The Islanders will begin play of their final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in October and to commemorate the final year, Islanders Point Blank will take a look back at some of the greatest moments in the old barn’s history. Each week we will highlight one memorable moment, whether it be hockey related or not. So, let’s begin…
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:It should come as no surprise as to which moment we start off with; Bobby Nystrom’s overtime goal to clinch the first of four Stanley Cups the Islanders would win from 1980 to 1983.
For any Islander fan — young or old — they know the call by CBC’s Jim Robson by heart. “Pass right on the stick of Tonelli. Coming in with Nystrom… Tonelli to Nystrom… He scores!”
The day was May 24, 1980. The Islanders and Flyers were tied at four at 7:11 in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. John Tonelli entered the Flyers zone and feed the puck to “Mr. Islander” Bobby Nystrom, who put the puck past goaltender Peter Peeters. The crowd erupted, the players celebrated in jubilation and an NHL Dynasty was born.
In a New York Times interview in 2013, Nystrom called Game 6 his favorite memory of playing at Nassau Coliseum:
“I would have to say my favorite moment playing at the Coliseum was Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the warm-up, the crowd was as loud as any crowd I’ve ever played in front of. I had chills running up and down my spine and almost broke out in tears while I was skating around trying to get ready for the game. The fans stood on their feet and cheered continuously for the entire warm-up. The ending of the game wasn’t that bad either.”
Nystrom’s goal remains the most famous in New York Islander history. The goal began the Islanders four year run as kings of the National Hockey League and put Long Island on the map. It also united Long Islanders as Steve Jacobson wrote in Newsday back in 1980:
Fans jiggled and jumped up and down and opened that champagne in the seats that had barely contained them all afternoon. The red light still glowed like a phrase from “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the goal at the North Shore end of the ice, and overhead the scoreboard hung in a frozen page of the Stanley Cup record book: Islanders 5, Flyers 4, time stopped at 12:49 at the image in lights of Bobby Nystrom. It was sudden death and the sudden rush that Long Island really never had before, a come-together party the poor Nets never felt.
It was an identity, dispelling the shadow of the big-city superiority the Rangers had cast for so long and the embarrassment of losing to them last year in what could have been called a civic disaster if there had been anything to be called a civic.
“We’re not New York, New Yorkers, we’re Long Islanders,” proclaimed Ted Theodoreopolis of North Babylon. “It’s a poor man’s way to be involved with the team, to be a winner. If they win, you’re a winner.”