The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs have progressed nicely in Brooklyn, and I can say that I am fortunate enough to have attended Games 3 and 4. Today, I will be attending Game 6 as well. While the transition to Brooklyn hasn’t been the smoothest, the Playoff transition has gone a little easier.
The Islanders and the Barclays have taken a few different steps to make sure that the arena is a little more like home. From league and team logos to the atmosphere in general – it all feels better. They’ve even spent a great deal of attention to the quality of the ice sheet – which is a story for another blog.
Along the way, we have witnessed another 100 point season and various lengths of strong and not-so strong play (some would say typical of the Islanders). We have made new memories with a Game 3 OT winner by Thomas Hickey and rallied behind the team as they tried to come back again in Game 4. It was loud in Brooklyn, dare I say almost as loud as it was at times at the Coliseum.
More importantly, we have forged some new traditions as well.
During my lifetime, I was never more than 25 traffic lights from the Old Barn. The travel to the Coliseum was always easy (unless there was a bunch of traffic on Hempstead Turnpike). That changed a bit when I moved into Eastern Suffolk, but I still made it a point to get to as many games as I could. During the Playoffs, we had the parking lot and the amazing tradition of tailgating and all the fun that came with that. We went out with a bang before the Barn Doors slammed shut after that thrilling Game 6 win over the Capitals.
This year, I made it to TWO regular season games – for various reasons. Those were my first two experiences with the Barclays, we’ll call it a dry run for the Playoffs. With those two trips, I adapted to the change.
It may not be the most ideal of situations, but the train ride to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal has become the new tailgate experience. I’ve met a bunch of wonderful fans and had so many awesome Islanders conversations along the way. Coincidentally, I have run into many of the very fans I used to see regularly as a season ticket holder and friends outside of the Isles that I have not seen in a few years.
And then, you have Brooklyn itself.
In the immediate areas around the Barclays – there are a ton of really fun places to spend an hour or two in prior to the puck drop. We’ve adopted KBH on St Marks as the pre-game venue of choice, a short two block walk to and from the arena.
In the end, the Barclays is not and never will be that “home” just a few traffic lights away from where I grew up, but it’s slowly becoming the home of Islanders hockey. Even if that home requires counting train stations.
Let’s make it loud tonight, just like it was 4 years ago to the day of that Shawn Bates penalty shot against Toronto.