Eric Tartarian should lead Half Hollow Hills ice hockey

With the state of the NHL season still up in the air, Long Islanders can now 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, as it brings back a chunk of their core from last season's playoff team. Hills returns one of Suffolk's most talented goaltenders in Eric Tartarian, and forwards Ben Sorkin and Eric Steinberg, who led the team in scoring last season. Bryce Dailey also returns having led the team in assists, so expect Hills to quickly rise to the top of the Suffolk standings.

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

"I expect that the players we have returning should be among 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 reigns 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, returning PJ Dimartino and Brian Arroyo, who combined for 62 points last season, and team captain defenseman Gino Leocadi. Sachem is led by forward Alex Poscillo, and should make the playoffs again this season. Poscillo will play on a line with two new varsity teammates in Matt Battelli and Jimmy Hoffman, who are both expected to have big seasons. East Islip returns Suffolk's second-leading scorer in Jake Guadagno and should also be in the mix for a middle playoff seed. Kings Park-Commack graduated its three leading scorers, but is deeper than last season, led by defenseman Jake Napoli and forwards Sean Tinschert and Anthony Dicostanzo, who each enter their first varsity season after leading the KPC junior varsity team to a 26-1 record and a county title. St. John the Baptist is also a team on the rise, and could be a surprise.

Players to Watch

Alex Poscillo, F, Sachem, Sr.

Ben Sorkin, F, Half Hollow Hills, Sr.

PJ Dimartino, F, Connetquot-Sayville, Sr.

Jake Guadagno, F, East Islip, Sr.

Michael Goia, F, Smithtown, Sr.

Eric Tartarian, G, Half Hollow Hills, Sr.

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