UBS Arena opening night, the day New York Islanders fans waited for. After a historic 13-game road trip and a farewell to the legendary Nassau Coliseum, loud and proud Isles fans filtered into UBS Arena and settled into their new seats, prepared to watch their team take on the Calgary Flames.
Chants erupted almost immediately, even as fans found out that a COVID outbreak hit the Islanders’ dressing room.
The state-of-the-art rink at UBS Arena is enough to excite fans, with an exposed brick exterior, a large jumbotron in the middle of the ice, plenty of bathrooms, food options, and excellent sightlines. Contactless ticket scanning makes for smoother entry into the arena, and Islanders legendary facts adorn the walls, naturally painted in Islanders colors to highlight the hockey club and its historic moments.
As fans settled into their seats, a light show offered a glimpse into what the arena will be able to do for concerts, with upcoming tours from Harry Styles, Twenty One Pilots and more making stops in Long Island.
The hope is that the arena will go completely carbon neutral by the end of 2022, which would make it the first building that does so on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
UBS Arena has odes to its predecessor, Nassau Coliseum, too–with a low ceiling and memories of the Islanders celebrating “The Barn” adorning the walls. The two arenas are mere miles apart, with both in Long Island, about an hour’s drive out of New York City.
For game nights and other entertainment events, a special train–as well as special buses–that only come and go from UBS Arena mimic the transportation situation at MetLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of both the New York Jets and the New York Giants. It allows for easy transportation in and out of New York City, as the Long Island Rail Road takes fans right back to Penn Station in about a half-hour.
At the start of the first game at UBS Arena on November 20, 2021, fans were buzzing with excitement, treated to a special performance as well as speeches and an ode to former owner Charles Wang, who passed away in 2018.
The lineup, depleted as it was, debuted on the ice to loud cheering and celebration, and the team’s identity line in Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin opened the game. Cheers quickly turned to criticism of the team’s mediocre performance, especially through the first two periods. While they started to buzz in the third, the Islanders fell 5-2 to the Calgary Flames, and two of the goals were empty netters. Both goals for the home team were scored by Brock Nelson.
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The next night, fans returned to UBS Arena, in the hopes of a rebound, when the Islanders took on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Unfortunately, though, opening weekend was spoiled again, and the Leafs shut out the Isles 3-0 (though there were no shortage of boos when John Tavares touched the puck).
Because of the disappointing play of the home team on opening weekend and later in the week, when the club fell 1-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Isles fans will have to wait for the first win at UBS Arena and, for now, Brock Nelson is the only Islander to score in the club’s new building.