A group of opposing fans who visited the Nassau Coliseum to see the Islanders face off in a playoff game against their Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon said they were the targets of harassment, vandalism and homophobic and racist taunts.
In a blog post published after the Capitals' 2-1 win in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series, Brooklyn photographer Nate Igor Smith said he and about a dozen fellow Washington fans from New York City were the victims of relentless taunting and harassment that went beyond the normal visiting team heckling.
"We had incident after incident today in a way that I have never seen," Smith wrote Sunday. "The combination of racism, sexism, homophobia, vandalism and violence was something almost impressive to behold."
Smith said that the heckling began as gentle ribbing before the game but it quickly took a turn as the visiting fans found their seats in the arena. He said several Islanders fans sitting around them hurled homophobic taunts their way and targeted a black fan in Smith's group with racist slurs.
When the Islanders scored their first goal, Smith said, a fan dumped beer on him.
During one intermission, Smith said his group almost got involved in a fight with a group of Islanders fans in an outside smoking area. He said several fans blew smoke in the faces of women with him and one fan grabbed a small towel that featured a team slogan.
Smith said several fans closed in when he tried to get the towel back, and he was accused of trying to instigate a fight by a security guard who separated the two groups of fans. Smith said someone threw a bottle at his group during the altercation.
After the game, Smith said his group was again accosted by Islanders fans who scratched one of the Capitals' fans cars with keys and stole that vehicle's license plates. Another Islanders fan allegedly urinated by the car's door.
The team said Monday that it didn't condone the treatment Smith described in his blog and said they expect Islanders fans to be "the loudest and most respectful" in the NHL.
"We are disappointed by the reported actions of a select group of fans that attended Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. The alleged racist or homophobic remarks directed at several Washington Capitals fans are by no means associated with or supported by the New York Islanders organization," the team said.