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Those Coliseum Memories

Islanders fans share their first and favorite memories of Nassau Coliseum

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are excited about returning to Nassau Coliseum - renamed NYCB LIVE - on Saturday night, their first regular-season game on Hempstead Turnpike since April 11, 2015. The players have their own memories of the building, but so do generations of Islanders fans, who submitted their first and favorite memories from Islanders games at the Coliseum. 

Tweet from @anthonyioime: 1st Game was '13 Game 3 vs Pens. We live in Philly area, so always went to see Isles play here. My dad and I had a great time together and Isles with great W. On way home my wife called me to say she was in labor with our first son. We were 2+ hours away from home.

Tweet from @SteveNicsSM: First isles game at Coliseum I don���t even remember cuz I was an infant 12/5/91 vs. MTLFavorite Coliseum memory Game 3 2013 vs. PIT my first playoff game ever and the team���s first in 8 yrs. PLACE WAS SO LOUD. Noon start NBC they scored very early I thought the roof would pop off

Tweet from @IslesNation13: First: Bill Guerin giving me a puck during practice as a 7-8 year old kid Favorite: Clutterbuck empty netter game 6 vs Caps. Running to rafters and doing yes chant

Tweet from @CollegeCrosse: Don���t know my first, but I���ll never forget the doors to open before you would get to your section/seats. The doors would open and you could smell the ice and it���s unlike anything I have ever felt. I���ll never forget that. Favorite: making playoffs in ���01-02 and Jonsson waving

Tweet from @islesfan28: First: At a birthday party as a 10 yr old in 1980. I asked my friends dad why there wasn���t a 4th period since there were periods 1-4 on the old scoreboard. Favorite is Bates��� penalty shot and being 3 rows behind CuJo. Pandemonium. #isles

Tweet from @karenmc115: First game, my dad drove through a snowstorm from Brooklyn on my 16th bday in 1983 to take me to my first game. Favorite one? Either the Pierre Turgeon/ Dale Hunter game or the Al Arbour 1500 game.

Tweet from @kear20: My first #Isles game was in 1972 when #Isles played Boston. The Bruins won but I remember Phil Esposito was so frustrated he slammed the door to the bench. Could hear it throughout the bldg. My favorite was when Nystrom scored the Cup winner. The others vs. Minn & Edm fun too.

Tweet from @jthockey25: First memory is the game vs. red army in 1988. Was there plenty of times before but for some reason this is earliest one I can recall.Best moment had to be a number of times in 92-93 for the run with OT games, we will rock you and the ���clappers���

Tweet from @Das_Wilhelm: First game I was wearing diapers, early 80s. First memory Mariusz Czerkawski scoring a hat trick in the final game for a 35 goal season in 2000.

Tweet from @sab31nyi: First ever game, age 8 - March 18, 1980 - #isles 6 Atl 3 - Met the players afterwards including my hero at the time @chicoreschNJD ! Tied with above for favorite - #1,500 game!!

Tweet from @mfishbein44: My favorite was Game 5 of the ���82 playoffs against the Pens. Tonelli scores the OT winner against Michel Dion, who stood on his head the entire series. Thought for sure the Isles were done with 5 minutes left in the 3rd. That nite we were reminded Al Arbour was a genius.

Tweet from @FinallySock: First Islanders game was Islanders vs Mighty Ducks 1997, my dad got seats right behind the bench and I couldn't see anything but the action was irresistibleFavorite was vs TB in Dec 2014 because I met my wife there. Other contenders: the Santa game, 2002 Gm 6, 2015 Gm 6

Tweet from @definethemoment: My favorite memory. 5/22/93. skipping my college graduation to drive to LI and watch the Isles/Canadiens in the playoffs. No hotel room. The Island was packed due to Hofstra having graduation that weekend. Tailgated in the parking lot all day with fans before getting a room.

Tweet from @Johnny91Cory: 1st ever is when we beat the pens 6-2 okposo had 4 goals. Best was when we one game 6 against the caps to go back to Washington

Tweet from @ehornick: When you've been to about 1,000 gms, hard to pick a favorite. These 2 definitely near top of my list @WrightsWayI'll take 2 firsts as well:3/3/73 - the night I thought Bob Cook was the greatest ever https://t.co/WZIuViAHf51/21/82 -1st SportsChannel gm https://t.co/Qaq5l2G8dQ https://t.co/YA2hVUlYiQ


Seeing some great responses from the fans made me think about my own memories and experiences at the Coliseum in the years I've spent as a fan, intern and employee of the team. 

Growing up in Burnaby, BC, it took me a little while to get to my first game at Nassau Coliseum. 

The date was March 18, 2008 and I was 17 years old, out on Long Island to visit my Grandma in Floral Park. Despite growing up 3,000 miles and one country away, I'd always had a soft spot for the Isles, as my family on Long Island had always pushed me in their direction. When I was 11, a family friend gave me a Chris Osgood jersey for Christmas. That same family friend took my Dad and I to a job site, which turned out to be Pat LaFontaine's house. Rick DiPietro's brown goalie pads are some of my favorite of all time.  

Fast forward to March 18, 2008. My Mom, a pair of family friends and I drove out to the Coliseum to watch the Isles take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs wound up winning the game 3-1, but that one goal was one of the most memorable I've seen in person - and that's after attending approximately 400 Isles games in the 10 years since. 

If you don't remember how the play went down, the Islanders were on a penalty kill and Rob Davison - who only played 19 games for the team - chopped the puck out of the zone from his own goal line. 

Watch: Youtube Video

The puck took a series of hops, bouncing down the ice at Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala. It looked harmless, with each bounce losing a little more momentum, but home ice advantage paid dividends for the Isles. With Toskala reaching down to scoop it up, the puck took a crazy hop off the ice, raising and changing direction on the Leafs goalie and crossed the line. Davison had scored - from 197 feet away. 

It was still a great experience, but admittedly I didn't fall in love with the building until I started interning with the team in 2011-12. I loved navigating the bowels of the arena, sidestepping crowded hallways by going underneath the bleachers. I loved hearing how loud the building could get for big games, back-and-forth chanting for Ranger games, or pretty much every game during the 2014-15 season. And of course there are sight lines because we all know there's not a bad view in the house. My seat up in the press box is one of the best in the league and I was - and am - lucky to have it. 

As for my favorite memories, there are three that really stand out. The buzz in the building before Game 3 vs Pittsburgh in 2013 was incredible, with tailgating and getting rowdy long before the afternoon puck drop. I flew down from Toronto to intern for the weekend just to be a part of the action and you could feel the press box vibrate before the teams took the ice. I'll never forget the roar for Nikolay Kulemin's game winner in Game 6 vs Washington in 2015, or how the crowd was up in arms right before because of a questionable hit. 

Last, but certainly not least, I think back to getting a chance to play at the Coliseum during Islander staff games. On occasion, the coaches, trainers and hockey ops would get together for a mid-day skate at the Coliseum and one day they needed an extra goalie, so that's how an intern wound up playing shinny with the likes of Doug Weight, Miro Satan and whomever else was around. Between getting lit up by former NHLers, I had the chance to look around and soak it all in. We all know the view of the ice is one of the best in the NHL, but the view from the ice ain't too bad either.

So go out and enjoy the game Saturday and for the rest of the games the Islanders play there. Second chances like this don't come around too often, so make the most of it and make some more memories in the Coliseum. 

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