The Islanders practiced at the Brigade Sports Complex ice hockey rink before touring the Naval Academy Yard. Last year, directly before playoff season, the team visited USNA and came away with a valuable experience.
“Last year before we played the Washington Capitals in the playoffs, we stayed at USNA, and our players loved it,” said NY Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano. "The guys and I went to our general manager and told him we wanted to come back.”
During the tour, the team received leadership insight from Marine Corps Capt. Charles Poulton, 12th Company officer. Poulton emphasized leadership is a trait that both military and professional sports teams must embody to be successful.
“Leadership is what we do here at USNA. How a person handles adversity, having the courage to do what’s right, and being humble enough to look at what you can do better is what we instill in these midshipmen,” said Poulton. “Whether you lead a hockey team, or Sailors and Marines, the good qualities of leadership will help you win.”
“I think the Islanders recognized the unique experience we have here,” said Midshipman 1st Class Matthew Caine. “We are surrounded by great leaders, and we are working at it constantly as midshipmen. As Captain Poulton said, the Islanders players wouldn't be where they are if they hadn't been leaders at some point in their lives. Coming to the academy for them was about picking up a few more tools they could apply to their profession.”
“It’s sacred ground here,” said Capuano. “We get caught up in our lives, and then are able to see this place and how fortunate we are. To be able to come here and see the lives of the people who will soon be protecting us - the discipline and the structure - it’s just a great opportunity for us before the season.”