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Nassau’s four best boys ice hockey teams prepping for postseason push
There’s nothing better than this time of the year for Syosset coach Jason DePierro.
“As we get toward the end of the season, you’re working extra hard in practice to compete for a county championship,” DePierro said. “This is what you play for.”
The Long Beach, Bellmore-Merrick and Massapequa boys’ ice hockey teams can preach those same words as DePierro and the Braves. One of those four clubs will likely be crowned this year’s champs, after East Williston-Jericho won it last year.
“Each game kind of takes on a life of its own,” said DePierro, who is in his first season at the helm. “Everyone has their own style of play and that changes from game-to-game. Now, you’re going to see tremendous physicality and intensity.”
Syosset (10-4) saw plenty of that in its showdown with Massapequa on Dec. 8 at the Long Beach Municipal Ice Arena. With the score tied at three, Braves left wing Jordan Siff found a loose puck in front, before sending in the game-winner with 3:12 remaining to win it for Syosset.
It was at that point in the season when DePierro sensed his team was starting to get what he wanted to get done.
“I think there's a focus here with us on defense. We are a defensive first team,” DePierro said. “We try to move the puck out of our end as quickly as possible, so that we can look to headman the puck, get out in transition and create offense off the rush.”
Whereas the Braves look to get it out of their own end and go, the Chiefs (6-3-3) and coach Tony DeMayo look to centers Bobby Oldmixon and Phil Jewell and wing Luc Corso to keep the tempo upbeat.
“It’s just to never stop skating. We want to dump the puck in and work the corners,” DeMayo said. “If we let up for a minute, like we did for a couple of minutes in the Bellmore-Merrick game, that’s when we start to play sluggish.”
DeMayo is referring to the 2-2 tie against Bellmore-Merrick on Jan. 15. at Cantiague Park Ice Arena in Hicksville. After Bellmore-Merrick tied it at two on a power play goal, DeMayo called on Oldmixon to help the Chiefs snap out of it.
“He’s just a hard-nosed guy that’s not afraid of anybody,” DeMayo said of Oldmixon, who is one of the Chiefs’ go-to players when it comes to dumping and chasing. “We were a little sluggish and he’s the type that never stops skating. I had the guys quick come to the bench and it helped.”
In the overall standings, Long Beach (10-1-1) is in first place among the small schools, while Syosset is on top of the large school standings, in front of Bellmore-Merrick (9-1-1) and Massapequa.
All four are expected to make the postseason, which begins on Feb. 9.
“We’ve exceeded expectations,” DeMayo said. “They see that they have the potential to move on and do good things.”