ice age

words: niina pollari

photography: nils ericson

After 43 years in the crumbling hulk of Long Island's beloved Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders' move to the glossy spaceship of Brooklyn's Barclays Center feels like arriving on a strange planet. This season, much of their fan base will also travel, making the trek to watch home games in an unfamiliar arena that's optimized for basketball. On October 9, 2015, at the Isles' sold-out opener against the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks, the crowd was hometown-rowdy, decked out in orange and blue and hoping to draw first blood.

Islanders fans are nothing if not life-affirmingly appreciative: their chant of "Yes! Yes! Yes!" (borrowed from wrestling's Daniel Bryan) tears through the air after every goal. In an effort to make the sonic landscape feel even more like home for fans and team alike, Barclays brought in the Isles' warm Lowrey organ and its longtime player, retired air traffic controller and volunteer firefighter Paul Cartier.

The Islanders are the last team to have won four Stanley Cups in a row (1979-80 to 1982-83), but they haven't made it to a final since 1984. Their now-crosstown rivals, the New York Rangers, knocked them out of last week's playoffs in the first round. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, after their own 49-year drought, have won three of the last six Cups.

Team captain and star John Tavares may have scored the first home goal, but things got truly interesting when defenseman Marek Židlický tied the game early in the third with a wrist shot past the Hawks' Corey Crawford. At 38, Židlický is an NHL veteran, but this was his first official game as an Islander.

Every new home needs a housewarming, and the Islanders waited a long time for theirs—the move from Nassau to Barclays was announced more than three years ago. They would have to wait a little longer for a victory. Hawks' winger Patrick Kane spoiled the party less than two minutes into overtime. Three days later, the Islanders beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 for their first home win.