Only one day removed from taking in a magnificent Iron Maiden show at Madison Square Garden, I had a much-improved Barclays Center experience for my fourth Islander game of the season. By the way, it's astounding how many hockey jerseys there were at the Maiden concert (mostly Strangers jerseys, but still).
Number one, for some reason tickets for 3/31's game were quite cheap ($10 for the upper bowl, $30-40 for the lower bowl where I sat with my dad and my fiance). It may have been caused by a selloff after our team's mini-losing streak the week before, but I was happy to sit in Section 15 (end zone where the Islanders shot twice) for about one fifth of the usual asking price. I suppose you just have to be on the lookout for good value games. Stubhub event alerts are pretty good for this.
Of course, the main difference maker in this game experience was that the home team emerged victorious after a nail-biter against the same Columbus Blue Jackets from my LHH story "The Valentine's Day Gift." I suppose I should call this one "The Engagement Gift!"
Captain Tavares got us on the board in the first, staying true to his word about on-ice leadership: "It starts with me." He scored again later in the period, making us lean over our seats in anticipation of a hat trick for the rest of the game. This got much easier after the drunken "Let's go BLEW JYAKITZ!!!" fans behind us left for their AA meeting.
Though our team exited that period with a 3-1 lead (about as strong a 1st period as they've ever had this season), we weren't ready to start celebating yet. Sure enough, it came down to an absolute nail-biter with a tie game in the 3rd, at which point it seemed Columbus was on a "one shot, one goal" roll. Thank God for Anders Lee being our man in front of the enemy net to bury a rebound, which survived a coach's challenge. Even Brian Strait played a halfway decent game on defense.
In the closing minutes, with the Columbus net empty, Leddy came charging towards our end of the ice with the puck, ready to jam the knife in, and had he waited even one second longer, he would have. But because he was just beyond the red line and missed the net, the Islanders had to go back to work for the final minute or so in their own end. We hung on for the 4-3 win, although I hope Coach Capuano chided them to never give up a 3-1 lead again. YES! YES! YES!
As a nice added bonus, the craft beer options have expanded in the lower bowl (shoutout to LHH user newdamage for pointing that out to me). In the lower bowl main entrance, turn right after you get through the airport scanners and check the first bar on your left for the TasteNY bar, which I found by accident. I rubbed my eyes to make sure it was not a mirage: they had Oyster Bay, Flagship, Rockaway Brewing, Bronx, Ommegang...yes, one pour will still run you the cost of a six-pack, but now I know exactly where I'll get my game beer from now on!
Much as I'd love to think the Barclays staff read my Isles Fans Guide to Craft Beer and structured their new bar around that, I'm sure it had much more to do with Governor Cuomo twisting their arm for good "support local business" PR. However it happened, God bless em for including local independent breweries on tap.
I've worn my #31 Billy Smith jersey to every Islanders game this season in the hopes that it turns into a good luck charm of sorts ("Channel the Smitty!" I like to say). The jury is still out on that, but this fun Thursday game night was nonetheless filled with new discoveries and brought my personal home-attendance record to 2-2.
At the beginning of this season, I gave Barclays a fairly harsh (but I think reasonable) review, but after a few more games I've relaxed my stance a bit. How about all of you? Has the Brooklyn Barclays experience gotten more positive for you?
Written by Matt P