Seventeen months after opening its doors for the very first time, UBS Arena will get its first Stanley Cup Playoffs experience when the Islanders host the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of their first-round series on Friday night.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “We know our fans, we know how they are in the playoffs, so we’re excited to get it going.”
The 17,000-plus-seat, $1 billion arena is expected to enhance the Islanders’ home-ice advantage, just as the organization’s previous home at the Nassau Coliseum did thanks to its intimate confines and low ceiling.
While UBS Arena is far more spacious than the Coliseum and has all the modern amenities the “Old Barn” lacked, fragments of the former home’s soul made their way seven miles down Hempstead Turnpike to Belmont Park.
The highest point of the ceiling at UBS Arena is 93 feet from ice level — just seven feet taller than the Coliseum’s roof. It will help amplify what will already be a deafening, desperate Islanders crowd on Friday night.
“I expect it to be loud,” defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “The Coli was loud. I don’t know if they can get it to the same level but that’d be nice. It was a fun place to play. We’ll see what it’s like [Friday] night.”
To put it in perspective, UBS Arena’s ceiling is roughly 30 feet shorter than the one at Barclays Center, where the Islanders played from 2015-2020.
“Barclays wasn’t our favorite rink,” Mayfield added with a smirk. “I think that’s safe to say.”
Being a part of the team to partake in a historic event from the building is not a role that’s being lost on the Islanders — even if they enter Game 3 down 0-2 in the series.
“I think it means a lot. It’s a pretty cool thing that’s gonna happen,” Lambert said. ‘There have been some amazing playoff games in the other building and this is the first of many.”
Only time will help build the mystique of UBS Arena, as a dynastic run from 1980-1983 helped do for the Coliseum. Plenty of the 2022-23 Islanders helped build on that in the old building’s final season when they made a run to a second consecutive Stanley Cup semifinal. But forward Kyle Palmieri looks at Friday night as an important opportunity to start laying the foundation for their current home.
“It’ll be different,” he said. “You look back and remember some of those games and those moments from the run I was a part of… A lot of good memories at the Coliseum, but it’s time to start some new ones at UBS.
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