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Fish Sticks; Smiles all around in Coliseum return

In case you haven’t heard, the Islanders played a hockey game on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, this wasn’t just any old game. This was the first game at the Nassau Coliseum in nearly three seasons, and a homecoming of sorts for both fans and players alike.

The Islanders went down 2-0 in the second period and all hope looked to be lost. However, a wonky goal off the shoulder of Anders Lee, a stuffed rebound by Anthony Beauvillier, and a slick feed from Ryan Pulock to Casey Cizikas salvaged what would have been a hugely disappointing loss.

The Islanders won 3-2 but the game had so much more meaning than just in the standings. Yes the Islanders snuck back into the three slot in a crowded Metro division, but it was the bond between the fans and the players that set the tone for the night.

I don’t think people realize outside of Long Island what this team means to Islander fans. Everyone likes to harp on the 7000 fans that would show up to the Coliseum in 2010, but they forget that every team that’s been bad for an extended period of time has a lull in attendance.

The Blackhawks are in the second biggest city in the U.S. and had trouble filling their arena before Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Hell, they didn’t even have a TV contract thanks to Rocky Wirtz. People are so quick to dismiss that and just assume that the Isles have bad fans.

Saturday proves that not only do the Islanders have fans, but they have some of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in any sport. Casey Cizikas was grinning ear to ear speaking to Shannon Hogan post game, Anthony Beauvillier had a big smile after his huge goal, and the entire locker room rallied around the Coliseum.

It was as good of an outcome as there could be at the Coliseum. Smiles all around, strangers hugging each other, players soaking up the moment. It felt like home again, for the first time in ages. After essentially becoming outcasts in their own home building, the Islanders have found a new place to call home. It may not be permanent but it damn sure beats playing in Brooklyn.

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