Dan Feeney grew up near Chicago, went to college at Indiana and most recently played for the Chargers.
But on Saturday, he became an honorary Long Islander – and he just might be a meme the Islanders take with them on the road to bigger and better playoff things ahead.
On a wild afternoon at Nassau Coliseum, the recently signed Jets offensive lineman, standing beside rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, spoke for most of the building and beyond in the second period when he chugged a (presumably adult) beverage, slammed the container against his mullet-coiffed head and let out an epic cheer – all of it captured on national television.
That as well as anything summed up the day for the home team, which began the afternoon facing the possibility of playing the last game ever at the Coliseum and ended it with a rousing 4-1 victory over the Penguins.
The result tied the teams’ first-round playoff series at 2-2 and ensured at least one more Islanders game at the Coliseum – Game 6 on Wednesday night.
"I’ll tell you what: What a great atmosphere," coach Barry Trotz said when it was over. "They gave us some juice tonight. They were fantastic."
Attendance again was limited to 6,800 or so, but it did not seem to matter.
"The crowd is a big factor in this building, and (they) have to continue to give us their best," Trotz said. "We’ll give our best; they’ve got to give their best. I thought they did today."
Trotz then referenced "the Jets players having a ball at a hockey game" and the Islanders alumni in the house, including Matt Moulson, Richie Hansen, Shawn Bates and Marty Reasoner.
Of course, the party would have been a dud had not the Islanders taken care of business on the ice.
They did, getting off to their best start of the series, playing lockdown defense in front of rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin and coming at the Pens in waves, with help from every corner of the roster.
It was the Islanders playing the way they were built to play, and it bodes well for their chances in what is now a best-of-three series, starting Monday in Pittsburgh.
"If you look at when we have success, everybody contributes, and we rely on each other," Trotz said. "There’s a great brotherhood in our room and everybody has a piece of the big picture.
"All four lines, when they’re contributing and playing the right way and invested, that’s when we have the best chance to win most nights."
There are no guarantees, of course. These are evenly matched teams, only one of which has Sidney Crosby in its lineup.
"It’s a pretty veteran group over on the other side," Mathew Barzal said, "so whatever we did tonight, they’ve probably already forgotten about it and they’re going to be fresh for Game 5."
But the Islanders do have at least one more game in the series at their not-so-secret weapon of an arena.
"Coming out, you hear them chanting; it’s a fun place to play," Jordan Eberle said. "We fed off their intensity right from puck drop."
Said Trotz, "It was hard not to be excited today. The crowd and the atmosphere in this building is absolutely fantastic."
Sorokin did not play in Game 3, so this was his first chance to take the ice with a close-to-normal Coliseum vibe.
"Finally, we see fans at the game," he said. "It’s very exciting, because we play for the fans and when you see and hear (the loudness), you feel energy . . . I just enjoy the game and enjoy the moment."
Just like Dan Feeney, Zach Wilson and their now-fellow Islanders fans everywhere.