For the first time in nearly two decades, the members of the 1992-93 Islanders team will once again be on Nassau Coliseum ice. The team that made the memorable run to the Wales Conference Finals is being honored by the organization Oct. 29, when the Isles faceoff against the San Jose Sharks.
“It’s just a great thing because the fans are still talking about that year,” said former Islanders forward Benoit Hogue, who played for the Islanders in that unforgettable season. “We advanced pretty far in the playoffs that year. To be honored for that is a great thing. It’s great for the players to get together and share that moment with the fans.”
|Benoit Hogue skates during their game against the Philadelphia Flyers in November, 1992 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) |
That year’s team made a remarkable run. In the first half, the Islanders put up 38 points (a 17-21-4 record); and falling out on playoff contention for the third straight year seemed eminent. However, the Islanders squad rallied in the second half of the season and bested their first half by 11 points, posting a season-ending 40-37-7 record.
With 87 points that season, the Islanders squeaked into the final playoff spot. If it hadn’t been for their strong Divisional play against the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, playoffs wouldn’t have been a possibility.
“The feeling was like every game counted, every game was a do or die,” Hogue said. “We kept winning and getting points and looking at the standings. We were just hoping we could get a lucky break to get in.”
But there was no lucky break. The Islanders made their own luck, edging their season series’ with the Rangers 4-2-1 and the Flyers 7-2-0 (sweeping the second half four games to none). Those wins put the Islanders fourth in the Patrick Division standings, ahead of both the Rangers and Flyers.
“We got into the playoffs in the last few games of the season,” Hogue said. “Nobody gave us a chance to advance far, not even passing the first round. When the playoffs started, we all got together, became a solid unit and advanced pretty far.”
They’d go on to defeat the Washington Capitals in the first round, four games to two.
“We battled against (the Capitals) and went through adversity the whole series,” Hogue said. “A lot of people remember the hit on (Pierre) Turgeon (in Game 6) when Washington was totally out of the playoffs and eliminated.”
In the second round, the Islanders would defeat the defending Stanley Cup Champion and Presidents Trophy winners Pittsburgh Penguins four games to three for the Patrick Division Championship title.
“Everyone was like ‘Oh, okay they beat Washington, but now they have to face the real thing,’” Hogue said of facing players like Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis and Tommy Barasso. “For us, that was a motivator. We had the momentum going in the first round and if we wanted to advance and win the Cup, we had to go through every team, so we might as well take Pittsburgh in the second round.”
Hogue continued, “We went there confident, playing for one another and played as hard as we could. From the very first game, we showed Pittsburgh that we were here and that we didn’t advance past the first round for nothing.”
|Pat Flatley skates on the ice during an NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 1, 1992 at the Nassau Coliseum. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images) |
Not only did the series go to Game 7, David Volek won it all with an overtime goal; it still serves as one of the team’s fondest memories to this day.
“(When Volek scored), I raised my arms because the series was just over and we beat Pittsburgh,” Hogue said. “I remember turning around and looking at Al Arbor (on the bench) and he just had his arms up, not making a sound. He had his arms up as if to say, ‘Oh my god, we just did it.’”
Hogue added, “That feeling in the locker room gave us all the confidence in the world. It was like we really won the Cup. The feeling was like we became Champions, but it was only the second round.”
The Islanders would move on to the Wales Conference Finals before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens four games to one.
“The first round took a lot of our energy, going through Pittsburgh in seven games,” Hogue said. “Montreal capitalized in overtime, winning some games that way. It was really tough and as we fell deeper into the series, it was getting harder and harder to get out ahead. It was just the way it happened.”
Despite the loss, that third-round playoff run revitalized a spark in the historic dynasty that would be remembered for years to come. Help the Islanders celebrate Oct. 29, when the franchise commemorates the 1992-93 season and honors the team that inspired us all.