Islanders Center Mat Barzal And Long Island Nurse Kelly McLaughlin Named NHL’S “First Stars” Of The Week

Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

After a week in which he scored three goals to go along with four assists for seven points over three games, Islanders center Mathew Barzal was named one of the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending April 4th.   Barzal scored a highlight reel goal on an end to rush during the Islanders’ 8-4 win over the Capitals last Thursday and he scored the game winning shootout goal in Saturday’s victory over the Flyers.

“It is nice to be recognized for having a good week,” said Barzal who was named the league’s first star of the week for the first time in his career.  “Every week I get to see in Instagram or Twitter the three stars of the week and their highlights.  I haven’t been the first star in my career, so it’s kind of cool for a bit.  It’s a nice feather in the cap.”

Sharks goalie Martin Jones (1.71 goals against average, .942 save percentage, and a shutout) was named the second star and Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (five goals and two assists for seven points) was named the third star, but there was also another “First Star” in addition to Barzal.

Throughout the season, the NHL has been celebrating the efforts of some very special people by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the league’s weekly and monthly stars.  Since Barzal was named the “First Star” for his contributions on the ice, the NHL has also named Northwell Health-South Short University Hospital registered nurse Kelly McLaughlin as the “First Star” as a result of her efforts during the pandemic.

McLaughlin, born and raised on Long Island and is an Islanders fan because of her father and grandfather, put together an event called the “Day of Hope” which was a hospital-wide initiative that was created to boost morale among the staff during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The event was a great success,” said McLaughlin. “And for a short while, everyone in attendance was able to forget about all of the hardship and suffering.”

McLaughlin is certified in emergency nursing and created the event when she noticed that her co-workers had become deflated and broken down when things were at it’s worst during the pandemic.  “Day of Hope” featured food, music and entertainment for the entire hospital staff and McLaughlin created shirts for the staff using a local vendor that was struggling because of the economic impact of the pandemic.

Congratulations to Mat and Kelly for a job well done, on and off the ice respectively, and for representing Long Island with extraordinary efforts!

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter covers the Islanders for New York Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club. Peter spent 8 years as the radio play by play voice for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. He was also the radio play by play announcer for the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen in 2001 and the radio play by play announcer for the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1993 to 1996.

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