For the first time since the early 1980s the New York Islanders played and won a Stanley Cup playoff game at Nassau Coliseum. For fans, it meant seeing the team play at the same venue at which they won four years in a row from 1980 to 1983.
The Islanders faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 10, but before the hit the ice the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum was filled with fans. Some came as early as 12 p.m. to set up a tailgate party in honor of their homecoming.
The Islanders and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum, announced in February that the hockey team would be playing their first round home game in Nassau County if they made the playoffs.
The public announcement came less than two weeks after Nassau County Executive Laura Curran wrote to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman asking that the Coliseum be considered for the postseason.
On April 10, Curran appeared wore a custom Islanders jersey throughout the day in honor of Bettman’s agreement. “The energy in the Coliseum when the Islanders is playing is unmatched,” Curran said. “You get goose bumps just walking through the doors.”
Curran walked through the parking lot prior to the game, greeting tailgating fans. One of who, Jordan Baptiste, traveled from the city of Orleans in Ottawa, Canada, for his first time seeing the Islanders play at the Coliseum.
As Curran approached another group of fans, one approached her and shook her hand. “Thanks for writing that letter,” said the fan, Louis Monteleone. “There’s nothing better than an Islanders tailgate.”
“So how do you feel about them coming to Belmont?” Curran said, referencing the team’s new arena that is set to open at Belmont Park in time for its 2021 season.
Monteleone replied with, “I just hope it gets done.”