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Bulldogs' hockey going at teams in 'Waves of Four'

Brenden Lloyd isn't just a one-man show for the Bellmore-Merrick boys’ ice hockey team.

What makes the Bulldogs a juggernaut this season is that they come at you in "Waves of Four", Lloyd said.

Meaning Bellmore-Merrick is four lines deep in its attack. There's nothing better than that from Bulldogs coach Chris Patten's perspective.

"We don't rely on just one guy," Patten said. "Brenden centers our top line and he does a great job, but it's not just about one single player. It's about all of us."

Lloyd agreed. "We know what we're asked of and what we have to do for every game and every practice," said Lloyd, who leads the Bulldogs in points (24) with 15 goals and nine assists. "We're a tight-knit family that finds a way to get the job done. Team chemistry is at its finest here."

Goal No. 1 is to make it to the county final. Goal No. 2 is to make it to the "whole tournament," as Patten called the large school state tournament, which takes place Feb. 28 and March 1-2 at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.

"We're not interested in individual accolades," Patten said. "We only care about the team accomplishments. We align our goals right from the get-go and strive for excellence."

In order to get to the top, Bellmore-Merrick (12-1-1), which sits atop the High School Hockey League of Nassau County's Large School Michelino Standings, will likely have to get past Massapequa (9-3-3) and Syosset (10-7), two potential playoff foes.

Bellmore-Merrick put together an 8-4 win against Massapequa on Jan. 6 and then tied the Chiefs, 2-2, on Jan. 15.

The Bulldogs defeated Syosset in all three of their meetings by a combined 15-4 margin that included a 2-1 win on Dec. 9, a 5-2 win on Jan. 13 and an 8-1 win on Jan. 27.

"Those are two powerhouses in our division that we really respect," Patten said. "Long Beach is another powerhouse that is really strong year after year. For us to get where we want to get we are going to have to get past those kinds of teams."

And an integral piece in getting there will depend on the play of Matthew Waldman in net. The Bulldogs goalie is 5-0 with a 1.31 Goals-Against Average.

The key to Waldman's success? It's nothing special.

"I make sure to take care of the normal goalie stuff, like communicating in the back to let everyone know that they need to close out the lanes, get up at the point and block a shot," Waldman said. "Another thing is to let others do the talking for you. When you play well, you don't need to talk about it. Other people can do that. Coach Patten talks about that all the time."

Talk is cheap and the Bulldogs are letting their play do the talking. Their final three regular season games are against Port Washington (8:15 p.m. on Feb. 1) and Cold Spring Harbor (9 a.m. on Feb. 2) in Long Beach and Massapequa (9:10 p.m. on Feb. 3) at Newbridge Arena in Bethpage.