Hockey Team Wins State Title

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manhassetstatechampsThe Manhasset Varsity hockey team won the New York State Championship with a hard fought 6-3 win over the favored Lynbrook Owls.

Lynbrook had just won the Nassau County Championship and was primed to take the State title, but Manhasset caught some momentum and became the “team of destiny” in a drama filled weekend that climaxed with the big win. Several milestones were reached for the program that competed in the Open division of the New York State Club hockey league.

Manhasset qualified for States for the first time in the history of the team and gained their first win on Friday, Feb. 28 with 5-2 victory over City Honors High School from outside Buffalo. Manhasset’s goalie, Lance Tennenbaum, made several sensational saves that prevented City Honors from scoring. Michael Brzozowski and Matt Cecchini led the scoring attack and solid defense by Nolan Behringer kept the City Honors at bay as they tried to mount a comeback.

Saturday brought on two games both against upstate New York teams, Olean and Jamestown. Solid goaltending and a key goal by Mario DeBueriis enabled Manhasset to garner a 6-4 victory over the Olean team.

The second game of the day also brought a dilemma for the team’s 11th grade players with Junior Prom that night conflicting with the game. Though the team was shorthanded seven players, they played well and Matt Pullano made some key saves but the Indians couldn’t keep up with bigger Jamestown team and lost 7-3. Even with the loss, Manhasset qualified for the semi-finals on Sunday.

With a full squad and needing two victories for a State title, the Indians were matched once again against Jamestown. Jamestown jumped out for 2-0 lead but goal by Michael Brzozowski cut the lead to 2-1 after the first period.

Jamestown was controlling the play and continued to pressure the goal and scored three more unanswered goals and led 5-2 after two periods. The third period began the same way and with 12:38 remaining in the game it was 6-2.Manhasset scored two goals and cut the lead to 6-4 with 5 minutes remaining. Manhasset had life and the top line of Brzozowski, Cecchini and DeBueriis were flying and all scored in the game. Manhasset was in control and tied it with 1:23 left at 6-6. The game went to overtime and it took only 23 seconds for Cecchini to score the winning goal and the improbable comeback was complete.

All spectators on both sides were “stunned” by what just took place and indeed it must have been the “longest” seven hour ride back to Jamestown… Comebacks likes this are rare and are either thrilling or painful to watch and proves to everyone who participates in sports “you never give up.”

Nassau County Champs Lynbrook was next and there were clearly several challenges. Lynbrook had a very talented team that defeated Manhasset handily twice during the regular season. The game plan was to “jump’ on” the seemingly overconfident Owls squad. A very pumped up Manhasset team came out flying from the opening faceoff and scored two quick goals in the first 1:30 led by John Paul Young and Cecchini. Goals by Brzozowski and Peter Schlesier increased the lead to 4-0, and again there were some “stunned” spectators in the crowed.

Lance Tennenbaum was on his A game and continued to quell the snipers from Lynbrook. Austin Plansker was exceptional at defense and continually frustrated their top scorers. Jack Becker and Ryan Kiess also played solid D and had the high scoring Owls scoreless until Lynbrook’s late goal made it 4-1 after two periods.

Though Lynbrook controlled the play in the 3rd period, great fore checking by Avery Chu, Spencer Tennenbaum, Brett Tennenbaum, Caliendo Gillen, Yanni Ziozis and solid defense by Paul Majewski, Corey McCluskey and Nick Cutrone kept Lynbrook from mounting a comeback. Goals by Schlesier and Cechhini closed out the scoring for a electrifying 6-3 victory.

Coaches Kevin Smith and Mike O’Gara were instrumental in keeping the team positive and energized for this stellar accomplishment. It was a nice ending for seniors Ryan Kiess and John Paul Young and much to look forward to next year for the Manhasset Varsity High School Hockey team.

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