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Long Island

Islanders reach deal with Gulls Amateur Hockey Association

Northwell Ice Center in Eisenhower Park is

Northwell Ice Center in Eisenhower Park is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The New York Islanders have reached a deal that will allow Long Island’s oldest youth hockey organization to continue playing at the team’s Eisenhower Park practice facility this season.

The deal, signed Thursday, provides the Gulls Amateur Hockey Association with 18.5 hours of combined weekly ice time at the Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park and Iceworks in Syosset, both owned by the Islanders.

“This salvages the season for the Gulls,” said Phil Campisi, the association’s attorney.

Islanders attorney John McEntee declined to comment.

The settlement also requires the Gulls to make $36,000 in back payments to the Islanders while forgiving an additional $10,697 owed to the team by the association.

The Gulls, which serve 350 children ages 5 through 18, must still negotiate ice time for the final three years of the group’s five-year licensing agreement to play at Northwell.

Northwell, previously known as Twin Rinks, opened in 2014 as a partnership between Nassau and investors including Joel and Ronald Friedman and brothers Chris and Peter Ferraro, both former NHL players.

In May 2015, Ronald Friedman signed a five-year agreement allowing the Gulls, which he ran at the time, to play at Northwell through 2020.

But construction costs jumped from $15 million to $52 million, and the owners fell behind on license payments to the county. In June 2015, Twin Rinks filed for bankruptcy, prompting a public auction of their assets.

Then-Islanders owner Charles Wang won a bid to purchase the building for $8 million and transform it into the team’s practice facility. As part of the sale, Wang accepted the Gulls’ licensing agreement.

Last season, the Gulls averaged 51 hours of weekly ice time at Northwell. But the team declined to match those hours for 2016/2017 season.

After efforts to strike a deal failed, the team sold much of Northwell’s ice time to other youth hockey leagues, including teams sponsored by the Islanders themselves.

The two sides have battled in federal bankruptcy court since May with the Gulls accusing the team of negotiating in bad faith in an effort to take over the organization. The Islanders dispute those claims and argue the licensing agreement does not guarantee the Gulls a specific amount of ice time.

In court last month, the Islanders offered the Gulls an additional six hours of weekend ice time at a smaller Iceworks rink. The Gulls rejected the offer, citing the size of the rink.

The Gulls separately negotiated an additional 23.5 hours of ice time at rinks in Bellmore and Syosset. The Gulls’ season begins next month.


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