Last night, the New York Islanders returned to the Nassau Coliseum to play their first regular-season game there in almost three years. It was perfect.
December 1, 2018, is a day fans of the New York Islanders won’t soon forget. Since the Islanders left for the Brooklyn borough, fans have vocally spoken out against the Barclays experience and petitioned for bringing the team back home to the Nassau Coliseum.
Those dreams came true last night and it was about as perfect as it could possibly be. Eyes on Isles arrived at the tailgate at 1:30 pm, still five and a half hours before puck drop and lot three was filled with grills, corn hole, and hundreds of Islanders fans partying.
Tailgating, or the lack thereof, was one of the biggest issues with the Barclays Center. Sure, you could have beers on the train but it’s not nearly the same.
The fans were loud and ready to go hours before the doors even opened to let people in. News 12, Fios 1, and multiple other news organizations came out and interviewed fans and got B-roll footage of the festivities.
Shannon Hogan and Bobby Nystrom were around visiting the tailgates and just enjoying the atmosphere pregame. To those who joined in on our tailgate or even just stopped by to say hello, we genuinely appreciate each and every one of you. Meeting all of you guys was a blast.
By the time the sun went down, and it was time to go inside the parking lot was full. Fans filed into the Barn, with the same narrow hallways we knew so well.
Heading up to my seat, still 30 minutes before puck drop the crowd was already large watching warmups take place. When the teams headed off the ice the fans began to file up to there seats and it became clear that there wouldn’t be an empty seat in the Coliseum.
The Islanders came out to boisterous “Let’s Go, Islanders” chants with 14,000 die-hard fans ready to see their team back where they belong, home.
During the National Anthem, due to speaker malfunctions, the entire crowd sang the Star Spangled Banner in an emotional unison. The Islanders were back.
Barry Trotz putting the fourth line out to start the game was perfect. It set the tone for how the game would be played, gritty with a lot of heart. That’s honestly the perfect personification of Islanders fans and Long Islanders together.
We always play second fiddle to the city, and to the other hockey team that calls Manhattan home. The Islanders are a blue collar fanbase, with a ton of heart and grit in their blood.
Every single person in that building last night genuinely cared about this team, and that they were home. There was no talk about empty seats, no jabs at the SUV by the boards or the off-centered scoreboard, the night was perfect.
Even after falling behind two goals in the second period, the crowd still stayed very much into the game. When the Anders Lee goal was waived off and went under review that’s when the crowd began it’s rising action.
When it was announced as a good goal, it felt like the roof was going to blow off, just like old times. From that moment on you knew the Blue Jackets had no shot.
When Anthony Beauvillier came in on a two on one the entire crowd rose to its collective feet and let out a big cheer when Beau put the second attempt home.
The Islanders came out with all the momentum, after tying the game up, in the third period. Casey Cizikas scored the game-winning goal courtesy of Ryan Pulock and that’s when the crowd peaked. I was high fiving people I didn’t know, people were hugging each other it was like they never left.
The Islanders went on to win the game 3-2, with three unanswered goals. After they solouted the crowd with a “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Shannon Hogan spoke with Casey Cizikas. He said that he had goosebumps and you could see his genuine smile from the last row of the building.
When leaving the ice he motioned with his hands to pump up the crowd for one last eruption from the crowd. In the post-game, every player that was spoken and even the coach complimented the atmosphere.
Barry Trotz said that the atmosphere alone could get the Islanders 12 points. It’s honestly not that crazy of a thought if you were there you know exactly why.
Fans filed back out, still pumped as they found their cars to do the “Let’s go Islanders” honk. It took 30 minutes to find my car and get home after Mitch and I recorded the postgame show. All was right in the world again.
Nassau Coliseum may not be their permanent home, but it’s a damn good foster home until Belmont is ready. Yesterday was perfect in every way, and Islanders fans deserved it. We’ve finally made it home.