Oceanside wins first Liberty Division title
Oceanside had never won a league championship in hockey entering Sunday's deciding Game 3 of Nassau's Liberty Division finals, and all it took to make Sailors history was a career performance from the team's top defenseman.
Junior Andrew Green scored a career-high four goals as Oceanside beat East Williston, 9-4, at Bethpage, giving the Sailors a 2-1 series win and their first Liberty championship.
"This is just amazing,'' Green said. "We really put it together nicely and it's just unreal.''
"This feels great,'' coach Bill Clark said. "We've been coaching this team for 18 years and it's just a tremendous feeling. I feel great for these kids. They've worked hard all year and fought so hard for this.''
Clark had high praise for his leading defenseman. "I can't say enough about Green,'' he said. "He's unbelievable. He's a great offensive defenseman. He's our Brian Leetch, our Ray Bourque, you name it.''
Oceanside opened the scoring at 11:55 during the game's first power play when Kieran Hurley put a rebound past East Williston goalie Graham Turk. Turk initially stopped two consecutive Oceanside shots from the slot.
East Williston tied the score at 1 on a great individual effort by Nicholas Kelapire, who circled through the offensive zone with the puck and fired a backhander on net that surprised Oceanside goalie Dominick Lamano, sneaking through his legs.
The Sailors outscored the Wildcats 4-1 in the second period to take a 5-2 lead.
After Green scored his first of the night to put Oceanside up 2-1, Mike Jennings contributed the first of what would be a series of Oceanside's prettiest goals of the season. Jennings brought the puck in the offensive zone, slid it through a defender's legs, regained possession and faked out Turk with 7:58 left in the second.
After East Williston made it 3-2 on Matthew Bernot's penalty shot, Green scored his second of the night by taking the puck end-to-end and beating Turk with a backhander.
Joe Mitchell and Brian Hurley then worked a give-and-go, with Mitchell batting Hurley's rebound out of midair into the back of the net.
Green completed his hat trick at the start of the third for a 6-2 lead and made it 7-3 with his fourth goal, finishing a three-on-one rush on a pass from Cam Kelly with 8:48 left.
"We saw a lot of open ice out there,'' Green said, "but it starts with staying back and playing smart defense, and once we saw an opening, we got aggressive and came through with our chances.''
Mitchell and Kieran Hurley each notched his second goal of the night late in the third to round out the Oceanside scoring and wrap up the series.
Oceanside won Game 1, 6-4, on Feb. 14 and East Williston took Game 2, 5-4, on Feb. 15.
East Williston had won all three regular-season meetings against the Sailors this season. Mitchell, a senior, was surprised about how the season played out.
"It was a good series and we pulled it out today. It feels great,'' he said. "I didn't know what to expect to start the season, but this was a blast.''
Both teams will play in the Open Division state championships in Jamestown starting Friday.