During the coronavirus pandemic, Peter Schwartz has been going through his collection of ticket stubs from games and other events. This is one in a series about some of the games and events that have an interesting story.
That was the only clue I had as I tried to figure out what game a ticket stub that I came across was from. It was an old TICKETRON (before there was Ticketmaster) stub that was in bad shape. I knew it was from the late 70’s and it was from an Islanders game because it was in a book of ticket stubs that was solely dedicated to Islanders hockey at Nassau Coliseum. I also saw that the ticket was for section 307 row P seat 15.
It was an Islanders ticket stub but I couldn’t tell what game it was from. When the ticket taker ripped the ticket (yes, I’m dating myself because back in the day that’s what happened before scanning tickets and mobile images), there was nothing left on the piece given back to me indicating what game it was, other than H29, the code used by the ticketing system to indicate what Islanders regular season home game it was for that season.
The first ticket stub in my book that had the date and game on it was from the 1980-81 season, so I began to think that this stub was from the 1979-80 season. So, I pulled up the 1979-80 Islanders season on www.hockey-reference.com (a great resource for the avid hockey fan), and proceeded to go to the end of the season and worked my way back.
And then I got to H29 and it was the Islanders versus the Winnipeg Jets on February 12th, 1980. And when I saw the score of the game, it all game back to me…the whole night! It was a 0-0 tie, and yes I’m dating myself again because I’m old enough to remember and appreciate when NHL games ended in a tie, but there were a few other things about that night that came back to me as soon as I figured out what game the ticket stub was from.
Now one may think that when they see that a game ended in a 0-0 tie, the first thought that comes to mind is that the game was boring. I can understand someone feeling that way but let me tell you that hockey games that ended in 0-0 ties were not like a lot of soccer matches that end in 0-0 draws. Sometimes, the goalies of both teams just have a good night and sometimes luck is just not on your side.
That was the case that night.
Islanders goalie Glenn “Chico” Resch made 27 saves and Jets netminder Markus Mattesson matched Chico’s shutout stopping all 20 Isles shots. Although, there was one Islanders shot that got past Mattesson but it didn’t count. I seem to remember that Bryan Trottier had scored a goal, I think it was in the second period, but the goal was waved off because of icing.
And that was it. There was no overtime back then so after sixty minutes of play, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. But aside from the game, there were a couple of other things that happened that made that night memorable.
Back then, the Islanders sold game programs at the Coliseum and on the last page there was a Chevrolet ad. At the bottom of the page, there was a box and if you had an autograph from an Islanders player in the box, you were that night’s contestant for Score-O. After the second period, the goal on one end of the rink was covered with a board leaving just little tiny opening. The contestant would stand on the red line and shot the puck towards the net and if the puck went through the tiny hole, that person won a car.
And that night, the contestant fired the puck right through the hole and won the car! It was the only goal of the night that counted!
The other memorable moment that occurred that night had absolutely nothing to do with the Islanders game although the Isles did have a special patch on their jerseys that season. That was because the Winter Olympics were taking place in Lake Placid, New York so the three New York State NHL, the Islanders, Rangers, and Sabres wore an Olympics patch on the shoulder of the jersey. On the same night as the Islanders 0-0 tie with Winnipeg, the United States hockey team played their first game of the Olympics against Sweden and the Coliseum scoreboard was providing updates.
The United States was trailing 2-1 late in the third period but Bill Baker scored with 27 seconds left and the USA began their road to the “Miracle on Ice” playing Sweden to a 2-2 tie. When the final score was shown on the Coliseum scoreboard, the crowd erupted with chants of USA USA USA. After all, there weren’t high expectations for the United States team, but well…you know what happened!
Anyway, the night of February 12th, 1980 turned out to be pretty memorable for me. As a kid, I was in one of my happy places and that was being at an Islanders game. Sure, it was a 0-0 tie but there was a little bit of drama and I always have fun at a hockey game win, lose or back then tie. Also, a lucky fan won a car that night and a miracle was beginning.
And now that I know what that ticket stub was from, those memories will always be there when I look at it.