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Nassau-Suffolk hockey championship scheduled

Connetquot/Sayville's Joseph Bizzaro, center, and Smithtown's Jonathan Gianchetta,

Connetquot/Sayville's Joseph Bizzaro, center, and Smithtown's Jonathan Gianchetta, right, faceoff in the Suffolk hockey game. (Jan. 9, 2012) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

High school hockey fans, the rumors are true.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Long Island public high school hockey will have a true No. 1 team.

On March 23, the recently crowned Suffolk champs Connetquot-Sayville will cross the county boarder westward to take on Nassau’s Michelino champs East Williston-Jericho for a Long Island championship game hosted by the Town of Oyster Bay at the Skating Center in Bethpage.

The game will be at 7 p.m. and stream live on msgvarsity.com., and re-air on MSG Varsity TV, March 27 at 7p.m.

“They’re a talented team and I’m looking forward to it,” Connetquot-Sayville coach Bruce Kollmar said. “It’s the kind of thing that should happen. They do it in football and other sports, and it’s great to have it in hockey.”

Andy Rothstein, the Director of Operations for the Town of Oyster Bay, and Buzz DesChamps, a long time presence in youth hockey on Long Island who currently works for Stony Brook University’s hockey program, reached out to both the Nassau and Suffolk leagues to organize the championship game.

Rothstein said the Town of Oyster Bay would sponsor the game, a championship trophy and MVP awards for players from both teams.

“It came through the Town with a lot of conversations with both leagues,” Rothstein said. “I played hockey my whole life and thought, ‘why can’t we just get this done? How great would it be for the kids to get a Long Island championship?’ It was a collaborate effort.”

Both Nassau league president Steve Rupp and Suffolk league president Charlie Venticinque were not directly involved in the planning, and learned that the game was finalized just a few weeks ago, but said they’re excited and expect it to be an annual event alternating host sites between Nassau and Suffolk.

As for the game itself, Connetquot-Sayville and EWJ are two powerful teams.

Both swept their county championship series, as EWJ finished a perfect 18-0 while Connetquot-Sayville was first in its league and won all four of its postseason games.

The two squads also feature top notch goaltenders in the T-Birds’ Christian Hamlett and EWJ’s Graham Turk, and have excellent scorers with PJ Dimartino and Gino Leocadi for Connetquot-Sayville and Matthew Bernot and Anthony Modica for EWJ.

The one concern? The game is scheduled for the first day of Spring recess—just a day before Palm Sunday and two days before the first night of Passover—and EWJ coach Jon Turk said he might have trouble putting his full roster on the ice.

“It’s last minute but if we can pull it off it’d be great,” Turk said. “We’ve been wanting to reach out and do an exhibition game with a Suffolk team so if we can get everyone there it’ll be fun.”