No sleep till Belmont: Islanders’ new home arena on horizon

NEW YORK — On a rainy morning at Belmont Park, boots are an absolute necessity to trudge through the mud at the construction site of the New York Islanders’ new arena.

It’s been a slog to get to this point, but brighter days are ahead.

After more than a decade of uncertainty about where the Islanders will play their home games, including an ill-fated stint in Brooklyn at an arena not built for hockey, they will open shiny, new UBS Arena this fall.

New York is playing this NHL postseason in the old barn that housed four Stanley Cup-winning teams during the early 1980s glory days and the new arena is being built to replicate Nassau Coliseum’s raucous home-ice advantage.

“It’s been a long time coming,” 29-year-old fan James Chryssos said. “It’s been incredible to watch it actually come to fruition. All the ups and downs from the Lighthouse Project to Barclays and all the craziness. Finally getting those shovels in the ground and then hopefully finally getting in the seats, it’s going to feel real and that’s a feeling that I can’t describe.”

The Lighthouse Project was aimed at transforming the Coliseum before it was nixed by Nassau County voters in 2011. The Islanders moved to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015 to play in a building with an unusual configuration; the scoreboard embarrassingly hung over a blue line instead of center ice.

Don’t worry: UBS Arena will have a brand new video board in its rightful spot above the center faceoff circle.

And the Islanders will be in their rightful spot on Long Island, eight miles down the Hempstead Turnpike from Nassau Coliseum, centrally located among their most diehard fans. With a new, permanent Long Island Railroad station in the works and thousands of parking spots, senior vice president of sales Mike Cosentino said the team is weeks away from selling out season tickets.

“You can feel the excitement,” Cosentino said. “And this was even before this team has started playoffs. It’s pure enthusiasm for UBS Arena and the big move and having a forever home for our fans.”

Leaving Nassau Coliseum is a difficult step for fans given the nostalgia. Not only is there the connection to the early ’80s dynasty but it boasts an old-school atmosphere that doesn’t exist much in the NHL anymore even with a relatively small capacity of 13,917.

“This is a throwback building,” coach Barry Trotz said. “People are on top of you. They feel like they’re all closer. They’re all sitting on your bench, basically. And the new buildings have a vastness to it that doesn’t quite feel the same.”

Not so fast when it comes to UBS Arena. Everything from acoustics and the low ceiling — only 3 feet higher than Nassau Coliseum, which opened in 1972 — to a big lower bowl surrounding the ice is designed to bring the noise.

“It was built for hockey and made for music,” said Peter Luukko, facilities chairman of Oak View Group, which manages the arena. “We’ll have some sound-absorbing panels for concerts but also the ability to be a great, loud barn for hockey.”

Nassau Coliseum has an atmosphere even a hated opponent can love. After scoring an overtime winner to silence Islanders fans Thursday night, Boston’s Brad Marchand said: “They were loud. They were loud tonight. I’ll give them credit. They were loud.”

That loudness won’t stop at the new building, which is expected to house roughly 17,000 for hockey and should be full to the brim when it opens in November. The famous “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “Let’s Go Islanders!” chants will follow.

Luukko, who has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers, described the Islanders fan base as “very Northeast” with a Long Island twist. He is proud of fans sticking through some adversity to get to this point.

“It’s no secret that there was some lean years,” Luukko said. “There were discussions of the team possibly even moving. No finality on a home. Just to see how that base has stuck together and, listen, this arena’s going to sell out, it’s just amazing.”

UBS Arena is set to have a supporters section like soccer stadiums — at the end where the opponent will be on offense for two periods — and all the bells and whistles that come with modern technology. Players will have high-tech tubs, a two-floor gym and a lounge. General manager Lou Lamoriello’s input included making the home locker room smaller for camaraderie.

Fans will have the choice of 56 suites and amenities nonexistent at Nassau Coliseum. The old concourses that squeeze fans together will be replaced by open space at the new place with an entryway designed like Grand Central Terminal. The brick façade matches nearby Belmont Park, which opened in 1905, and windows offer a view of the New York skyline.

Once at their seats, fans will be close to the ice like a throwback building of eras past.

Luukko said it was important that everyone from ice row to the top deck feel like they’re in the game now that the Islanders will remain on Long Island.

“It brings stability to the franchise in terms of, ‘OK now we do have that home, that permanent home,’” he said. “It gives the fans a place to go and that feeling certainly that the Islanders are going to be on the Island forever.”

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.