Years of frustration -- for the Schultz brothers and for Smithtown West -- ended Tuesday night, a night when temperatures dipped into the 40s and fans wore winter jackets and huddled under blankets. But it was all about thrills not chills for the Bulls, who finally found a way to defeat perennial county and state champion West Islip.
George Schultz scored four goals and Patrick O'Brien contributed two goals and three assists as the host Bulls registered a 10-7 victory that was their first over the Lions since the Smithtown school district resplit into East and West high schools in the 2004-05 school year.
"It's a great feeling," said Schultz, who gave the Bulls (9-2 overall, 7-2 in Suffolk Division I) a 7-4 lead early in the third quarter. "This proved we can compete with the powerhouse teams."
After the game, Schultz a senior attack, phoned his brother, Matt, a freshman attack at Stony Brook University and former Smithtown West teammate, to share the good news. "He probably already knows," George Schultz said. "We've been through some tough games. Every year something happened."
The Schultz's endured three consecutive overtime losses to West Islip (7-3, 6-2), one in 2012 and two in 2011, including a heartbreaker in the county championship game. Smithtown West coach Bob Moltisanti had his personal losing streak against the Lions snapped. He was coach at Connetquot for three seasons (2009-11), losing to West Islip every time, including once in overtime, and took over at Smithtown West last year.
"It's all about the kids. I feel great for them because we needed this," Moltisanti said. "We turned the ball over too much in our two losses , but we were much more efficient on offense."
The Bulls' roster is chock-full of Division I prospects. Juniors Ryan Keenan (goal, assist, Penn State) and Christian Zawadzki (goal, Maryland) occupied the West Islip defense, freeing up O'Brien (Army) and Schultz, who will play for Division II New York Tech. Junior defensemen Logan Greco (Cornell), Kyle Mathie (North Carolina) and J.J. Foley (Lehigh) limited the Lions' shot opportunities. Junior goalie Matt Smidt (Ohio State), a first-year starter, had to make only five saves, but a couple came in key spots. Faceoff special Joe Varello (Navy) won only 10 of 20 faceoffs, but got the big ones that prevented West Islip from making a run.
Ryan Wieczorek (Penn State) led the Lions with three goals while Nick Aponte (Penn State) had two assists and Kevin Braddish (Washington & Lee), added two goals and an assist. "You always measure yourself against West Islip," Moltisanti said of the team that under coach Scott Craig has won the last nine county championships and five of the last seven state Class A titles. "We played great team defense and great team offense. George finished just like his brother used to."
Schultz scored two goals during a five-goal second quarter that helped the Bulls take a 6-4 halftime lead. After his third goal, off a nice feed from behind the cage by Keenan provided a three-goal lead, Braddish took a pass from Aponte in transition and beat Smidt to cut the deficit to 7-5.
In the past, that might have triggered a scoring run by the Lions, but not this time. Gruder and Sean Adler answered with goals less than a minute apart late in the third quarter for a four-goal deficit. "Every time they got close, we were able to score," Schultz said. "We were looking for each other and making the extra pass."
And making a little school history, too.