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Islanders Look Back: Remembering The Santa ‘Brawl’ at Nassau Coliseum



New York Islanders, MSG Networks
Photo courtesy of MSG Networks

NEW YORK, NY– On Dec. 23, 2003, the New York Islanders hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum, which ended in a 4-2 win for the home team. With the Christmas holiday just a few days away, the Islanders held a promotion that if fans dressed up as Santa, not only did they get free admission to the game but would get the chance to go on the ice during the first intermission.

More than 500 fans dressed up as Santa that night, and as promised, they all hit the ice after the first period.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing as a few fans unzipped their Santa suites, unveiling their true fandom–The New York Rangers.

As one can expect, they weren’t greeted with cheers or smiles.

Do you remember when New York Islanders forward Micheal Haley jumped Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Brent Johnston on “Fight Night” back on Feb. 11, 2011?

Keep that image in your head. Now swap out Johnson for a few Rangers fans and Haley for, I don’t know, 490 Islander-fan Santas.

And also, while you have that image in your head, let the circus music (you know exactly what I’m referring to) travel through your mind.

Here’s a quick video of what happened transpired that night:

The event was orchestrated clearly, but not by the Islanders.

Three pals, in Andy Francess (Isles fan), Rob Guercio, and Mike Yee (Rangers fans), came up with the idea, which was comedic.

MSG Networks will air a Santa Brawl feature following the New York Islanders’ contest against the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The program is scheduled to start at 10 PM ET.

Not only will you get to hear from the three men who orchestrated the event, but guest appearances by ESPN’s Alan Hahn, who covered the Islanders for Newsday at the time, along with former Islanders VP of Communications and current host of Hockey Night in New York Chris Botta to give their takes on what transpired that night at The Barn.


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