story as a fan is a little unusual but typically Islander.

My name is Rebecca, I’m 18 years old and I was born and raised on a subtropical group of islands known as the Maltese Islands, just south of Italy. Quite an unconventional setting for a New York Islanders fan, let alone a hockey fan, wouldn’t you say?

The problem for me is the time change. Here in Malta, we’re six hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. So the 7:00 pm starts are 1:00 am starts for me. I usually watch the game the following day but it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve stayed up to watch my team especially during playoff season.

My dad grew up in New York in the early 80’s, a time we Islanders fans know as the glory days. As a kid he watched the New York Islanders hoist four consecutive Stanley cups and it was more than enough to make him a fan for life.

After moving here my dad remained a die-hard fan and passed it on to me. We watch every single game together through NHL.com and to this very day he still shows me videos of moments like Bob Nystrom’s overtime goal in 1980, Bossy’s 50 goals in 50 games and Clark Gillies’ fighting antics. And even though I’ve seen these videos several times, they never seem to get old.

As for everyone else here on the islands, interest in hockey is close to none. You’d probably think being so far away I’d be isolated from the rest of the fan-base but that’s not the case. The Isles twitter community has treated me well and although I’m not an avid tweeter, I really enjoy reading about the different perspectives of Isles fans.

My Highlights as a Fan

Like every other fan, watching the Islanders make it to the second round of the playoffs is at the top of the list. During the playoffs, I’m basically on U.S. time zone. When I get home from school I go to sleep and wake up at around midnight to catch the games live.

New York Islanders

Last year’s double overtime games against the Panthers had me up till 6:00 am but they were definitely worth the sleep deprivation, overdue school assignments and waking up my entire family with all the cheering.

Number one on my list is definitely my trip to New York this past October with my dad. It was the first time I had ever been to a hockey game and it’s certainly one I’ll never forget. I tweeted Islanders commentator Butch Goring before the game and he actually replied and invited me to say hello. I couldn’t believe it.

After several trips around the arena, my dad and I managed to find Mr. Goring and he was expecting us. He is such a down-to-earth and friendly individual and showed genuine interest in our story as fans. I was literally shaking with disbelief.

A couple days before, I was watching from my home in Malta and then there I was, having a conversation with one of the key players of the New York Islanders dynasty. And if that wasn’t enough, the Islanders scored five goals that night en route to a 5-1 win against the Maple Leafs.

But the best was yet to come. After the game, I saw that New York Islanders forward, Shane Prince was giving an interview near the arena exit. I quickly ran over into a sea of blue and orange. After the interview, I got his autograph and he even posed for a selfie. Writing about it now still puts a smile on my face. If that’s not the best first hockey game, I don’t know what is.

Next: Wild West Win in Ho-Sang’s Debut

Reading the stories of my fellow Isles fans has made me realize what makes the New York Islanders such a classy organization.

It is the inclusion, acknowledgment and tight-knit community of all fans. Apart from the excitement of the games, we fans are made to feel as an integral part of the blue and orange community whether we hail from Long Island or a small island in the Mediterranean 4000 miles away.

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