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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It Happened at the Coliseum … on MARCH 18th

35 years ago tonight (1980) – One week following the big trade that brought Butch Goring to Long Island, the Isles were rolling, as they defeated the Atlanta Flames 6-3 in the final visit of the Southerners to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Isles jumped all over Atlanta early, and raced to a 4-0 lead before the game was even 11 minutes old.  Bob Murdoch took a penalty just 12 seconds into the game and if a beer company was sponsoring this blog, it would be known as the Turning Point of the Game.  Stefan Perrsson scored on the ensuing power play and before the period was out, Denis Potvin, Bob Bourne and Bryan Trottier had found the back of the Atlanta cage
The Flames managed only two shots on goal in the first period and when Duane Sutter scored 6:11 into the second period, the Isles had chased a Flames goaltender who had been unbeatable a month earlier: Olympic hero Jim Craig.

Anders Kallur (shorthanded) also scored in the second period as the Isles defeated their expansion cousins by the 6-3 count.

Craig, who left to a standing ovation in honor of his Lake Placid heroics, would make only one more appearance for the Flames, and later played for Boston and briefly for Minnesota.

Here's some video of Craig talking about his career.

The Flames would move to Atlanta the following season, giving an opportunity for the man who was in the visitors broadcast booth that evening to come to Long Island: Jiggs McDonald.

Also on this date: (1986) – Brent Sutter scored two first period goals as the Isles punished the Rangers 6-2 in the final meeting of the teams in Al Arbour’s first regime at Islander coach.  Arbour would retire at the end of the season, but would return in December, 1988.

The Coliseum was in the process of adding seats; the game was witnessed by 16,265 fans – the largest crowd in Coliseum history (and 95 people more than the official capacity today).

These are the only two home games that the Isles ever won on this date; they did not win a neutral site game in 1994 (tying Buffalo 2-2 in Minneapolis) when they were the nominal “home team” either.

Also on this date: (2008) Kyle Okposo made his NHL debut in a 4-1 loss to Toronto, despite this crazy goal by Rob Davison. Here's Joe Bowen and Greg Millen on the call. Holy Mackinaw!

Okposo would score his first NHL assist and then his first NHL goal (a game-winner) three nights later, against Marty Brodeur, in New Jersey.  Here's Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe.

All-time, the Isles have played eight March 18th games at the Coliseum and finish with a 2-3-3 record on this date at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale. 

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