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Crowd Factor

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

Loud, proud and tough. The qualities that make Long Islanders, Long Islanders were on full display Sunday afternoon in a sold-out Nassau Coliseum as the Islanders hosted the Penguins in Game 3, a 5-4 overtime loss.

The Islanders stormed out of the gate to the tune of 16,170 raucous fans. From the opening draw, the Islanders pushed the pace, threw the body and looked ready to dictate the battle. With each hit, the fans roared and with a 2-0 lead 5:41into the game, the Coliseum was loud.

Really loud. Playoff loud.

“The fans were unbelievable,” Travis Hamonic said. “I’ve played in some big tournaments and big games in my life and nothing has been that loud.”

The first fans filtered into the parking lot to tailgate at 7 a.m. and lined up by the hundreds at the gates to be a part of the first playoff game at the Coliseum since 2007. Hamonic noted that when he pulled into the lot around 9:30 – it was packed.

“Unfortunately its been six years since they had a playoff game, but today you could tell that they were waiting to blow,” Hamonic said. “They did an unbelievable job and really sent chills up my spine.”

There were cheers for the game’s big moments – Kyle Okposo’s breakaway goal, John Tavares’ first playoff marker ¬– but the hockey-mad crowd also cheered the less glamorous plays, such as defensive clears, or each one of Andrew MacDonald’s three blocked shots.

“It gives you a rush,” MacDonald said. “You aren’t thinking about it at the time. It’s desperation throwing yourself in front of pucks. They were behind us all night and gave us a lot of energy.”

There was a lull in the second period as the Penguins took the lead, but the fans revived the Islanders heartbeat, which led to the Tavares goal.

“After we got that third goal ... they did a heck of a job getting behind us and giving us that extra push,” MacDonald said.

The Islanders were resilient in their comeback effort, but ultimately fell in overtime. The fans and players left the game itching for more. They only have to wait until Tuesday’s Game 4 to rock the Coliseum again.

Next time, it’ll be louder, prouder and tougher.

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