The New York Islanders’ 3-2 overtime victory brought back fond memories for Long Island’s faithful crowd.

  • New York Islanders 3 (1-0-1)
  • Philadelphia Flyers 2 (0-0-1)
  • NHL, Preseason, Final, Box Score
  • Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
It was as loud as we remember it.

An exasperated crowd roared back to life as John Tavares buried his second goal of the game and the overtime winner, bringing the fans back to a time before Brooklyn and reminding fans — old and new — what it could have been like if things had been different.

Early morning on Sunday at around 8 a.m., fans gathered as they did several hundred times before in the parking lot of the Nassau Coliseum.

The usual sounds of pregame banter, “Let’s Go Islanders” chants and laughter floated around the parking lot, inflating the air full of raw energy.

Several different fan groups represented in droves, including the Isles Fanatics, Nomad Fans and of course the Blue and Orange Army, among others. As puck drop edged nearer and nearer, the energy felt all the more palpable, as it amassed itself into the roars of “Let’s Go Islanders” as the blue and orange took the ice for their first preseason contest.

Even for a preseason contest, it was clear early on that this game meant so much more.

For one more afternoon, the New York Islanders gave their fans a reason to celebrate at the Coliseum after a 3-2 overtime victory courtesy of John Tavares’ two-goal effort.

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun to be back out here. I think we know what this place means to everybody that’s been involved with the Islanders. It was a lot of fun, there was a lot of emotion out there,” said Tavares.

A very particular fondness and appreciation washed over me as I exited the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, but it didn’t stem from Tavares’ incredible effort. It was being on Eastern Long Island, in the arena that was called “home” for 43 years. Even after what some describe as a $165 million face-lift, the atmosphere was still very much intact — and so was the heart of the arena, as it bellowed “Bring Them Back!” as the Islanders exited the ice.

It was listening to a father explain the rule of icing to his four-year-old daughter and sharing a shopping cart pretzel after the game with a friend. It was about being asked to take a couple’s picture as fans filed out of the Coliseum and learning that he had proposed to his then-girlfriend at the Coliseum.

It’s all about that close-knit family feeling that can only be shared by a group of individuals passionate enough to journey out as far as three hours away — in Long Island traffic mind you — to rock the barn one more time with those who understand the meaning of fandom best.

Even if returning isn’t in the Islanders plans, it’s a pipe-dream that we want to live in and get lost in just one more time.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.