The GNY Stars 16UAA secured a berth in the NY State Amateur Hockey Association tournament in a hard fought 2 game home and home battle against the Nassau County Lions. The 2 game format to determine the bid was not enough as both teams held serve at home forcing them into a 15 minute playoff to yield a winner.
The Stars earned the right to play in these games as a result of finishing in 2nd place in the LIAHL. They had a stellar 15-2-1 regular season record including a 13 game win streak which was buoyed by a stretch of games where they did not allow a goal in 6 straight league games. Amazingly the team, led by the tandem of goalies Michael Marino and Michael Grima only allowed 15 goals in 18 games for a minuscule .84 GAA. Coupled with the 6 goals a game they averaged for and you can see why they were so successful this season.
That success will only get you so far as they then had to fend off the outside challenge from the independent Nassau County Lions in the aforementioned 2 game "playdown" for States. The first game took place at Abe Stark on 2/16 and the opening period ended up scoreless as both teams fought through nerves in the attempt to gain the upper hand early. The pace started to pick up in the middle frame and finally the Stars broke through as Thomas Smith created his own scoring chance as he delivered a crunching check along the half boards which resulted in an odd man rush. Smitty took control of the puck at the opposing blue line, made a move around the defender and launched the puck into the net for a 1-0 Stars lead. They doubled their advantage on the power play when the patient passing of Joe Lachase and Ryan Murphy resulted in a Bobby Farr tip off of the Murphy point shot. The defense clamped down only allowing 2 shots in the final period and an extra goal for good measure was added. If at first you don't succeed try and try again as Daniel Apice who had a goal waved off a minute prior cashed one in from the slot on a pretty backhand pass from Bobby Farr. Game 1 to the Stars with a convincing 3-0 win with shutout honors going to Michael Marino.
With the Stars in the driver's seat, all they needed to do was tie to advance in game 2 on Sunday, 2/17 at Cantiague Park. Easier said than done as nobody expected Nassau County to go down without a fight. They quickly found themselves in a hole as the Lion's scored halfway through the first period. Just like the Stars did in game 1, Nassau County jumped out to a 2-0 lead as they converted on the power play in the 2nd period. Despite 29 shots and 5 man advantages, the Stars remained scoreless iheading into the final stanza. There was life for the visitors with 12 minutes remaining as Thomas Beach cut the lead in half with a power play tally. The Stars tried in vain to knot it up and despite keeping the Lions without a shot in the 3rd, they ran out of time so it was on to the 15 minute extra session which was not sudden death.
The Stars came out determined not to let this opportunity slip away. Their hard work helped them acquire a man advantage which in turn gave them an all important 1-0 lead as Bobby Farr came through once again on the power play. Three minutes later Jimmy Hennessy supplied some desperately needed insurance so the margin of error was not razor thin. The Stars ended up outshooting their opponent 16-4 in the extra session(55-20 combined on the day) en route to securing a 2-0 win to unleash pandemonium at the final buzzer and a trip to states which will take place in Buffalo in March.
Congratulations to the players and their families and to Coaches Mike Davie, Adam Diorio and Dillon Balsamo on a great season culminating in this wonderful achievement.
Special mention to managers Dan Apice and Joe Meehan for all their behind the scenes work and efforts in keeping the team informed.
Best of luck at States!!