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East Williston-Jericho wins Long Island ice hockey title

East Williston-Jericho #7 Colin Kennedy, left and teammates

East Williston-Jericho #7 Colin Kennedy, left and teammates celebrate after their 5-3 win over Connetquot-Sayville in the Long Island varsity ice hockey championship. (March 23, 2013) Credit: James Escher

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."

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