At the ripe age of 21, Kings Park native Mike Marcou has quickly become a veteran on the ice. The UMass-Amherst defenseman earned his second consecutive invite to the Islanders prospect development camp this week, arriving this time much more seasoned than a year ago.
"Coming in, knowing a lot of the veteran guys I just know what to expect," he said. "[I] have more confidence coming in. You know you belong out there and to just compete. You’ve just got to have fun."
Marcou, who was recently named an assistant captain of the Minutemen heading into his senior season, has seen his game grow by leaps and bounds since arriving in 2008.
He was named the team's Co-Most Improved Player in his sophomore season in 2009-10, a campaign in which he tallied seven goals, including a pair on the power play, and 10 points in 36 games.
"I’m an assistant captain now, so I’ve got a leadership role," Marcou said of his new title. "We’ve got a lot of young kids coming in and they’ll be looking up to me. I’ve got to show them the right ropes."
His preparation away from the rink has continued to fuel his success, and draw the attention of the Islanders, his favorite team growing up.
"It’s really important," he said of the Islanders' impact on the Long Island hockey landscape. "A lot of kids look up to the Islanders. It’s good to have them on the Island. It’s good for hockey on Long Island as well."
Marcou is one of seven native Long Islanders attending the camp, which brings together a number of the organization's recent draft selections and young players.
"It’s a great honor [to be here]," he said. "It’s something I always dreamed of. Coming here, you just have to take it in and work hard."
"I think it’s great," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said of having local players at camp. "I think I mentioned earlier, it’s a tribute to the parents who dedicate themselves, going to the rink very early in the morning, taking these kids to practice, to their youth hockey coaches, to their high school coaches."
The prospects, who have been skating as two separate units throughout the week, will take part in a scrimmage and skills competition on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The event is open to all fans. Tickets cost $10 and will benefit the Islanders Children's Foundation.
"For the kids that are here, obviously it’s a thrill to come to the Coliseum and play with our guys," said Capuano. "I think tomorrow night it’ll be a thrill to get their name on the back of their jersey and play with some of those kids in front of hopefully a big crowd."