Most of the attention of the New York Islanders mini camp surrounds organization’s top prospects. Two of the most popular amongst media are first round selections Griffen Reinhart (2012) and Ryan Pulock (2013). They are sat next to each other, and both days’ media scrums ensue around them. Yet the two stalls to the right, in the shadows, both literally and figuratively, are local products invited to join these Isles prospects. Chris Makowski (Dix Hills, N.Y.) and Tommaso Bucci (Franklin Square, N.Y.), two teenagers that are members of the P.A.L Junior Islanders. They’re two of the five from the team that competes in the United States Premier Hockey League. Defenseman James Mazza (Kings Park, N.Y.) joins his teammates across the locker room for the “White” team, attending his second mini camp with the organization.
It was “a dream come true,” for the 19-year old Bucci who scored 13 goals and assisted on 16 more in 46 games this year. “I walked in here, saw my name on the stall and started smiling.” Makowski, who netted four more goals and 11 more points than his teammate this year expressed the same feelings as his teammate.
With Bucci and Makowski growing up just 30 minutes from the Nassau Coliseum, there is no surprise both of their first moments in the building involved hockey. Makowski’s first took place on the ice at seven-years old. During a skills competition during the intermission of and Islander game, the now 6’3” forward scored on a breakaway. “It was awesome,” said a smiling Makowski. “I didn’t get the game puck so I cried a little bit.”
Bucci can’t remember the exact game, but knew he first went to a game during the team’s playoff run of 2004. The pair both grew up Ranger fans, but that may have to change now. “I told my Dad I may start becoming an Islander fan,” joked Bucci who comes from a family where both his parents grew up playing the sport. Makowski tries to come watch two games at the Coliseum, despite the opponent because he loves the sport.
Both Bucci and Makowski won’t be leaving each other’s side soon. They are committed to play hockey for the Mercyhurst University Lakers in the fall, a NCAA Division I program in the Atlantic Conference.
While the media may flock to the players sitting to the pair’s right, it doesn’t take away from their enjoyment of the camp. “I may not be getting as many interviews [as Reinhart],” Makowski jokingly said, “but this is all a lot of fun.”
The pair has been skating on the same line through the first two days, and is expected to do so in front of their family and friends in Thursday’s rookie scrimmage and skills competition. “I have about 50 people coming,” stated Bucci. “I’m hoping to score a goal, I don’t shoot much so maybe I’ll get an assist and Chris will score one.”