With the offseason in full swing, the Eyes On Isles staff decided to come together and rank the best goals the Islanders scored in their successful 2015-’16 campaign. After much deliberation, we delve into why Thomas Hickey’s game 3 OT winner against the Panthers comes in at number 4
Ok here’s an idea. How about we all play a game! Ok, everyone raise your hands if you thought the player you would be horrified to see suit up against the New York Islanders in playoffs was Reilly Smith? Now put your hand down you dirty liar.
To be honest no one was really quivering when they saw a player who had been on three teams in five seasons hit the ice in game one. However, after a few games passed it became clear that Smith was going to be a serious problem for the New York Islanders. He seemed unstoppable as he led the Florida Panthers in points through two games.
It was Smith’s play which made fans confident the Islanders would lose game 3 of the series in OT. The first playoff game at the Barclays Center was bound to end in a loss. Smith had already recorded a goal and 2 assists in the game and seemed bound to get another.
However, as the OT period dragged on and on something happened. The Islanders defense locked up and one member of their defensive unit stepped up significantly. It was another player that had fallen off everyone’s radar; little 6’0 180 pound Thomas Hickey.
After a scrum at the boards with both Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson in the thick of it, Nelson laid a pass gently into the slot where the rushing Hickey filled the open space and, well, magic.
Hickey beat Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo over his stick side shoulder and send the Barclays Center into pandemonium.
Now why does this goal rank so high? A few reasons. Firstly, it won the Islanders a crucial home playoff game and an even more important 2-1 series lead entering game four.
Secondly, it was the first. The first what? The first playoff home win in the Islanders history at Barclays. It showed a new team. Not the one used to losing over the past two decades but one committed to excellence and success, and this goal symbolized how the new team would be in Barclays.
The New York Islanders would once again be winners and with a simple flick of a stick Thomas Hickey helped change the perspective of the team of upstarts from Brooklyn.