The New York Islanders hope its preseason victory over the Devils foreshadows future success at the Barclays Center.
New York defeated the New Jersey Devils 3–2 behind Brock Nelson’s shootout winner in front of a crowd of 11,823 at their new home for the 2015–16 season.
Islander’s captain John Tavares is excited about the future in Brooklyn.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I think you get a better feeling of what it’s like out there, so the comfort level is a little better. It’s nice to see what the future is going to be like.”
Playing the game in a new arena had its challenges and perks. Islander goalie Chad Johnson, who made 26 saves, saw the ice conditions become an issue during the contest.
“It was sticky at times,” he said. “Pushes were hard to slide over, but it is what it is. It’s ice, so you kind of have to deal with it. Both teams are out there playing on it.”
Fans sitting in seats in the 100 and 200 sections closest to the main entrance of the Barclays Center had an obstructed view of the goal in their end. But veteran Scott Gomez, who is trying out with New Jersey, still likes the idea of hockey in Brooklyn.
“I think it’s great if they figure out the seating and stuff, the lighting and everything,” Gomez said. “It’s Brooklyn, I think the guys are excited. I think if they get the kinks worked out it’s great for Brooklyn and the tri-state area.”
Despite a few negatives, there were plenty positive features of the arena compared to the team’s current home at the Nassau Coliseum, according to Tavares, who enjoyed the extra space by the locker room to prepare for the game.
“We get to use a nice basketball court for our warm up,” he said. “I kind of like that.”
The move to Brooklyn divides Islanders fans split between those excited about the new venue, and those who still hold an affinity for the Nassau Coliseum and its history. Devil’s goalie Keith Kinkaid grew up an Islanders fan in Farmingville and said he’s going to miss the old arena.
“I am not too happy about the move to be honest,” he said. “I went to the Coliseum for a playoff game a couple of years ago and that was the loudest building I’ve ever heard. This one is a little bit more open. The seats aren’t as full because it’s preseason, but I think I like the Coliseum better.”
The Islanders gave Brooklyn fans a taste of what to expect during the regular season. The team got on the board with a power play goal from defenseman Ryan Pulock when he ripped the puck past Kinkaid to score the Islanders’ first goal in Brooklyn. The Islanders got shut out 3–0 last year against the Devils in a preseason game at Barclays Center.
“I think scoring that first goal is pretty cool,” Pulock said.
Just over three minutes after Pulock’s goal, Colin McDonald capitalized off a misplayed puck by Kinkaid to give the Isles an early 2–0 edge. New Jersey scored two power play goals, from Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder, in the second and third period to tie the score and set up the shutout where Nelson was the hero. The team aims for a successful season this year into Brooklyn.
“The goals is, we want to get back to the playoffs and compete for a cup,” Tavares said. “I think that’s where the focus is, and if we do that going into next year, it will take care of itself.”