The Skudder family was perched under its tent in the lot outside Nassau Coliseum on Sunday morning. Dad Rob took out the grill. Mom Phyllis took a seat. And the adult kids, Justin and Brittany, stood there wearing happy looks and their blue No. 91 John Tavares jerseys.
They came from Plainview, but it felt like home. They were back at the Coliseum — now renovated and branded NYCB Live — to tailgate and cheer on the Islanders.
“We’ve been season-ticket holders my whole life, been coming here since I sat on my dad’s lap,” said Brittany, now a 27-year-old teacher. “It’s just so exciting to be back at the Nassau Coliseum where I grew up.”
“Hopefully,” Justin said, “it will make an impact on bringing them back here.”
The sellout crowd of 13,917 filled the Old/New Barn with joyous noise even though this was only the preseason opener against Philadelphia and the Isles’ return was only for one afternoon.
“We’re happy we’re back,” West Babylon’s Jerry Carollo said. “This is a great day. It’s like a playoff game.”
The Islanders won in overtime, 3-2, in their first game here since a playoff game April 25, 2015. Since then, it hasn’t been the happiest marriage at Barclays Center.
“It’s definitely not the same,” Lindenhurst’s George Tsistinas said.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has said moving back isn’t a viable option. The Islanders are interested in constructing a new arena at Belmont Park.
“You’ve got a ton of friends that you don’t get to sit at the games with,” Deer Park’s Mike Hodgkiss said. “But . . . you could hang out with them at the parking lot.”
“You miss the tailgate,” said Hodgkiss’ brother, Dan, a Copiague resident. “You miss the easy travel. You miss getting home before 10:30.”
The crowd got loud when the Isles emerged for the start.
“It was nice to see the reaction when they came out,” said Merrick’s Katie Zaikowski, standing on a concourse after the second period with her husband, Joe, who was holding their daughter, Isabella. “It felt like they were back on the Island where they belong.”
When Tavares scored the winner, the fans erupted. “Bring them back!” they chanted. Well, not all of them.
“Good views, good atmosphere,” Joe Zaikowski said. “It’s nice to see them back on Long Island. Do I think they should come back? No. They need a new building . . . Belmont. It’s a happy medium.”