Nassau Coliseum: home to the New York Islanders since 1972. “The Barn,” as referred to by Islanders fans, is a very unique arena. It happens to be one of the smallest arenas in the NHL, only holding 14,500 people. Although it is very small, it happens to be the loudest. The fans give the Islanders the ultimate feeling of “home-ice advantage” as Nassau Coliseum is always rocking during a game. With constant chants, taunting, and singing: let’s evaluate how beneficial it is for the Islanders to play at the Coliseum.
Regardless if the fans are present or not, the Islanders seem to be very confident on their home ice. This past season, where fans were prohibited, the Islanders posted a 21-4-3 record at home. That record is exceptional and it goes to show that these players love their home ice.
Now, let’s get to the fans. Islanders fans are among the craziest in the NHL, maybe even in sports altogether. No players want to face the Islanders at the coliseum because they are aware of what they are going to get. After every hit, the stadium erupts. After every faceoff win, the stadium erupts. After a missed call by the referee, the stadium erupts. You get the point: Islanders fans love their team.
When I go to games I constantly see people wearing headphones or putting earplugs in. The stadium is so condensed that the sound vibrates off the roof and the walls. Islanders players have said the ice has vibrated before due to the noise made by the crowd. Having such a loud and devoted fanbase provides the team with the best home-ice advantage.
The classic “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant is huge for the Islanders’ fans and players. The fans love doing it and the players love making the fans do it. Every single person in the stadium, besides opposing fans, gets on their feet and points their arms up and down chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” after every goal. Players tend to celebrate by doing the motion after scoring and after victories, the team comes together at center ice and does it as a group. It is hard for an opposing team to concentrate on the game when the fans do this chant after every goal. I have watched most of the NHL teams and have seen them score, no fanbase does anything like this after a goal.
The “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant is one of many celebrations that the fans do. The Islanders fans made a song to the beat of If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands about the New York Rangers. Every fan, usually during the 2nd period, stands on their feet and sings the childish song. Fans also taunt specific players by mocking their names. For example, in Game 4 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the entire stadium was chanting the name “Jarry:” Pittsburgh’s goaltender. The fans do this to get in the player’s head and it usually works; in this example, Tristan Jarry let up 4 goals that game.
What stands out most about the Islanders fans is their willingness to chant whatever they want. For players that the fanbase hates, specifically John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, inappropriate language is used in chants to make the other team mad. This tactic does not only affect the star player, but it also makes the other team mad which leads them to make mistakes or take bad penalties. Fans are seen throwing things on the ice or even throwing things at specific players. When John Tavares returned to the Coliseum, someone threw an old Tavares Islanders jersey at him as he was walking off for warm-ups.
Islanders fans are not ruthless to only the other team, but the referees too. Every missed call or bad call, the fans go crazy. Chants pour down such as “refs suck” or other inappropriate phrases that I will not write here. This is not a proven fact, however, I believe refs have favored the Islanders solely as a result of their fear of backlash from the fans.
Don’t get me wrong, the Islanders are an amazing team. However, even if years they were terrible, they have always played well at the Coliseum. The fans mentally mess with the other team which interferes with their gameplay. While doing that, they are getting the Islanders’ players pumped up so that they want to be the reason the fans chant “Yes! Yes! Yes!” The Islanders players and fans feed off of each other, giving them the best home-ice advantage in hockey.
Photo: John McCreary/Icon Sportswire