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Isles-Devils preseason game at Barclays Center a 'dress rehearsal' for next year

The Islanders and the New Jersey Devils drop

The Islanders and the New Jersey Devils drop the opening puck during a preseason game at the Barclays Center on Sept. 21, 2013 in Brooklyn. Credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Friday's preseason game at Barclays Center will have a different feel to arena CEO Brett Yormark and his staff.

"Last year it was something new, something special," he said. "This year it feels like a dress rehearsal for the Islanders being in Brooklyn permanently. We're that much closer to it being a reality and we're trying to refine the experience for our fans."

Yormark said Barclays Center is "on track" to have between 11,000 and 12,000 fans for Friday's game against the Devils and that the capacity for hockey is under 15,000 seats.

Islanders fans had their first taste of the Brooklyn experience last September; for this year's game, Yormark hopes Islanders fans, including the current Nassau Coliseum season-ticket holders whom Barclays Center has been courting since the summer, come to the arena with an eye toward the 2015-16 season, when the Islanders will be full-time tenants.

Among the new wrinkles are what Yormark called a "select-a-seat" program, in which potential season-ticket holders can sit in the seats they may want to buy for next season.

Yormark added that the response to Barclays Center's initial outreach to current Islanders season-ticket holders, which began in June, has been positive. "It's exceeded my expectations, to be honest," he said. "I wasn't sure we'd have such a good response, but we've sold a good amount of tickets so far."

The Barclays Center staff will begin selling premium tickets to the public in October. Yormark's staff took over the Isles' business operations and that arrangement will not be altered when the NHL approves the sale of the team to Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin.

Among the other refinements for fans attending Friday's game will be a more high-tech feel for fans around the building, with better access to video screens when not in the main bowl, and more information inside the arena about Long Island Rail Road trains.

There also should be a better experience for the players, some of whom said the ice last season was difficult to handle.

"I've been talking to our chief engineer. We've had our crew skating on it and working on it since we put the ice down last week," Yormark said. "Last year was the first time around with our ice and, as with anything, it takes time to get it right."

Barclays Center will break ground on the Islanders' dressing room and team facilities in the spring, so it won't quite feel like home just yet. Yormark has no concerns.

"We're excited and we're in a good place," he said. "We want the fans to feel like this is a game when they can begin to feel this is the Islanders' new home." Notes & quotes: The Islanders played a pair of games against the Senators in St. John's, Newfoundland, on Monday, winning both by 3-2 scores. Brock Nelson, Sebastian Collberg and Jack Skille had goals in the first game, with Skille scoring the winner with 1:27 to play.

New York Sports