East Williston-Jericho wins Long Island ice hockey title
History was made Saturday night at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center, and Adam Fox made sure he and his East Williston-Jericho teammates were on the right side of it.
In the first Nassau-Suffolk high school hockey championship game in over 30 years, Fox made plays all over the ice and assisted on East Williston-Jericho's first four goals, Anthony Modica had a hat trick and Matthew Bernot sealed it with a penalty shot in the third period, as the Wildcats beat Connetquot-Sayville, 5-3, to win the first Long Island crown.
"My teammates make the opportunities count and I'm excited we won this game," said Fox, a defenseman. "It was an unbelievable season."
With his team leading by only a goal in the third period, Bernot was awarded a penalty shot after he was taken down from behind on a breakaway after taking a pass from Fox with 8:08 left.
Bernot came in slowly, faked a shot then deked to his forehand and slid the puck past a sprawling Christian Hamlett to make it 5-3. "I was going to go the backhand but I faked it and went to the forehand and put it in as I got tripped and went into the boards," Bernot said. "That was big, it gave us a two-goal cushion and I knew we were going to win after that."
The excitement was palpable before the puck was dropped. A standing-room only crowd, end-to-end MSG Varsity television crews and the Connetquot High School marching band created a college-like atmosphere.
Connetquot-Sayville (20-3-1) struck early. Brian Arroyo took a pass from PJ DiMartino and powered up the left side, where he backhanded the puck in between East Williston-Jericho netminder Graham Turk and the post, to make it 1-0 T-Birds just 35 seconds into the game.
Hamlett made a series of spectacular saves but couldn't hold the Wildcats offense for long. East Williston-Jericho (22-1-1) was shorthanded when Fox intercepted a pass and streaked up the ice. He backhanded a saucer pass through the middle of the zone to Anthony Modica, who deked a defender and then Hamlett for the goal to tie it at 1 with 2:17 left in the period.
Less than a minute later, Fox circled behind the net and set up Matthew Bernot in front to give EWJ a 2-1 lead. Then with 21.8 seconds left in the first period, Modica scored on a rebound to make it 3-1 EWJ after one.
Connetquot-Sayville cut the EWJ lead to one heading into the third. After controlling possession for the majority of the period, DiMartino notched a power-play goal off a scramble in front of the EWJ net to cut his team's deficit to 3-2 with 4:42 left.
Modica answered for EWJ, however, just 23 seconds later for his third goal to push the lead to 4-2. But with 2:37 left in the second Arroyo fired a wrist shot to the top right corner of the net after receiving a pass from DiMartino behind the net, making it 4-3 after two periods.
Said Bernot: "To go out as a senior with this game, the Nassau regular-season title, the Nassau championships and this. I can't ask for anything more than that and we're the No. 1 team now on Long Island."