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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Ryan Strome Injury Saga

As some of you may know, I am a college student in Albany studying journalism. On Friday night, January 31, I went to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders AHL affiliate) game in Albany against the Albany Devils. I had gone because it was a special discount for college students, like myself. I had purchased tickets right next to where the Sound Tigers would be entering the ice. Here is the view from my seats.

The game went pretty quickly. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. The Devils took an early lead in the first period, and the Sound Tigers were quick to answer.
My seats had a good view of the team coming on and off the ice, as you can see below.

Here's where the story gets interesting.
Late in the second period, prized prospect Ryan Strome came back to the bench from a shift and he was noticeably in pain. The team trainer looked at him, and Strome immediately left the bench to go to the locker room. Since I had a nice digital camera with me, I figured I'd take a picture of Strome in the tunnel to see how bad it was. After taking few pictures on my camera, I knew that this was a newsworthy event. I grabbed my iPhone from my pocket, and took a picture of the display on my camera and tweeted it out as fast as I could, as you can see below.
 Now, here is the picture on full display, it is the last one in a series of six photos I took of Strome going down the tunnel. He was right at the end of the tunnel, and I had to zoom in to get the shot. Strome is in obvious pain, and you can tell by looking at his facial expressions as he got his left hand looked at.
Here are two other picture from the set of six. Both were taken before I took the one above. Look at how Strome is crunched over in pain.

After tweeting the first picture, I texted a few of my friends to personally tell them the news. All of a sudden, my phone started vibrating constantly with emails from twitter. People were retweeting what I posted. Islanders beat writer for Newsday, Arthur Staple, retweeted my tweet to almost 14,000 followers while he was sitting in the Madison Square Garden press box. News all over twitter was that Ryan Strome was injured, and I was the one that broke the news. Normally, that would be a good enough story by itself, but the story gets better.

I sent out my tweet right before the second period ended, and during the second intermission is when the emails started coming in. While I was sitting in my seat checking the score of the Islanders game on my phone, Sound Tigers Head Coach Scott Pellerin emerged into the tunnel. He immediately started looking around, and when he made eye contact with me, his mood changed. He looked up at me and said, "Are you the one that sent the tweet?" After I said that I was, he lashed out. Here is what the dialogue consisted of. It might be slightly off, but this is what the conversation consisted of:
Pellerin: "What are you doing? Are you an Islanders fan?"
Me: "Yes"
Pellerin: "Well what are you doing? Why are you tweeting that?"
Me: "What?" (Loud music was playing in the background, and I couldn't hear him too well.)
Pellerin: "Now the other team knows what's happening."
Me: "They were going to find out eventually."
Pellerin: "Do you understand my point?"
Me: "Yes."
After I said that, Pellerin walked back down the tunnel. The whole conversation between Pellerin and myself didn't last more than 45 seconds.

At this point, all sorts of thoughts were racing through my head, but I'll get to those in a minute.
Once the third period started, a Times Union Center security guard/usher came over and started talking to me. After reinforcing what Pellerin had just told me, he told me that I had to stop taking pictures and put my phone away.
I fought back, complaining that I shouldn't have to put them away while others continued to use their phones and take pictures. The guard told me, "I'm just saying what the coach told you." While I was talking to him, he just walked away and didn't even bother to listen to what I was trying to say. I didn't want to create a scene by arguing about the First Amendment, so I just sat quietly. After a few more minutes, more ushers showed up in the tunnel. Not wanting to get kicked out, even though I did nothing wrong, I retreated to the concourse and stood in a different, far away section for the rest of the game.

By the way, the game was tied 1-1 going into the third period. And instead of trying to rally his team while knowing their best player would be out, Pellerin was busy talking to me. The Devils scored midway through the period to take a 2-1 lead, and that would be the final score.

After the game, I saw Ryan Strome outside the arena near the team bus while he was signing autographs for fans. He kept his left hand in his shirt pocket so nobody could see it. I asked Strome how his hand was feeling. "I'm not supposed to talk about it," Strome said.

My first thought is how would the head coach of the team know about a tweet made by a fan minutes earlier. My best guess at an answer is that someone who works for the Sound Tigers told one of the trainers about what happened, and the trainer told the coach. Secondly, why would he need to lecture me? What is the point of that? I can't answer those questions.

My last thought on the night is that security nearly threw me out for taking a picture and tweeting, something thousands of fans each night do at games. I can't comprehend how this whole thing happened, but it is amazing how this situation happened to begin with.

I think the Islanders or Sound Tigers will issue a statement in the next few days saying Strome has an "upper body injury" which will actually be a broken wrist and/or broken fingers.

That's all I have for right now. What are your thoughts on this situation? I'd love to hear them. Lets Go Islanders!

UPDATE: 2/1/14 10:30 a.m.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat writer Michael Fornabaio wrote a story about the game, and here is a screenshot from it. If you want to see his whole story, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Night on the Isle

When rooting for the New York Islanders, one might become bipolar with the sudden lows and highs fluctuating on pretty much a nightly basis. However, this team can be a teaching point for life in general, from loyalty to passion and never giving up. MSG's Alan Hahn sums it up after last night's game.
 The seating capacity at Nassau Coliseum is currently listed as 16,170. Last night's attendance of 11,111 was well below the average attendance of 13,461, but it is an all too common sight these days. The Islanders inevitably taking a lead before a not too packed house, only to painstakingly let them all down, and send the crowd home angry and empty handed.

However, last night was a fun exception. I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I bought tickets on a website for at least $90 below face value and they were great seats. Evgeni Nabokov got hurt in the first period, which usually is an ominous sign of things to come. After the first period, it felt like it was going to be another one of those nights where the Isles go through the motions in line for a loss, after which Jack Capuano will say the team's "battle level" wasn't there. Like we haven't heard that one before.

In the second period, that quickly changed. On the power play, the Isles got a break, and I got my camera out for what you see below.

Shortly after that, the die-hards in section 329 broke out into a 'Yes' chant that has to be seen live to believe and love.

For once, the Isles were the team getting the breaks, putting the puck in the net with regularity. The crowd at the Coliseum could sense it, as the Stars were held without a shot for almost 10 minutes in the second period. After John Tavares tied it off an amazing pass from Thomas Vanek. After that, Dallas called timeout to try and regain their composure. It didn't work.

If Peter Regin scores, Isles win. It's that simple. They won when he scored in the preseason, and now they have won both times he scored in the regular season. His tap in of a Josh Bailey pass gave the Islanders a lead.

Then Dallas tied it. At this point, I started thinking, "Here we go again." However, Brock Nelson singlehandedly brought the Isles the lead going into the second intermission.
In the third period, it was the John Tavares show. First, he set up Brian Strait during a 4 on 4 to make it 5-3. Then, he came out of the corner untouched and knocked the puck past Kari Lehtonen to make it 6-3. While all of this was going on, Kevin Poulin faced only 15 shots in relief of Evgeni Nabokov, stopping 13 of them en route to the win. With under 4 minutes left in the game, the Islanders had nearly two minutes of 5 on 3 time to try and set up the captain for his hat trick. Here's what happened.

Maybe this game was a distraction from the fact that this is not where the Islanders thought they would be at this point in the season. Maybe it will be a turning point for them to build on in hopes of making the playoffs. But for one night, all is well on Long Island.

All the loyal supporters will just have to keep watching and hoping that something will happen.

Thanks for reading! Lets Go Islanders!