Fans Share Their Greatest Islanders Moments At Nassau Coliseum With

By Daniel Friedman
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For many fans of the New York Islanders, Nassau Coliseum was a second home, or even hallowed ground. This is the team’s final season on Long Island, and it’s going to be a very emotional year for a lot of people.

This is the first of what I hope will be several memoir pieces. Many of you have been kind enough to share your favorite moments at the old barn off Hempstead Turnpike, and all of your responses are greatly appreciated. Keep them coming, because there will be more opportunities to be published.

The following is just a snapshot of the impact that both the building and the team that occupies it have had on its numerous patrons:

“My father absolutely HATED waiting in traffic. So we would sit there for 45 minutes after the game ended until we were the last two people In the building. Then we’d go out to Gate 1 and take pictures with EVERY single player. I’d go home with sticks, pucks, everything. It got to the point where a few of the guys started to remember me.”actor Kevin Connolly

“Watching the Islanders skate with the Cup after they beat the Minnesota North Stars. Bossy’s 50th goal in 50 games. Chanting “CHILI, CHILI!” when the Isles were in reach of six goals. Season tickets, Section 315. Hanging a ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ banner only to have it stolen during the game.”Michele Catalano

“I remember going to the Shawn Bates penalty shot game and not being able to see the ref point towards center ice. I also couldn’t hear the PA announcer say ‘penalty shot,’ so my dad leaned down and told me what happened. Then I remember standing on my seat, watching the puck go in and then being convinced the building would collapse!” — Tani Isaac

“First ever playoff game at the Coliseum with my dad in ’13. Game 3, Sunday afternoon vs. Pittsburgh. Driving into the Coli parking lot, seeing it filled with tailgaters and the whole front of the Coliseum really was the first time I ever saw the ‘mausoleum’ alive, and the way the building shook during the pregame videos, and the deafening LGI chants, I left that day with the worst throat ache of my life, but just to see the old barn lit up like that is something I will never forget.”Frankie Narciso

“1984 Game 5 vs. Rangers, the Ken Morrow OT-winner. Best game ever!!! Worked as a beer vendor as a H.S. junior (go figure). Yes, the vendors stopped after period two even back then which meant I had cash in hand and premium view for the huge winning goal. We celebrated extending the streak that could never end. Unfortunately, the end came less than 3 weeks later. The fact that the end to not come at the hands of the Rangers made it somewhat more palatable.”Dean Wagner

“My dad took me to Game 6 of the SFs on May 11, 1975. Most memorable day of my life. The Coliseum crowd was so loud that my dad and I couldn’t even hear each other. But of course Islander hope ended there as we all know. In Game 7, the Flyers brought out lucky charm Kate Smith to sing ‘God Bless America’ right in Chico Resch’s crease, throwing the rookie off his pre-game routine. My dad passed away the next day.” Tom Jones

“April 13, 1982. The greatest comeback ever!! Game 5 (it was a best of 5) of 1st round. Series tied at 2. Isles down by 2 goals with 5 min left. Facing elimination, they tie it and Tonelli wins it in OT. No dynasty if not for this game. The greatest game I ever went to.”Gary Oventhal

“I remember Bates coming in on the breakaway and he got tripped, everyone was standing so I couldn’t even see what was happening. I climbed on my chair, and saw the official point to center ice. I remember screaming to my dad, ‘Bates is getting a penalty shot, my first penalty shot, and it’s my favorite player!’ The CUJO chants rained down, and I was a part of it while telling my dad how crazy this situation was. The crowd got quiet, Bates came on in, he scored, and I went bananas. As did the entire coliseum, I swear it must’ve shook the building. I kept yelling, ‘My favorite player scored a penalty shot!!’ I look up the goal on YouTube all the time because it’s a moment I always get goosebumps for, and it makes me think what could be if the Islanders get to the playoffs more consistently. The series vs. the Penguins was spectacular, I was a lot older, but that emotion from Bates strung out through the first goal at the coliseum in game three, the second goal in game three, the Tavares game-winner, and the Cizikas game-clincher. Still, nothing beat the Bates goal as my best hockey memory.”Ryan Pavlicek

“I never followed hockey closely until my friend dragged me to opening night in 2012 after the lockout. After the introductions and the first deafening ‘Let’s go Islanders!’ chant, I was hooked, and have been ever since.”Gregory Kantor

“February 10, 2011. The game started with a salute by the five Isles starters proceeding to the dressing room hallway entrance, raising their sticks to salute the family of a fallen Nassau County Police Officer. Before you knew it, the Islanders led 8-2 after 2 periods. And it’s even more memorable for Mikko Koskinen, as it was his first NHL win.”Cord Lehman

“Having a conversation with Bobby Nystrom where he scored the Cup-winning goal on the Coliseum ice at a hockey clinic.”Sam Phelan

“I’ve been going since the late 70s, really more about going with dad and now the Gate 11 crew than hockey. That being said, the most memorable goal I remember was Bossy’s goal in Game 4 of the ’83 Finals. Play developed deep in Isles zone, Trots (Bryan Trottier) got the puck behind the net and Bossy began to streak out of the zone. My dad screamed ‘Bossy!’ while the puck was on Trots’s stick, and then a perfect pass to Bossy and he scored on a breakaway. Again, that was the most memorable goal for me at the Coliseum. With dad and my sister. Great times.”Kevin Sean Feeney

Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter at @DFriedmanOnNYI

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