Islanders build two rinks outside arena for fans

The New York Islanders have built two public pond hockey rinks outside of UBS Arena that will host 4-on-4 tournaments and "learn to play" clinics in conjunction with USA Hockey.

One rink will have natural ice for 4-on-4 youth and adult teams to hold games and tournaments. The other rink will have synthetic ice, ensuring season-long accessibility, and will cater to community programs that offer the fundamentals of hockey and skating to all age groups and skill levels.

Both rinks will offer 90-minute public skate sessions. They'll be part of The Park at UBS Arena, a 155,800-square-foot, season-long outdoor experience that will feature a beer garden and a "VIP Igloo Garden." There are plans to use the rinks for Islanders pregame shows and for watch parties when the team is on the road.

Dan Craig, who was the NHL facilities operations manager for 23 years, is overseeing the ponds for the Islanders. Craig was known as the "ice guru" for the NHL, leading the construction efforts for Winter Classic and Stadium Series outdoor rinks.

"It's exciting to see the outdoor rinks the Islanders are building," said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. "There's nothing quite like playing hockey outside and the two rinks will not only provide a great opportunity for players of all ages to create lasting memories, but also to introduce new families to hockey."

The rinks will open to the public Dec. 27 before the Islanders' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with an event that features Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine.