As a native of Long Island and a proud parent of a son that played travel hockey for most of his youth, I would frequent rinks across Long Island and the Metro New York area watching games. The kids were young, full of energy, and simply loved playing hockey. At the time, there were not a lot of players in the NHL from Long Island, as Canadian and European born players still dominated the NHL landscape.
However, there has been a recent shift, and a lot of this can be attributed to the outstanding youth hockey programs that have been developed on Long Island over the years. In particular, the Long Island Gulls organization. The Gulls are a AAA youth hockey program based out of Jericho, NY, and have become the cream of the crop when it comes to developing NHL prospects from Long Island.
The mid to late 90’s were particularly good times for the Gulls, as their teams experienced a great deal of success, and put forward some pretty talented hockey players. Let us look at a few.
- Leading off is Sonny Milano, a Massapequa NY kid who played for the Gulls in 2010-2011 season. Milano would go on to achieve a high-level of success playing for the US National Development Team, putting up 86 points in 58 games at the age of 18. That same year, Milano was drafted in the first round, 16th overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Milano is currently playing in the Anaheim Ducks organization, and at the age of 24 a lot of his potential is still to be reached.
- Up next hailing from Freeport NY, Jeremy Bracco. This young man played for the Gulls organization from 2009-2012 amassing 217 points in 87 games. Bracco also put up an impressive 94 points for the US National Development program in 2015. That same year Bracco was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round. He is now part of the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
- This brings us to Charlie McAvoy, from Long Beach NY. Although McAvoy only played for the Gulls for one-season (2011-2012), his success may be amongst the best of any player to hail from Long Island. A product of Boston University (and to be fair, lets give a shout out to David Quinn for this one), McAvoy was drafted 14th overall in 2016 by the Boston Bruins. Since joining the Bruins in 2017 he has made an immediate impact, registering 60 points in his first two-full NHL seasons. More importantly, McAvoy has become a top pair defenseman for the Bruins, averaging nearly 25 mins of ice per game.
- And last, but certainly not least, is avid NY Rangers fan and Jericho, NY native Adam Fox. A member of the Gulls from 2012-2014, Fox went on to play for the US National Development Team, and Harvard University. He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft. Fox’s NHL rights were traded twice before he signed his entry level contract, first from Calgary to Carolina, and then from Carolina to the NY Rangers. Since joining the Rangers in 2019 he has been nothing short of spectacular putting up 42 points in his rookie season and finishing 4th in voting for the Calder Trophy- NHL rookie of the year.