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Favorite Nassau Coliseum Memories

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Tickets from Garth, a missed first date and more

My son, Zach, getting his frustrations out before Game 3 against the Caps in 2015

The Nassau Coliseum had it’s second farewell game last week as the Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit to forced Game 7 as Anthony Beauvillier’s OT winner sent the Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.

But will we have a third farewell game? It seems like the Coliseum will have more farewells than The Who have had. During Lou Lamoriello’s season-ending media availability, the reigning two-time General Manager of the Year ended that dream as he expects the team to start on the road, with a Western trip anticipated. The opening date of the UBS Arena is a “moving target”, according to Lamoriello.

I’m glad they are not going with the Coliseum. There was no better way to close out an arena like the Isles did last week, with the exception of winning a Stanley Cup of course. It was my, along with pretty much everyone in the arena who didn’t witness a Stanley Cup clinching game, favorite Coliseum memory.

As I was chanting “Lets Go Islanders” walking out of the “Old Barn”, I was thinking about some of my favorite Islander Coliseum memories. However, some of my most memorable Coliseum moments weren’t playoff OT winners (I left those off this list) or wins against the Rangers. A sold-out Coliseum didn’t witness some of these moments. Every fan has these moments. I wanted to share some of mine.

November 19, 1985 - Islanders defeat Flyers, 8-6

My very first Islander game! I couldn’t remember the exact date or score but remembered that the Islanders scored a lot of goals, it was a high-scoring game and that they played Philly. Thanks HockeyReference.com for the details. My two favorite players, Mike Bossy and Pat LaFontaine, both scored. Still have the yearbook I got at the game at my mom’s house.

April 14, 1993 - Islanders defeat Devils, 8-4

Pierre Turgeon’s hat trick on fan appreciation night capped his magical regular season as the 1992-92 Lady Bing winner ended with 58 goals. The Islanders clinched third place in the Patrick Division. That game was the first time I drove to the Coliseum. That game was the first time I honked my horn to the “Lets Go Islanders” chant. I didn’t have to tell my mom or who ever was driving to do it.

The fan appreciation giveaway was something that I still have to this day, an Islanders travel mug. The use of it has changed over the years, first as an actual mug, then as a pencil/pen holder and now to its current use, a coin jar.

Still going strong, 28 years later

The lettering of the mug still cracks me up after all these years. Not sure why they just didn’t start with the Islanders text right underneath the logo instead of it starting underneath the sponsorship. But hey, the Michelin Man is cool!

The 1993 playoff run to the Wales Conference Finals was magical. The Islanders played eight games at the Coliseum during that run, of which I was fortunate to attend five of them.

January 7, 1994 - Islanders defeat Flames, 6-2

This game was a potential life-changing moment. Not because Turgeon scored two goals and added an assist, which helped my fantasy team, it was the night I was supposed to meet my future wife, Jodi. We were to meet via a few of our mutual few who were also attending the game. A few hours prior to game time I get a call from a friend telling me that Jodi has a fever and will not be coming. Disappointed, I ask my friend for Jodi’s number and call her. After being on the phone for almost two hours, none of which involved the Islanders, I put on my Marty McInnis jersey and headed to the game.

I still wonder what would have happened had she come to the game. I probably would have ignored her the entire game while the Isles were beating up the Flames. What about intermissions? A perfect time to get to know someone, nope, would have been waiting online for the bathroom.

I did meet Jodi two days later and are about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

February 25, 1994 - Islanders defeat Flyers, 2-0

Well I finally got Jodi to a game. Home from college during Presidents week, I took her to her very first hockey game. She witnessed one of Ron Hextall’s five shutouts during the season. The shutout, wasn’t enough to convince her to become a hockey, or basically any sports fan. Lord knows I’ve tried.

October 3, 2009 - Penguins defeat Islanders, 4-3 in a shootout

The John Tavares era begins! That was not the sole reason why this game was memorable, it’s the way I got my ticket. My friend, Steve, was the Islanders graphics coordinator on MSG Plus for the 2008-09 season. I met him when I started working at MLB Network in 2009. He shared stories of his time with the Islanders and revealed the affectionate nickname that general manager Garth Snow called him, “meat.”

While we were working one night, Steve mentioned to me that he had two tickets to the season opener if I wanted to go with him. I immediately said yes. How could I pass up the chance to see John Tavares, the future of the franchise, one who would lead the Islanders to their fifth Stanley Cup and play his entire career on the Island, play his first NHL game.

Steve said to meet him at the Coliseum around 5pm or so. When I got there, I waited a few minute for him and when he arrived we headed towards the press entrance. The security guard asked us for our IDs and Steve said that we were picking up tickets from Garth Snow. We waited a few minutes and were allowed in. Normally, tickets would just be left at the will call window. But Garth wanted another chance to rib Steve. The tickets were in an Islanders envelope with one word on it, “meat.” After chatting for a minute or two, we left and I said “nice meeting you and thanks for drafting Tavares.” The tickets were great, about ten rows up from where Tavares scored his first NHL goal.

December 29, 2009 - Islanders defeat Blue Jackets, 2-1 in a shootout

Why would a midweek matchup between two struggling teams be memorable? It was my oldest son, Zach’s first game. These tickets were also free. This time, however, they weren’t given to me by Garth Snow or any member of the organization, but by a voucher from the Top Ten Games in New York Islanders History DVD box set. I figured taking my five-year-old son to his first game without paying for tickets would be the best way. If he got cranky, tired or wanted to leave because Jon Sim didn’t score, I wasn’t out the money for the tickets. I fully expected the seats to be somewhere in the 300s. When I got them in the mail exactly two weeks after mailing the voucher I was surprised to find the tickets to be in section 104.

To his credit, he stayed awake, was engaged and enjoyed an Isles win. Rob Schremp scored the lone goal for the Islanders in regulation and Josh Bailey had the only goal for either team in the shootout. A fan was born! After the past few seasons, the Islanders need to update that DVD box set.

Anders Lee signing an autograph for my son, Zach, at the 2014 draft party
December 13, 2014, Zach’s 9th birthday gift, Isles vs Blackhawks
Our Islander Tv debut, 2013 vs Penguins

There were a few memorable things about being at last week’s Game 6. The first, a late June game instead of a draft party. Don’t get me wrong, the draft parties were fun. Meeting players, the Ice Girls and riding the mechanical bull. The win, of course took the prize, but being able to close the Coliseum with my mom, who took me to so many games, as well as my two oldest kids, three generations of Islanders fans, was something I’ll never forget.