Much like Columbus Blue Jackets youngster Sonny Milano, Long Island hockey players are rapidly finding themselves in the pros.With two Long Islanders chosen in the first-round of this past year’s NHL Entry Draft, Long Island is easily growing as a place that produces amazing hockey players.
In 2014, Sonny Milano was chosen No. 16 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s played five games for the Blue Jackets and is just one of the most recent Long Island stars who’s made it big.
Charlie McAvoy was a first-round pick for the Boston Bruins in 2016. He has been playing in the World Juniors for team USA the last few years. The 19-year old, who hails from Long Beach, was a first-round pick for the Boston Bruins in 2016. He has been playing in the World Juniors for team USA the last few years.
Alongside McAvoy is his Team USA teammate, Tage Thompson. Thompson was a first-round pick of the St.Louis Blues and also grew up playing hockey down in Long Beach, NY.
Adam Fox is also a member of team USA. Fox, 18, has grown up playing hockey down in Jericho, NY. He was a 3rd-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames. Fox is now a freshman at Harvard University and his hard work is also seen contributing to Team USA.
Jeremy Bracco, 19-Years-Old out of Freeport, NY, is another member of Team USA and grew up playing hockey on Long Island. His father, Mike Bracco, coached he and McAvoy for the Long Island Gulls. Bracco was a second-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Anthony Bitetto, the sixth-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2010, has worked hard to earned a spot on one of the NHL’s best offenses, grew up in Island Park, NY, just outside of Long Island.
Via Daniel Friedman of SI.com:
“I was fortunate enough to live really close to Long Beach Arena, so I grew up playing there all through youth hockey,” says Antony Bitetto. “I had a lot of good coaches over the time. The whole atmosphere in Long Beach, it kinda became a hockey town. Seeing Milano and McAvoy pick the next generation up and become high draft picks, it’s good for Long Island and hockey itself.”
There are just over 10,000 registered hockey players on Long Island, according to Bitetto. They are quickly developing and producing many talented players.
Long Island produced a Hobey Baker winner in Matt Gilroy. Keith Kinkaid, who played in Suffolk County, is with the New Jersey Devils now, stifling the likes of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in shootouts.
“Long Island is quickly putting itself on the map” – Anthony Bitetto
McAvoy and Bracco were two of the best high school players in Long Island. McAvoy attended Long Beach High while Bracco made his noise at Portledge High. McAvoy was the highest rated defenseman in Long Beach, which dragged interest from Team USA. McAvoy was then transferred to Ann Arbor for team USA training and he attended Pioneer Academy where he excelled in academics and in hockey.
Bracco didn’t make history at Portledge but he made an impact at the program. The success that Bracco contributed led to him alongside McAvoy joining team USA training camp and all the work he has done throughout the years tabbed him a spot with McAvoy on USA’s World Juniors team.
With all of the successful hockey players that Long Island has produced over the years in college and NHL, it will attract more talent from anywhere around the USA. This is going to help NY in the next few years from both a business and hockey talent point of view.