Long Beach eyes third straight state title

Long Beach teammates mob together in celebration after Long Beach teammates mob together in celebration after their championship-clinching 10-1 win over Syosset in Game 2 of the Michelino Finals, a Nassau County varsity ice hockey best-of-three playoffs at Bethpage Arena. (Feb. 15, 2012) Photo Credit: James Escher

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It will be a long time before the Long Beach hockey team forgets superstorm Sandy. Every home game is a constant reminder.

The storm damaged the Long Beach Ice Arena to the point that it is not operational, forcing the Marines to practice and play games on the six other Long Island rinks used by the league.? The league schedule also was cut from 21 to 15 games.

But that's not stopping Long Beach from continuing its quest for a third consecutive state championship.

"Our home ice advantage was big for us," said Long Beach coach Joe Brand. "We get a big crowd and our kids brought their game to another level at home, but this year we're rallying around the idea that we'll have to win it all on the road."

Long Beach can very well do that and repeat as Michelino Division champions. The team is off to a 4-0 start and returned forwards JT Forkin and Rob Delury, while adding Kieran Hurley, a transfer from Oceanside, to strengthen its attack.

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Massapequa won its first Large School state title last season after finishing third in Michelino, and should be a top team again with forwards Nick Mangone and Bobby Oldmixon. Team captain Brett Anseacher is the Chiefs' top defenseman and Dana DeMartino returns for her senior season in net. East Williston-Jericho is a newly combined squad that is also a favorite in Michelino with goaltender Graham Turk, who went 9-1-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average last season. The Wildhawks are 8-0, led by forwards Matthew Bernot and Anthony Modica, and the Fox brothers -- Andrew, a senior, and Adam, a freshman -- on defense.

Liberty Division

Oceanside returns goaltender Dominick Lamano and will try to defend its Liberty Division title but is off to a slow start at 2-4. Lynbrook-East Rockaway is an improved team with 12 seniors and is a favorite for the league championship with forwards Jonathan Kaszuba and Gerard Clayton. Levittown-Island Trees is already 9-3, led by Joe Quinn's 27 goals and four hat tricks.

CHSHLSt. Anthony's returns eight players from its undefeated state-championship team, including defensemen Chris Calandra and Brent D'Iorio and goaltender Daniel Peterson. The Friars are off to a 5-1 start behind Joey Slevin's offense, and should compete for another league title with Iona Prep, Fordham Prep and Monsignor Farrell all contending. Chaminade, led by Andrew Verlucci, will try to stay in the mix. St. Mary's will look to improve but is still a young team.

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