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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Long Island’s Charlie McAvoy now a star for Bruins

A McAvoy Plumbing truck with Bruins stickers on the back door was parked Friday afternoon on the west end of Long Beach.

That was enough to prompt an Islanders fan with the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the brain to come outside.

“Listen, you guys aren’t allowed to work on this block until this series is over!” he shouted, maybe only partially in jest.

Charlie Charlie Sr. laughed from a distance. He knows more interactions like this one are in store as long as his son Charlie Jr. — one of the NHL’s top defensemen — leads the Bruins against the Islanders in a series that opens at 8 p.m. Saturday in Boston. Games 3 and 4 will be played 20 minutes away from Long Beach, up the Meadowbrook State Parkway at Nassau Coliseum.

“It’s so strange,” the elder McAvoy told The Post. “Charlie even said to me, ‘Dad, I’m from Long Island. I’m going to be hearing some heat from people.’ He already has people coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘We’ll see you in Game 3’ and buddies putting pressure on him. But he doesn’t get rattled very easily. I admire him for the way he handles anything that comes at him.”

Charlie McAvoyGetty Images

If Charlie Sr. closes his eyes, he can see his 12-year-old son skating at the old Islanders practice rink in Syosset with the Amateur Hockey Association’s Long Island Gulls or on the Coliseum ice with the junior Rangers as a teenager.

When Charlie Jr. was teammates with then-Islanders center Mike Sillinger’s son, they headed straight from practices to Islanders games.

The running joke now is Charlie Jr.’s rise to stardom is good for McAvoy Plumbing, because customers like to talk hockey.

“We should almost give him a commission, though he doesn’t need it,” uncle Kevin McAvoy joked. “We’ve shared Charlie with the whole community.”

The family business is four generations old, and the McAvoys were Rangers fans for practically as long. Charlie Jr. modeled his game after Brian Leetch, but wanted to absorb as much hockey as possible, so his father bought a 10-game ticket plan for the Islanders.

“He was really a student of the game, and we got a lot out of it,” Charlie Sr. “We have some good memories of being in that place.”

Will more be created soon? McAvoy, 23, already is making his fifth career playoff run. He ranked 17th in the NHL with a plus/minus of 22 this season.

“Having Charlie come play the Islanders makes for great entertainment,” his uncle said, “because now everybody has a horse in the race. If you are Rangers fans or don’t like the Islanders, you’re rooting for Charlie. If you like the Islanders, you’re rooting for the Islanders.”

Kevin accidentally called Charlie Jr. from a blocked phone number last week while toying with the Bluetooth in his wife’s car. To his surprise, his nephew, in the middle of a playoff series, answered.

“Right away, he’s joking around: What is this your burner phone?” Kevin recalled. “He’s no different than the level-headed kid he’s always been.”

It’s how Charlie Jr. handled debuting in the playoffs — not the regular season — fresh out of Boston University in 2017 and replacing the great Zdeno Chara as the Bruins’ top defenseman this season, even as injuries forced a slew of different pairings.

“I don’t know where he gets it from sometimes, but he’s very cool, calm and collected,” Charlie Sr. said. “He doesn’t have my, let’s call it, Irish temper. I’m more nervous about what fans are going to think of us being in the Coliseum than I am watching my son. Seats are at a premium, but we’ll try our best to get as many McAvoys in the Coliseum as possible.”

This series just feels different than all the others before it.

“You just want your children to enjoy playing and do their best,” Charlie Sr. said, “and all of a sudden, his dream comes true, and it becomes our dream of watching him every night and hoping he stays healthy. We’re there to support him through the peaks and valleys and everything in between, but we’re on a high right now.”

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