Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Last Game at Nassau Coliseum 4/19/15

Before this season started, I said that if the New York Islanders made the playoffs, I would come home from Albany to go to a playoff game. I've never been to an NHL playoff game, and I didn't want to live my life without going to one at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Islanders had a successful regular season, and while they didn't get home ice advantage for their first round series against the Washington Capitals, they did get a home game at a time I could attend: Sunday April 19 at noon.

Autographs were the last thing on my mind for this game, but I always come prepared just in case I see somebody.

The game itself was an amazing one. It was everything I could have asked for my first (and last) playoff game at Nassau Coliseum. In case you don't know what happened, here's how the game ended.

After the game, I didn't have my voice for a few days.

But during the game, something cool happened. At the second intermission, I went to go use the bathroom, which can be a difficult and time consuming task at the Coliseum, which may be one of the reasons they are leaving. Instead of trying to find one on the concourse, which is impossible during an intermission, I headed down to the lower lobby.

The lower lobby is where I've met many Isladner greats by the MSG studio. This season alone, I've met legends Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, and Denis Potvin. But since this game was televised live nationally on NBC, there was no show at the studio today.

While in line for the men's room, I noticed someone familiar walking toward me. After someone took a selfie with him, I realized it was Islander great Clark Gillies. I had left my bag with my sharpies and stuff to get signed at my seat, so the only option I had was to go for a photo. I went to ask for it, but he said he would be right back before walking down a VIP tunnel.

A few minutes later, Gillies emerged and was walking through the crowd quickly. After signing an autograph for someone else, I took my phone out and went next to him for a selfie. He smiled and I took the photo on the right. I think he was sitting in the stands and had to go to the bathroom at the intermission. Since his name is in the rafters, he can do whatever he wants. I got his autograph a few times before, so I wasn't upset about missing out on the chance for the autograph. It isn't the greatest selfie, but it is a selfie with a Hall of Famer, so I won't complain.

That was a pretty cool moment, and another one happened at the end of the game. As everyone was leaving, I was in no rush. I just sat in my seat and absorbed the Nassau Coliseum atmosphere one last time. When I finally left my seat, I walked down toward the concourse to go outside.

Once I entered the concourse, I noticed a group of people just standing around. After walking toward that area, I noticed it was another Islander legend, Bob Nystrom. Nystrom isn't in the Hall of Fame, but he scored the greatest goal in Islanders history to give them their first Stanley Cup in 1980.

Unlike Gillies, Nystrom was in no rush. He was shaking every hand and taking every photo with anyone who asked. I brought a puck with me and asked him to sign it. He signed it, but my silver sharpie was dead and the autograph is barely visible, as you can see on the right. He then used my sharpie to sign a woman's hoodie and a couple tickets, which came out better than my puck.

Since the puck came out bad, I wanted to get another autograph. Nystrom was still busy taking pictures so I had a minute to dig out an Islanders team logo sheet from my bag. I previously got Rick Bowness and Butch Goring to sign the sheet with a black sharpie. I had no black sharpie with me, and I grabbed the first one I could find out of my bag. That one turned out to be orange, which was fine because it's an Islanders color. Nystrom signed the logo sheet with the orange sharpie, adding the third signature to my sheet.

Before Nystrom left, I took a selfie with him and thanked him for his time. That photo turned out to be the final one I ever took inside Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. A selfie with the man who helped put the Islanders on the hockey map.

That's all for this entry. Thanks for reading. Farewell Nassau Coliseum. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hamilton Bulldogs @ Adirondack Flames 3/25/15

I'm finally catching up on blog entries. Here goes a pretty big one.

This was the last time I ever went to Glens Falls Civic Center to see an AHL morning skate. After the Adirondack Flames season ended, they moved west and will begin play in the AHL's new Pacific Division next year.

I already graphed the Hamilton Bulldogs earlier this season, but a friend invited me to go with him, and I couldn't say no to one last trip to Glens Falls.

We got there right when the Flames were in the midst of their morning skate, and as soon as we got there, the ink was flowing.

A few weeks earlier, I picked up a Calgary Flames pennant at the local mall for less than $4. Can't go wrong with that. I didn't need to get another team sheet signed by the Flames, so I figured the pennant would be a nice addition.

As soon as I got to the gate to the ice, players started coming off and signing the pennant. I'll post the whole list a little further down. But a funny story happened when one player came off the ice. New guy Oleg Yevenko came off the ice, and I asked him to sign the pennant. He said, "Are you sure?" Once I told him I was sure, he signed it and went to the locker room. When I asked Trevor Gillies to sign the pennant, he picked it up, held it against the glass and signed it.

The only Flame who signed something that wasn't the pennant was Devin Setoguchi. I had a few cards of him, and he signed them nicely when he come off the ice. Here are the cards. He then signed 11 cards for someone else before heading into the locker room.

And here is the pennant and a list of everyone who signed it, in no particular order. Click on the photo to zoom in and see the photo better. I got the pennant signed in black instead of blue.
24-Trevor Gillies 23-Brett Cameron 18-Oleg Yevenko 39-Brad Thiessen
35-Doug Carr 36-Cam Reid 34-Taylor Vause 28-Ben Hanowski
38-Nolan Yonkman 7-John Ramage 14-Mark Cundari 2-Brett Kulak 
3-Ryan Culkin 13-Turner Elson 15-Ken Agostino 9-Garnet Hathaway 
21-Emile Poirier 4-Sena Acolaste 20-Brant Harris 6-Dustin Stevenson 
16-Mathieu Tousignant 30-Clay Witt
I don't know who signed inside the C on the logo. Anybody know who that is?

After all the Flames left the ice, I headed over to the other side just in time to see the Bulldogs enter the ice. I had a few photos of some players and some blank 4x6 team cards. A friend also gave me some cards, which were useful. 

One of the first autographs I got was of former goalie and current assistant coach Vincent Riendeau. He signed two card a friend gave me. He wasn't on the ice for the skate, he was just watching from the stands. He signed a whole bunch of cards for other people. Nice guy. 

Eventually, the players started coming off the ice after the morning skate. One of the ones I easily recognized was former New York Islander Joe Finely. He signed a cool photo from his Islanders days fro me. Here's the photo. No, they didn't wear those uniforms during the game.

One of the first players off the ice was the starting goalie for that night's game, Mike Condon. I took a photo with him last time, and I had printed out a copy for him to sign. He said he really liked the photo and happily signed it for me.

Another player that I recognized by his uniform number was Sven Andrighetto. He is one of the top rated prospects in the Canadiens' system. A friend had given me a custom card that he acquired of Andrighetto. Since Andrighetto had never seen the card before, my friend gave him a card to keep. That seemed to make him happy. He signed the photo and one of the cards for me.

Another player who I had a 4x6 photo of was Eric Tangradi. He and Trevor Gillies have a history from their days with the Penguins and Islanders, respectively. If you don't remember that, click HERE and be reminded of that. Tangradi signed a photo from his days with the Winnipeg Jets and a few cards for some other players.

I was given a bunch of cards of head coach Sylvain Lefebvre. He signed them all for me after coming off the ice. Pretty much everyone signed everything for everyone on the day.

Fellow assistant coach Stephan Lebeau also signed a few cards for me. I wanted him to sign one where he is wearing a dark uniform in silver sharpie, and it didn't come out too well. Always use blue on cards, end of story.

I had a few blank logo photos, and here is a photo of a player that I can't identify signing one for me. I had my GoPro camera with me, and I got some cool shots during the day. Here is one of them. This is what happened with all the players. If you know who this is, comment and let me know.

The last assistant coach that I got an autograph of was Donald Dufrense. He signed a card and one of the 4x6 logo photos for me. Here is a photo of him signing for me that my GoPro took.

Here are the two blank photo sheets and the players that signed them for me.
(Top Left)-T.J. Hensick 16-Bobby Shea 10-Charles Hudon
6-Bryan Allen 7-Darren Dietz (Bottom Right)-Frank Palazzese 
(Top Left)-Donald Dufrense 15-Drayson Bowman
12-Maxime Macenauer 21-Nick Sorkin 

That is all for this entry and that's it for the AHL season. It was an amazing one to say the least. Thanks for reading and good luck graphing!