In July of 2015, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will exist no more. It will be torn down, renovated, refinished… however you look at it, the barn will never be the same again. My first time at Nassau Coliseum was when I was the ripe old age of 6. It was an Islanders game against the original Winnipeg Jets. I remember a small amount of the game. The final score was 7-5 Winnipeg and Ziggy Palffy netted a hat trick. It was also a game in which I saw Derek King take a face plant onto the ice, subsequently breaking his jaw. From that moment my favorite player was Palffy. The following season I went to a game between the Isles and Panthers. It was a snooze fest, 0-0 going into overtime. I don’t remember the end to the third period, because as a 7 year old sitting in the 300’s, I fell asleep! I’ll tell you what though. I woke right up when the Isles scored the game winner in OT and the barn erupted.
I’ve seen other events at the Nassau Coliseum too. I saw Monster Jam there a couple time as well as Supercross. I saw the Backstreet Boys when I was 11. More recently I saw one of the greatest non-sporting events I’ll ever witness at the Nassau Coliseum. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame came to town and performed the immortal classic album, “The Wall”. It was a dream come true for a kid who will never see a true Pink Floyd show. I grew up with my father listening to bands like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. I guess some of those tastes were transferred onto me because when the show was announced I begged him to go. It worked. The stage effects, the atmosphere, and the music were once in a lifetime for me.
The epitome of all events though, for me, was game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 7, 2013. Of all the times I’ve been to Nassau Coliseum, never have I felt electricity like I did that night. The Islanders die hards all showed up and it was so LOUD. Before they even had warm ups, chants of “Let’s Go Is-lan-ders!” filled the air. They had a car painted in Penguins colors outside for fans to beat with a sledgehammer. As the puck dropped, I couldn’t hear the person next to me. When Brian Strait scored the first goal of the game the place exploded. The game was back and forth until the third period. You all know what happened. The Captain, John Tavares, delivered. The go-ahead goal gives me goose bumps as I write this. I’ve never felt more PROUD to be an Islanders fan than I did at that moment. The final score was 6-4 Islanders.
It was at this time when I found my home away from home in Nassau, Section 329. I had sat there by coincidence for the playoff game, that’s where my tickets ended up being when I bought them. It was during that game when I had my first experience with the group known as the Blue and Orange Army. Throughout the summer of 2013, I started talking to the members of the BOA. They welcomed me with open arms for the 2013-14 season and I now can proudly call myself a member of the group of not only Islanders fans, but some of the best friends I’ve ever had. The 2013-14 season was the most fun I’ve had, even though it was so disappointing on the ice.
I’m going to miss this old barn. It’s going to be a rough ride the first couple seasons in Brooklyn, where the Islanders, as we all know, will make Barclays Center their home. It’s going to be strange getting used to having to take a train and not being able to show up at the parking lot early to hang out with friends and tailgate. No longer will we have the compact sightlines and unobstructed views of the ice at the Nassau Coliseum. We won’t have a center hung scoreboard, unless you consider the center of the ice the blue line. It’ll be different. Sometimes change is good. We will just have to wait and see.