Tag Archives: new york islanders

Drive for five

I’m so pumped. I’m on my way to go see the New York Islanders at their last home opener on Long Island. I have mixed feelings about their move to Brooklyn, but only because I have a nostalgic attachment to the Nassau Coliseum. I’m not even kidding, one of my earliest memories was of my dad taking me to a game, Islanders vs. the St. Louis Blues. I must have been like four years old. I didn’t even have the concept of ice hockey in my head, and yet there I was, my dad explaining to me to root for the guys in the white jerseys.


Overall though, I think the move to Brooklyn is the right one. It’s going to elevate the franchise into such a bigger market. Unlike the Coliseum, the Barclay’s Center is accessible by train, so it won’t be a headache to get to games without a car. And it’s going to attract a lot of attention to the Islanders, much in the same way the Nets’ move from New Jersey seemed to revitalize their team.

This year is going to be a big one. I know that Islanders fans say that every year. It’s definitely become something of a refrain on my end. The Islanders haven’t exactly been a standout team for a while now, and they haven’t won a playoff series since 1993. But this year I’m actually pretty optimistic about their chances. So optimistic, in fact, that I bet my brother-in-law Matt a hundred bucks that the Islanders win the Stanley Cup this year.

The Islanders brought the Cup to Long Island four years in a row, the last being in 1983, the year right before I was born. So It’s like, the Islanders won their last Cup, and then right away I was born. And as soon as I made my appearance on Earth, the Islanders took a huge nosedive, never really recovering. I’ve always felt that, despite my fandom, my very existence has been somewhat of a hex on my hometown heroes.

But this year is the year. It’s totally going to happen. And the Rangers aren’t even going to make the playoffs, because they’re terrible. The Islanders are going to bring the Stanley Cup home to Long Island one last time before bringing it to New York, securing their place as New York City’s hockey team. And the Rangers are going to sink further and further into irrelevance, Henrik Lundqvist is going to let up like fifty goals in the first ten games alone, and so they’re going to have to reshoot that Advil commercial, the one where Henrik is guarding his net from a charging rhino, only instead of turning into a barrage of pucks, the rhino is going to turn into a wave of Flintstone’s gummy vitamins, and then he’s going to retire in disgrace.

Let’s go Islanders.

New York Islanders update: I caught a free t-shirt

I went to see the New York Islanders a couple of nights ago, and one of my lifelong goals was realized during the first intermission. After the Zamboni worked its rejuvenating magic to the rink, the Ice Girls skated out armed with their t-shirt guns. Even though I don’t want to look overeager, I always stand up, ready for that infinitesimal chance that a t-shirt might be launched my way.


Everyone wants a free t-shirt. I don’t know why the Islanders don’t just give out free t-shirts with the price of every ticket. “Welcome to the Nassau County Coliseum,” they’d usher you inside after a vigorous pat-down, “Here’s your free t-shirt.” Ticket sales would be up at every home game, I guarantee it.

But then I guess if everybody got a free t-shirt, I wouldn’t be feeling as special as I’m feeling right now. Yep, that’s right, I caught a free t-shirt. It finally happened for me. Never again am I going to come home from a game, staring at my shirtless torso in the mirror, forced only to dream of what I’d look like if only I were draped in an XL, one-size-fits-most one hundred percent white cotton tee, the New York Islanders logo screen printed on the front, an advertisement for the Roslyn Savings Bank displayed even larger on the reverse side.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. We got to the Coliseum and I hurried through my pre-game routine. To be honest, free t-shirts weren’t really even on my mind. I’m not even sure hockey was at the forefront yet.

First things first: the fifty-fifty. As far as I know, the Nassau Coliseum is the only place outside of a senior citizens’ church bingo luncheon that regularly holds a fifty-fifty. And I don’t understand why the fifty-fifty isn’t more common, because its allure is universal. Everybody put in some money, and we’ll pick one of you to win half of the total. It’s so simple, it’s genius. No gimmicks, no games. Besides going to a Seven-Eleven, buying a bunch of scratch-offs, and having the guy behind the register immediately scan the barcodes without you having even done any scratching, the fifty-fifty is about the closest you can get to straight gambling. It’s like freebasing, but on a stadium-wide level.

After that, I’ve got to swing by either Gate 7 or 15 to buy my chance to play Chuck-a-Puck. It’s another Islanders game staple. For ten bucks, you get a bag of five orange foam hockey pucks. Right after the second period ends, they put this giant bulls eye in the center of the ice. You then chuck your puck, and the closest to the middle gets a cash prize. Fifty-fifty, check, Chuck-a-Puck, check, now all I needed was a hotdog, a pretzel, a churro, and a large Mountain Dew, and I’d be ready to watch some hockey.

The Islanders were playing the Dallas Stars, and by the end of the first period, I had all but forgotten about the t-shirt guns. And boy was I happy when I saw them being locked and loaded. I needed some positivity. We all did. It wasn’t a good start to the game. The Stars scored almost immediately, and then the Isles’ goalie Evgeni Nabokov hurt his groin. Upon replacing Nabby in net, backup goalie Kevin Poulin broke in his pads by letting up another goal almost instantly. At the end of the first, it was 2-0 Dallas.

I almost didn’t even feel like standing up for the Ice Girls. Maybe if I hadn’t just watched one of the worst first periods in NHL history, I’d be more enthusiastic about waving my hands in the air for a t-shirt that was unlikely to hit my direction. But something inside pulled me to my feet, and then I saw one of the Ice Girls aim in my direction.

Boom! The t-shirt arched in the air and, right before I reached out my hand, time seemed to freeze beside me, like I could see this thing hovering right in front of my face. I looked around, all of the other fans jumping and reaching my way. But I didn’t even have to compete. It was as simple as extending my left arm and welcoming it into my open palm.

The guy sitting to my right gave me a high-five and told me, “Awesome grab man!” and for a few minutes, I was stunned, like did this really just happen? Did, after twenty-five years of attending New York Islanders games, did I just effortlessly catch a free t-shirt from an Ice Girl?

I can’t say for sure that my good fortune had anything to do with what happened next, but going into the second period, the Islanders immediately turned things around. Where the mood just moments before was grim, a current of positively charged energy jolted the crowd to its feet as the home team scored one, then two goals to tie the game, then a third one to secure the lead. As the final seconds of the game ticked by, the Isles wound up crushing the Stars with a final score of 7-4.

It was everything I could have wanted out of hockey game. You know, besides winning the fifty-fifty or the Chuck-a-Puck. And also, they were out of churros. But it’s OK, I had some Dippin’ Dots instead. Captain John Tavares scored a hat trick. I’d never seen one outside of a video game. The fans actually threw hats, it was awesome! And I won a free t-shirt. My very own free New York Islanders t-shirt.

My wife looked at it and said, “When are you going to wear an extra large t-shirt?” And I just laughed to myself, I thought, “Ha. When am I not going to wear it?” Because seriously, I’m never taking this thing off. I’ll wear it forever. I’m wearing it right now. And it didn’t cost me anything. I won it. It was free.