As I wipe the sleep out of my eyes this morning, it’s as if last night’s 4-3 overtime win over the Panthers was a dream. I had to check my phone this morning right away to confirm my excitement. It actually feels like I played three periods of hockey, plus overtime! My entire body aches. I can only imagine what the actual players feel like today.
Heading into Game 3, I was hoping the Islanders fans would bring their “A” game, as much as the players would. I wasn’t disappointed. Hours before the puck was dropped, faithful fans showed up in Brooklyn to start new playoff traditions. They cheered on the LIRR and danced with the band out in front of the arena.
Also, according to my parents, who drove 12 hours from Michigan to be a part of the action, the local bars were packed with blue-and-orange. Three hours before the game, my mom texted me to say it was already getting wild. Fans were bursting into ‘Let’s Go Islanders!’ chants on the streets and in subway stations.
As I prepared for the MSG Networks pregame show, I could see the line of people waiting to get into Barclays Center. When the doors opened, energy from the fans immediately filled the arena. It was loud … and it was awesome.
The game itself was a fantastic playoff ride. It was just like a rollercoaster – there were ups and there were downs. But, when Frans Nielsen scored to tie the game in the second period, I think everyone in Manhattan and on Long Island could hear the crowd at Barclays Center. “YES! YES! YES!” filled the air and it gave me goose bumps.
Once the game went into overtime, Rick DiPietro and I nervously stood by the glass on the side where the Isles were shooting. When I saw Thomas Hickey score the game-winning goal, I did everything in my power not to jump up and hug someone. What an unbelievable ending to that game. And, I couldn’t be happier for Thomas, too. He’s such a hard worker and such a class act, on and off the ice.
The Islanders really do know how to celebrate …
My favorite quote of the night during the post game interviews focused on the huge comeback win. Jack Capuano said, “This is just the team that we are. We’re not going away.” The Isles are a confident team right now, with a 2-1 series lead. It’s a tough road ahead and they will need all the help they can get to take down the Panthers.
So, to all the Isles fans out there, Game 4 is a few short days away. Continue to show the NHL and Brooklyn who you are, and let the team know you’re not going away either.