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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: NYSAHA - Midget - Long Island 3, Southtowns 2

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

NYSAHA - Midget - Long Island 3, Southtowns 2

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a fitting finale for the second day of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association Tier II U16 Midget State Championship Tournament’s pool play, two squads vying for the last open berth in the semifinals. No tie-breakers, no point differentials, just the head-to-head outcome in a winner take all in the 51 minute preliminary round finale.

When the snow from the Olympic sheet at the Weibel Avenue Rink in Saratoga Springs settled, the Long Island Rebels stood tall, saluting their parents in the stands after holding off Western New York’s Southtowns Stars, 3-2, to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinal against New Hartford.

With the game tied at two goals apiece and a chance to play for another day hanging in the balance, Rebel forward John Rossi came up with his biggest goal of the year with 7:26 left in regulation.

“I kept going down (to the net) and Todd Greene threw it at the net,” Rossi said. “I backhanded it and it went off the goalie’s blocker. I hit it with my stick and knocked it in, what a great feeling.”

While the contest was a constant thrill for the Long Island champions and their contingent in the stands, the entire evening was bittersweet for the Southtowns Stars.

The squad had a goal waived off at 6:38 of the first period. The Stars were rushing Rebel goaltender Joseph Eppedio and the play was busy around the net but the puck remained live, trickling between the netminder’s pads and across the goal line, but the whistle had already been blown.

Long Island held a two-goal lead in the first period, opening with Greene’s score from an assist by Andy Koniuch at 6:44 and Jake Mastrandrea’s short-handed tally at 14:14.

Things continued to get worse for the Stars.

Forward Alexander Zach was taken down on his way towards Eppedio and taken down. After a conference among the three on-ice officials, Zach was awarded a penalty shot at 3:06 of the second period. He skated down the slot, veering left and shot the puck low towards the right side. Eppedio dropped his pad down and deflected the vulcanized rubber prize away from its intended destination for the save.

“I knew they had to come back, they’ve shown that ability,” Long Island coach Mike Hendrickson said. “We got into trouble with penalties in front of the net.”

The Southtowns Stars, for the second time on Saturday, surged from a deficit to tie the contest.

Derrick Esford scored a powerplay goal during a 5-on-3 with assists from Ryan Sheehan and Russell Hurley at 1:57. Southtowns took advantage of another man-advantage when Robert Mascia scored an unassisted powerplay goal at 6:33 to tie the game at two apiece.

One minute later Mastrandrea would score the game-winner.

“We just took the first half of the game off,” Stars coach David Burke said. “We had nine shots in the first two periods.”

Faced with elimination the Southtowns responded once again, tying the contest but failing to put the game away.

“They wanted it bad, too much,” Burke said. “They didn’t play as a team and forced it, not shooting the puck.”

The Stars put 18 shots on Eppedio in the third, coming up with goals twice, but failing to advance to the finals. That honor belongs to the Rebels.

“We just won the Long Island championship and they come alive in must-win games,” Hendrickson said. “They’re better in pressure situations.”

Long Island (1-1-1) will take on New Hartford (3-0) in the 9 a.m. semifinal while rival Westchester (3-0) will face Clifton Park (2-1) at 11. The championship final is set for 5 p.m.

First period scoring:
1. Long Island, Todd Greene (Andy Koniuch), 4:44. 2. Long Island, Jake Mastrandrea (unassisted), 14:14, shg.
Penalties: Long Island – Ashton Moss (roughing), 6:38; Ed Shinnick (cross checking), 13:05. Southtowns – Anthony Draves (roughing), 6:38; Ryan Sheehan (boarding), 8:46; Anthony Draves (crosschecking), 14:20.

Second period scoring: None.
Penalties: Long Island – Andy Koniuch (high stick), 2:53; Korey Hendrickson (unsportsmanlike), 6:44. Southtowns – Ryan Sheehan (unsportsmanlike), 6:44; Michael Breckon (unsportsmanlike), 7:39; Michael Breckon (10:00 misconduct), 7:39.

Third period scoring: 3. Southtowns, Derrick Esford (Ryan Sheehan, Russell Hurley), 1:57, ppg. 4. Southtowns, Robert Mascia (unassisted), 6:33, ppg. 5. Long Island, John Rossi (unassisted), 7:26.
Penalties: Long Island – Ed Shinnick (check from behind), :20; Ed Shinnick (check from behind 10:00), :20; Ashton Moss (cross check), 1:25; Patrick Omlor (unsportsmanlike), 4:29; Nicholas Souza (tripping), 5:02; Korey Hendrickson (cross checking), 10:49; Timmy Roggemann (unsportsmanlike), 17:00. Southtowns – Ryan Sheehan (unsportsmanlike), 6:29; Anthony Draves (unsportsmanlike), 17:00.

Long Island 2 0 1 – 3
Southtowns 0 0 2 – 2
Goalie saves: Long Island –
Joseph Eppedio, 25 saves. Southtowns, Shawn Starkweather, 19 saves.

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