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Dragon Tales

A day in the life of an NHL mascot

The New York Islanders’ winged mascot, Sparky the Dragon, is one of the National Hockey League’s 26 costumed creatures found within NHL arenas throughout North America.

The Islanders’ former mascot, Nyiles (pronounced Nigh-els), resembled the grizzly fisherman featured on the team’s jerseys in the mid-1990s. Sparky the Dragon served as the mascot for the New York Dragons (Arena Football League), who played their home games at the Nassau Coliseum before the team suspended operations in 2009. Sparky, a beloved member of the Nassau Coliseum family, swapped his football gear for a pair of ice skates and the rest is hockey history.

Sparky, though unable to speak, recently caught up with Anton News via email.

“Sparky spends his mornings visiting elementary schools around Long Island. He performs school assemblies with Dina, the Islanders' arena hostess, about being healthy and making smart decisions,” Sparky said.

On game days, Sparky’s routine is much like that of an NHL player.

“Sparky makes sure all his gear is clean, he is well hydrated, and of course, well fed. Then he does some stretches and some laps around the ice. He doesn't want to pull a hammy,” Sparky explained.

With his hockey stick-shaped tail, bulbous head and permanent smile, Sparky has become a staple at Islander home games and team events throughout Nassau and Suffolk County.

“Islander fans love Sparky and constantly praise him for his hard work, hustle and surprisingly good sense of humor (you wouldn't expect someone who can't talk to be so funny). Sparky is always there to cheer someone up when they need it. He’s a pro and the quintessential motivator,” Sparky noted.

The team’s crosstown rival, the New York Rangers, is one of four teams in the NHL without a mascot. The franchises meet four times during the lockout-shortened season, while the rivalry between the two has become one of the greatest in pro sports.

“For players, Sparky is the type of mascot where you hate if he's not on your team but you absolutely love him if he is. Message to the Rangers: Beware of the Dragon,” said Sparky, who enjoys “Islander wins, interacting with the amazing Islander fan base and making new friends at each and every game and team function.”

Though the gig may seem like all fun and games, Sparky sometimes travels with the New York Islanders on business trips, too, as he’s flown – by plane – to Carolina and Ottawa for NHL All Star Games.

And like Islanders All Star forward John Tavares, Sparky prides himself on a team-first attitude.

“Whether he's visiting a fan in a suite for his or her birthday or giving out a prize in the stands, Sparky will do whatever the team asks of him and he has gone from being a prized prospect to an accomplished NHL veteran,” Sparky said.

News

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s just what a Hicksville baker is doing, except in her case it isn’t lemons, but a gluten-free diet. Her lemonade stand of choice is her brand new gluten-free eatery, “Jac’s Bakeshop and Bistro,” which held its grand opening on April 12.  

“I’m a baker who can’t even eat wheat or eggs,” said owner Jaclyn Messina, chuckling at the irony.

There’s a lot you can do in 99 minutes. You could cook dinner, play a non-stop soccer game, watch a romantic comedy or hang out with Odysseus, Achilles and Hercules. If you chose the last option, Hicksville High School’s upcoming theatre production of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less  is the place for you.

The mouthful of a title says it all. The cast will take on over 80 characters as they speed through all of Greek mythology, including popular tales such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, in a little over an hour and a half.


Sports

Vito Sciascia was recently named Hicksville Soccer Club’s Volunteer of the Year at the 2014 Long Island Junior Soccer League 2014 Kick-off Convention.

Sciascia started coaching travel soccer in 1998 for a boys team, the Flash, who later changed their names to the Muddogs. He could always be found at various sporting fields trying to recruit new soccer players. He would make each of these boys feel important and there was always room for another player. He tried to never turn a child away and when other coaches were having trouble with a boy he would take them on his team, no one was ever too much for him. Sciascia found the good in all those boys and they in return respected him. He took them to many tournaments and solicited enough sponsorship so that it was never a financial burden on their families.

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.


Calendar

The Acchords Concert

April 26

Senior Citizen Luncheon

May 1

Curtains

May 1-3



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com