The New York Islanders played a preseason game in the NYCB Live, formerly known as the Nassau Coliseum. The atmosphere was electric, and many described it as a playoff atmosphere.
The New York Islanders have a very passionate fan base. They showed it this past weekend against the Flyers. They were able to sell out NYCB Live for a preseason game! Back in 2013, I was lucky enough to attend their first home playoff game in the John Tavares era.
The players’ strike condensed the regular season to 48 games. Tavares and the Islanders made them count. It was the first time in Tavares’ career that he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy. The Islanders were a team on fire at the end of the year and clinched their first postseason berth since 2006-2007.
Entering Game 3 the fans were ready for playoff hockey. Walking into the arena you could hear “Let’s go Islanders!” chants all throughout the parking lot and throughout the concourses.
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The Islanders used a comeback victory in Game two to even the series. They used the momentum, and energy from the crowd to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Just six minutes into the game the Coliseum was up for grabs, and the Islanders were riding high.
Unfortunately, the Isles took a couple of penalties and the Penguins had a 5 on 3 Power Play to try to get back into the game. Sure enough, they would score on the front end and then 20 seconds later to tie the game. The Penguins would score again before the end of the first, and the Isles trailed 3-2 going to the second.
On the Comeback Trail
The Pens would add a goal in the second, and the Islanders faced a 4-2 deficit entering the third. About five and a half minutes into the third, Kyle Okposo was able to get the Isles to within one. Okposo used a slick move to gather a Frans Nielsen pass and beat Marc-Andre Fleury for a short-handed goal.
The Islanders had 14:30 minutes to tie the game, and I remember my dad turning to me, saying that Tavares needs an MVP moment. Sure enough, a few minutes later JT delivered. Tavares took a shot from the circle and beat Fleury. JT scored his first career playoff game and tied the game at four.
To this day that was the loudest I have ever heard an arena. Everybody was hugging, and high-fiving each other. The old barn was rocking and the place was absolutely electric. That was a moment I’ll never forget.
Unfortunately, the Penguins won the game in overtime. The Penguins scored a Power Play goal to end it, and many will say Sydney Crosby dove to draw the penalty. Though the loss was mired in controversy the Islanders proved they could compete with the Mighty Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders lost the series in six games. The short stint made both players and fans hungry for postseason success. Since that series, the Isles have only qualified for the playoffs twice but did advance to the second round in 2016.
Preseason Game with a Postseason Feel
Last season was a disappointment for the Islanders. This year the Islanders will hope to not only make the playoffs but go on a long postseason run. One thing for certain, Islander fans are chomping at the bit to cheer this team on until June.
They showed up on Sunday and packed the old Coliseum. Islander fans showed up in force and helped to make a preseason game feel like a playoff game.
Fans were loud before faceoff and followed suit the rest of the game. Though it was just one game it was a good flashback to just how loud the old barn could get. When fans packed the Coliseum the Isles had one heck of a home-ice advantage.
How many fan bases can make a playoff game and preseason game feel almost identical? Only time will tell if this Isles team will make the playoffs. Sure the Barclays Center doesn’t hold the sound as well as the Coliseum, but when Isles fans show up in force they will be heard.