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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The first $17 can of beer hit the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum ice roughly 20 seconds after New York Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime goal.
Then another. Then another. Then what seemed like an entire brewery’s inventory landed on the ice as the Islanders mobbed the overtime hero at the end of Game 6 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“The building coming into overtime smelled like cigarettes, and now it smells like beer,” Beauvillier said jokingly afterward.
As the Islanders celebrated Wednesday night, the cans kept flying. Some had enough liquid inside of them that it sprayed out like a comet’s tail on the way to the ice. Others exploded on impact, leaving yellow streaks on the pristine sheet. The sight of trash being hurled onto the ice at the end of an NHL game usually signifies that a hated rival was victorious or that the fans were enraged by shoddy officiating. Yet here, euphoria was the catalyst for the littering.
“Yeah, that was amazing,” Islanders star Mathew Barzal said with a slight chuckle. “In overtime, I’ve never seen anything like that. A little dangerous, but you don’t see that too often, so we embraced it. That’s the Islanders faithful. They’re passionate. They get excited. It was good stuff.”
It was also surreal, with the benefit of hindsight, because Beauvillier’s goal is expected to be the last one ever scored by an Islanders player at Nassau Coliseum — almost 49 years after Billy Harris netted the first one on Oct. 12, 1972. This was the team’s last season at the Coliseum. The Islanders are moving to a new building starting in the 2021-22 season: UBS Arena, a state-of-the-art facility built next to Belmont Park racetrack.
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It was as if with every can that hit the ice, the fans were “pouring one out” for the old hockey barn, even if they didn’t know that was the case at the time.
“We really believed we were going to win a Cup and give Nassau Coliseum one last dance. We kind of felt like the stars were aligning. For it to end so abruptly, you don’t see it coming,” winger Matt Martin told WFAN on Monday, three days after the Islanders were eliminated by the Lightning in Game 7.
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