Thomas Hickey sealed the Islanders' first playoff win at Barclays Center in the arena's first playoff game by scoring an overtime goal against Florida's Roberto Luongo in Game 3 of their first round series. But it was a different Islanders employee that the team credited with turning the team's fortunes around long before Hickey ended the game.
When the Aaron Ekblad scored Florida's third goal on Sunday night, the game looked to be firmly within the Panthers' paws. But Islanders head coach Jack Capuano chose to challenge an entry by Jonathan Huberdeau, saying the Florida forward was offsides. The refs huddled, decided that Huberdeau was offsides prior to the goal and wiped Ekblad's score off the sheet.
Once reeling, the Islanders received a palpable boost after that. They tied the game during a furious rest of the period, then went on to win 4-3 on Hickey's score.
Turns out the call to review the play didn't come from Capuano himself, but from video coach Matt Bertani, who saw the play was illegal and radioed the bench with the intel.
From the Islanders recap:
"At times you can see on the ice what you might think is goalie interference or offside, but our video coach did a great job of calling it into us," Head Coach Jack Capuano said. "That was the turning point. Down by two is a lot different than down by three."
Quotes from the locker room confirmed Bertani's save and role in the victory:
Thomas Hickey has the leather #Isles jacket. Some guys wanted to give to video coach Matt Bertani.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 18, 2016
(That jacket, by the way, is this magnificent thing.)
Thomas Hickey on the coaches challenge:"I think (Assistant Coach) Matty Bertani is getting a pay bump...that was an incredible boost."#Isles— Dan Savarino (@DanSavarino) April 18, 2016
This is #Isles video coach Matt Bertani who called down for the challenge.— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) April 18, 2016
If you see him on LI, buy him a beer. pic.twitter.com/CcTU7op3nX
Bertani, a Pittsburgh native and former hockey coach and director of recruiting at Penn State, has been with the Islanders for four seasons. He was previously an assistant coach with the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, which made Connecticut Post Sound Tigers beatwriter Michael Fornabaio happy. Bertani also served as an assistant coach with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL.
He can now add "NHL Playoff Game Hero" to his already extensive résumé.