Don Bosco set to make history with first HS hockey game at UBS Arena
When it became official that UBS, the global wealth management firm, was going to be the name of the New York Islanders’ new arena on Long Island, Greg Toskos emailed.
He didn’t need to introduce himself.
“I emailed our President of the Americas, Tom Naratil, and asked if we could play there,” Toskos said. “He said we’re going to make it work.”
By day, Toskos is director of global partnerships for UBS and has worked for the company for 16 years. At night and early in the morning, he is the head coach of the Don Bosco Prep ice hockey team.
On Tuesday, his worlds collide when the Ironmen take on Portledge School (NY), coached by former Islanders guard Rick DiPietro, in the first high school game at UBS Arena. The puck drops at 2 p.m.
“I was aware of our partnership with the Islanders before the announcement,” admitted Toskos. “It was one of the few things that kept me sane during the first COVID lockdown and we talked about what might happen.”
It won’t be the first big stop for the nine-time Bergen County champions and 2021 Gordon Cup champions. In 2014, when Yankee Stadium was created for the NHL Winter Classic, the Ironmen faced off there. the Christian Brothers Academy a few days later for a 1-1 draw.
In 2016, Don Bosco played at Tate Rink in West Point, beating CBA, 5-1.
In 2018, when Citi Field hosted the Winter Classic, the Ironmen traveled to Queens and beat the Hun School, 8-1.
The scores for these games are largely forgotten – I had to look them up even though I was there – but the scenes and images from this era are great.
Perhaps the only place left for Don Bosco to play would be on campus itself, perhaps freezing above the cave. Could you imagine a Bosco-Bergen ice hockey game there?
“We as coaching staff always want to give our children memories that can last a lifetime,” Toskos said on Sunday. “Being the first high school team to play in a brand new ice hockey arena must be a memory they will treasure.”
The game is only part of the day.
Thanks to the partnership between UBS and the Islanders, players from the 43 OAK Foundation will participate in a hockey clinic after the game.
43 OAK was created to give young hopefuls the opportunity to learn the game and improve their skills. 43 OAK provides money for equipment and travel opportunities for players without means.
While Toskos is looking forward to the match, he is also excited about the post-match clinic. Members of Don Bosco and Portledge will participate in the management of the clinic. UBS bears a large part of the teams’ playing costs.
“I want my kids to realize all the hard work their parents put in to allow them to play this sport,” Toskos said. “They have to realize that not everyone has the same means as them and we can use our experience in our great sport to give back.”
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The Ironmen are 15-5-1 after beating Princeton Day School 5-3 on Sunday night. They’ve lost to CBA twice this season, parted ways with Delbarton and just tied rival Bergen Catholic.
Toskos makes no excuses, but what really matters are the next few weeks.
“It’s the stretch race,” Toskos said. “We’ll probably be the third seed and I don’t know who we’ll be playing against, but I think our depth up front has been a really good surprise, our goalie has been good and our defense, which, I think people thought to be a weakness has been excellent.
The Ironmen beat Portledge 5-3 in 2020. Toskos thought connecting with a Long Island school and DiPietro would be natural for UBS Arena. After calling Naratil, he contacted DiPietro, and there they were.
Doors open to fans at 1:30 p.m. The only person on Bosco’s bench who has ever skated at UBS Arena is the head coach. Another benefit of the job, as he was part of a company team that was able to play in a full dry run before the Islanders played their first home game. Toskos thinks he may have been the first skater to hit the ice.
“The ice cream is amazing,” he said.
The ice cream on Don Bosco’s grotto might also be awesome one day.
“The Ultimate Winter Classic,” Toskos said with a laugh. “Right next to the cave on the baseball field.”
Darren Cooper is an avid high school fishing sports columnist for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.