75° Good Afternoon
75° Good Afternoon

For Islanders fans, a bittersweet victory

New York Islanders fans celebrate after a third-period

New York Islanders fans celebrate after a third-period goal against the Washington Capitals during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When Cal Clutterbuck's shot hit the back of the empty Washington Capitals net, the fans in Section 206 of Nassau Coliseum exploded in noisy celebration, high-fiving everyone, lifelong friends and total strangers alike.

Forty-year-old Adam Vogel of Manhattan shouted, "One more day!"

The Islanders' 3-1 victory kept the team alive for at least one more game, Game 7 on Monday night in Washington. For the Coliseum to stay alive, to host any more hockey games before the Islanders move to Barclays Center next season, the Isles will have to win this next game. If they do, the hated Rangers will be their next opponent. Vogel -- and everyone else in the building Saturday -- was well aware of that.

"There's no guarantee Monday night that the Islanders are going to win," he said. "So when I say, 'one more day,' I mean one more day for the Islanders. And my hope is at least one more day for the series against the Rangers."

Vogel, who grew up in Oceanside, said he was at Shea Stadium for the final Mets game there in 2008, and the feeling then was completely different from Saturday.

"I walked out of that stadium feeling like somebody close to me had died," he said. "So at least I don't get to feel that way today."

Knowing the Islanders faced elimination -- and aren't coming back once they are eliminated -- Melissa Contino called Saturday's game "nerve-wracking."

"You grow up with hockey around the corner from you; it's the last season here, and now they're pushing for a Game 7," the 19-year-old from East Meadow said. "It's unbelievable. I mean, you could hear it. Today, the Coliseum rocked. Amazing. I love it."

Evelyn Hamilton, 74, loved it, too. The Garden City resident has had season tickets since the mid-1980s, right after the Stanley Cup run ended. Confined to a wheelchair, she doesn't see how she'll be able to get to Brooklyn to see the team next season.

"It's kind of bittersweet," she said. "We were waiting for the Cup to come back. It may not happen this year, but maybe next year. And who knows if I'll be there to see it."

Dominick Moreo, 75, has worked as a parking lot attendant at the Coliseum since 1979. Stationed at the entrance to the VIP and media lot before games, Moreo greeted a regular on the way into the game, and the man handed him a cup of coffee.

"If I don't see you again," the man explained as he reached out of the window to shake Moreo's hand. "I hope I do, but if I don't, have a good one, OK?"

After the game, fans left still not knowing whether they'll see one another, or their team, again in the 43-year-old building.

Vogel, who said he might go to a couple of games next season in Brooklyn, said the team leaving Long Island "feels like the end of my childhood."

But the win, at least, made it OK for fans to not have to think about next season just yet.

"If heaven forbid we don't make it,'' Vogel said, "at least I got to see this team win on the last day."

Out in the halls of the emptying building, a security guard in a yellow windbreaker was ushering the happy crowd out into the sun-splashed parking lot.

"Exit to the right,'' he said. "See you next week.''

New York Sports