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Barn Rockers: Islanders Fans Have Given Coliseum a True Home-Ice Advantage

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New York Islanders first game back at Nassau Coliseum

The excitement level must be high if the Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is issuing an earthquake advisory “in and around the Nassau Coliseum” ahead of Game 3. The tweet, a tongue-in-cheek comment meant to highlight the atmosphere in the county-owned building, exemplifies the emotions of New York Islanders fans during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.

And beginning Thursday night, for one final time, fans will get to experience a semifinal game at the Nassau Coliseum.

We are a long way from the insulated bubble that had to have computer-generated crowd noise pumped in simply to create any sort of ambiance. What we have next is the Coliseum, the old and broken down building with terrific sightlines and acoustics that can make 14,000 fans sound like 30,000 in a moment of pure delirious excitement.

It was November 1, 2019, the last time Tampa has had to endure the mental anguish the arena can cause some visiting teams, and that was game 13 of the 2019-20 season. Logic tells us that what they experience Thursday night will be nothing like what they experienced on that November evening nearly two years ago.

In 2015, some Washington Capitals players told me they could feel the building shaking from the visitor locker room prior to pre-game warmups. That’s hasn’t changed since the team moved back to the Coliseum beginning in 2018. 

“It’s been really special,” Ryan Pulock said on Wednesday about the fan support at home. “The noise that they bring every night inside the building is the loudest in the league and we love feeding off that. When you hear that it gives you an extra boost of energy and they’ve helped us get to this point where we are.”

UNIONDALE, NY - JUNE 03: New York Islanders fans cheer during the third period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders on June 3, 2021, at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The Islanders and Tampa Bay are deadlocked at 1-1 as the series shifts back to the Madhouse off the Meadowbrook

The New York Islanders were not as crisp Tuesday evening as they were in their 2-1 Game 1 victory, and apparently, the officials believed they were working a Tuesday night over-40 men’s league game. Sure, you can point to the fact that Tampa took the lead with seven players on the ice in the second period, and they made many calls easily questionable. But crying about the officials being the reason the Islanders lost is a no-sum game.

You aren’t going to get anywhere (see Cassidy, Bruce).

The Islanders were still in good shape on that play, a simple 3v3 in their own zone. But Mathew Barzal chose to pair with Nick Leddy in covering Nikita Kucherov instead of covering his primary responsibility, the high slot, leading to a free look for Ondrej Palat. Sprinkle in some huge stops by Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning played like the defending champs, as we all expected they would for game two.

For the second straight year, the two teams are locking horns in what is becoming an even, testy battle to advance to the final. But, there is one significant difference that could turn the tide.

The Islanders have done well in defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins and arriving at this point. This moment. And if the words of Ryan Pulock do ring true, it’s been the raucous atmosphere at the Coli that has helped bring them back to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. 

But, these are the defending champions we are talking about. After getting shut down in game one, they showed Tuesday night, if they go down, it’s not going to be without a heck of a fight.

However, that won’t dampen the excitement. Islanders fans have waited a long time to witness a game at the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike with such implications. In such a late-round. With so much on the line and the stakes being so significant.

Make no mistake, the fans have been the sixth and seventh men on the ice for New York (don’t worry, I’m sure the referees will miss that one, too). And Thursday night will be as much their moment as it will be a moment that the players on the ice won’t soon forget. 

Be loud, be proud, and enjoy the moment. And then — be even LOUDER.

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