Billboards are urging New York Islanders fans to “bring your roar to Brooklyn.” Since there’s little chance they would invest either emotionally or financially in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Manhattan-based team, Brooklyn it will be.
Besides checking out the Islanders’ new home, there are other reasons Isles fans should visit Brooklyn in the coming months. For starters, the Islanders qualified for the NHL playoffs in two out of the last three seasons, and their 2015-16 roster features many of the same players who got them there.
The Islanders’ training camp opens on Thursday, Sept. 17, and their first exhibition game is on Monday, Sept. 21, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, situated at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, a short walk from the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Atlantic Terminal station. The puck drops on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., and the opponent is the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Isles open their regular season at home, on Friday, Oct. 9, against the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL’s defending Stanley Cup champions.
Chicago has numerous All-Stars but the Islanders had two All-Stars
of their own last season, John Tavares and Jaroslav Halak. Tavares, the team captain and a Hart Trophy (given to the NHL’s most valuable player) finalist, is the Isles’ top scoring threat while Halak provided outstanding goal tending in his first season with the Isles. Forwards Ryan Strome and Anders Lee, with their first full NHL seasons under their respective belts, and Brock Nelson, who just completed his second NHL campaign, are expected to take the next step in their development in 2015-16. Those three should provide additional offensive firepower.
To serve as Halak’s backup, the Islanders signed in the off-season free agent Thomas Greiss, a 29-year-old veteran who played most recently for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defense, however, was already an Islander strength, with standouts like Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic patrolling the blue line. Indeed, Hamonic’s presence was noticeably missed when an injury kept him out of April 2015’s playoff series against the Capitals, which the Isles lost in the seventh and final game in Washington, DC.
Without debating the merits of watching a hockey game at Barclays Center versus the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, it can be safely said traveling to an Islanders game should get easier, whether your trip originates in either Nassau or Suffolk. The lead story of August 2015’s Train Talk, a LIRR publication, offered the details in an article which carried this headline: “LIRR Welcomes Islanders Hockey to Brooklyn with More Service.”
Islander fans traveling westbound for weekend Islander home games at Barclays Center will benefit from two extra LIRR trains. Both will operate directly to Brooklyn with no need either to transfer or change trains at LIRR’s Jamaica station. “One extra train will depart from Farmingdale, making all stops to New Hyde Park, then Jamaica, then Atlantic Terminal,” Train Talk stated. “The other train will depart from Babylon, making all local stops through Rockville Centre, then Jamaica, then Atlantic Terminal.” The specific train departure times will be posted soon at the LIRR’s website.
The LIRR’s eastbound return trips from Barclays Center, one to Farmingdale and the other to Babylon, will leave from the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal station 20 minutes after the conclusion of each Islanders home game, whether it is played on a weeknight or a weekend, according to the same Train Talk article. A disclaimer: if on game day there’s a LIRR power outage west of Jamaica, such as the one which occurred on Wednesday morning, Sept. 2, feel free to drive to Brooklyn.
Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.