Eric Tartarian leads Half Hollow Hills ice hockey

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With the state of the NHL season still up in the air, Long Islanders can turn to the high school ranks in Suffolk for some intense on-ice action that's sure to quell their itch for hockey.

As for teams to watch, look out for Half Hollow Hills, which brings back much of the core from last season's playoff team. Hills returns one of Suffolk's most talented goaltenders, Eric Tartarian, as well as forwards Ben Sorkin and Eric Steinberg, who were the team scoring leaders last season. Assists leader Bryce Dailey also returns, so expect Half Hollow Hills to rise quickly to the top of the Suffolk standings.

Smithtown-Hauppauge is the defending county champion after going 19-1 and sweeping through the playoffs. The Bulls return their top scoring line of Michael Goia, Danny Nelson and Nick Lupo but will have to find a way to replace Newsday second-team All-Long Island goaltender Thomas Drapala in order to have the same success. Robert Mellone, Stephen Mundinger and Thomas DeRosa are competing to start in net.

"I expect that the players we have returning should be among the top of the league and we'll ride on their backs," Bulls coach Vincent Granice said. "All three of our goalies are new, so it's a question of who's going to take the reins and go with it."

Connetquot-Sayville tied Smithtown-Hauppauge for the league's best record last season but lost to the Bulls in the county championship series. The T-Birds should be a top team again because they return PJ Dimartino and Brian Arroyo, who totaled 62 points last season, and defenseman Gino Leocadi, their captain. Sachem, led by forward Alex Poscillo, should make the playoffs again. Poscillo will play on a line with new varsity teammates Matt Battelli and Jimmy Hoffman, who are expected to have big seasons.

East Islip returns Suffolk's second-leading scorer, Jake Guadagno, and also should be in the mix for a middle playoff seed. Kings Park-Commack graduated its three leading scorers but is deeper than it was last season. Promising additions include defenseman Jake Napoli and forwards Sean Tinschert and Anthony Dicostanzo, all of whom enter their first varsity season after leading the Kings Park-Commack junior varsity to a 26-1 record and a county title. St. John the Baptist is also on the rise and could be a surprise.

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