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Only Fitting: Okposo Scores in First Game at UBS

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The Buffalo Sabres only scored one goal in their loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night. The player who scored their goal was former Islander Kyle Okposo.

It was only fitting that Okposo scored in his first game at the brand new UBS Arena.

Back in 2007, Okposo’s first NHL season, whispers of the Lighthouse Project started to surface. Islanders’ late owner Charles Wang wanted to make renovations to Nassau Veterans Memorial Colisuem and the surrounding areas. It took years for the plans to be put in place but a town vote ruled against the renovation in 2011, Okposo’s fifth NHL season.

With rumors swirling about a potential relocation, the Islanders came to an agreement with the owners of Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets, to join them in Brooklyn starting in 2015. Okposo played just one season in Brooklyn before signing with Buffalo following the 2015-2016 campaign.

Walking into the brand new home for the Islanders, something past Islanders had longed for, must have been a bittersweet feeling.

Okposo was a member of the Islanders from 2007-2016. Drafted seventh overall by the Islanders in the 2006 NHL Entry Level Draft, Okposo went on to play 529 games in the blue and orange. Over that span, Okposo picked up 139 goals and 230 assists for 369 points.

His first NHL goal was a memorable one, as he scored it not just without his helmet (illegal today), but also from one knee in the slot against Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils back on March 22, 2008.

 

His best season on the island came in 2013-14, as he scored 27 goals and picked up 42 assists in 71 games. For the first time in his NHL career he made the All-Star team. This was also the same year that Okposo was snubbed of a spot on Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Okposo was part of an Islanders’ core that struggled to be a competitive force. After missing the playoffs in each of his first four seasons on the island, he capped off his Islander career with playoff appearances in the three of his last four seasons.

The veteran Okposo never received a contract offer before leaving for Buffalo. It seemed that general manager at the time Garth Snow had different plans moving forward, as veteran centerman Frans Nielsen was not offered a contract either.

Having a new home should not be taken lightly by the current Islanders. It’s a privilege and an opportunity that many before did not get to experience. Okposo will not get to experience UBS Arena ice again during the 2021-22 regular season as the final two meetings between these two teams (one postponed on Dec. 27, one on April 23) will be in Buffalo.

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