Massapequa's Phil Armato, Justin Von Wieding and Dom DiGiovanna carry...

Massapequa's Phil Armato, Justin Von Wieding and Dom DiGiovanna carry the championship trophy after defeating Bellmore-Merrick in the Nassau championship game, 5-3. Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

It was a constant game of catch-up, and ultimately one team had to be left behind.

First Massapequa took the lead, and Bellmore-Merrick tied it. Then the Bulldogs went ahead and the Chiefs answered back.

The two top teams in Nassau took a tie game into the early minutes of the third period, but Anthony Mangone scored 1:42 in and Phil Armato added what would be the winner just over two minutes later, as Massapequa defeated Bellmore-Merrick, 5-3, in Game 2 to take the best-of-three Nassau Michelino Division ice hockey final at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center last night. Massapequa won Game 1, 7-2.

"We just wanted to go hard, get the puck deep, get the puck in the net," Mangone said. "We felt like they were going to come out hard, and we wanted to go out hard, too."

And what more could you expect from the top teams in the Michelino division? They finished the regular season with identical records, beating each other once, were the top teams in goals scored and goals against and breezed through the opening round of the playoffs.

Then Massapequa (21-2) took Game 1 Tuesday night. One team finally had an edge, though Bellmore-Merrick (19-4) spent the majority of the first two periods trying to erase any illusions the Chiefs might have of a cakewalk clincher.

Massapequa's Joey Bochichio scored with 3:06 remaining in the first period, but James Bobb answered back for the Bulldogs with 48 seconds to go. Bobb scored again just 1:23 into the second period before Mike Tardino tied the score 2-2 for the Chiefs.

"We went through a little slide in the first period, we weren't looking great and then we stepped it up after that goal," Tardino said.

But neither team was able to muster a score for the rest of the second period as each team's goalie stood his ground.

"I was just trying to stay focused, bear down and try to make every save I can to help out my team," Massapequa keeper Mike Mottola said. "It was going to come down to whoever executed the best, and we just got it done."

Finally, Justin Von Weiding sent a pass to Mangone that gave the Chiefs the lead for good, and Armato's goal followed. Bobb scored again for the hat-trick with 2:54 to go, but Tardino pocketed an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to seal it.

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