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Islanders Season Ticket Holder Who Lost Husband To Cancer Gets Special Look Inside UBS Arena

ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The New York Islanders' new home is currently under construction at Belmont Park, but season ticket holders have been picking their seats, and one fan with a special story got an early glimpse inside the arena Thursday.

Gina Cancelino got her first look at her future seats.

"I'm gonna see it. I'm gonna hear it. I'm gonna feel it. We're gonna [gasp] when the puck hits the glass," she said. "It's gonna be incredible."

As CBS2's Steve Overmyer reports, the inspiration for buying the seats is her husband, Joe, a former Marine and NYPD sergeant who lost his battle with cancer.

But the family bonded over Islanders games. When he had bad days, the games were even more important.

"He'd send me a text and say, 'Oh my god, did you see that shot? Did you see that save?'" Cancelino said. "We rallied around it. I'd go see him in the hospital and he'd be like, 'Is the game coming on?' And we'd watch it on my phone ... It took me out of what we were dealing with just for a little while."

Cancelino says Joe told her, "When I get better, we'll get season tickets."

It was a tough decision for her. Season tickets start at a little more than $2,000 a year, and she's now a single mother with two girls. But on the Zoom call to find her seats, she received a sign.

"When my seats popped up, they were in row 10, seats 11 and 12. Ten-eleven is my birthday, and I said, 'Oh, thank you, hon! Thanks for letting me know it's OK and you want me to proceed with this,'" Cancelino said.

Just two hours later, she was getting a private tour of the UBS Arena. In just a few short months, the state-of-the-art building will be playing host to a lively crowd and a family trying to rebuild.

"I'm trying to put it to my kids and have it bring them joy because he's gone and he was a lot of fun and my kids loved him and they loved doing things with him ... and they need to still have that joy," Cancelino said.

When the Islanders heard her story, they added a few more gifts for the family, like hockey sticks and official team jerseys.

"He used to say, 'Laughing, smiling, dancing. That's the way you have to live ... You're thriving if you're doing those things.' He'd say, 'Don't forget to be awesome,'" Cancelino said.

Because awesome runs in the family.

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