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. 

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