Long Beach High School brought home the New York State ice hockey title on Sunday in a dramatic victory that followed an undefeated regular season.
Despite a 6-5 overtime loss to Cold Spring Harbor on Feb. 15 during game three of the Nassau County championships — Long Beach defeated Cold Spring 3-2 the night before in a best two-out-of-three series — the Marines, still the No. 1 seed, marched on to the New York State AAU championship.
“We had a great undefeated regular season,” said Long Beach head coach Joe Brand. “We lost the counties by a goal — we went into the state tournament as the number one seed.”
With a sharp defensive effort lead by the tournament MVP goaltender Kieran Byrne, the Marines (22-2-2) stifled a tough Roy-Hart/Barker/Medina team to coast to a 3-1 victory to capture the state crown at the Northwell Health Ice Arena at Eisenhower Park.
“In my 25 years of coaching, they played as close to a perfect game I’ve ever seen,” Brand said. “The looks on the kids’ faces and determination that they showed physically — and what they looked like mentally — they were pumped and primed to go and do it. We scored a quick goal at the start of the game. Our grinders did the grinding, our depth guys provided depth, our goaltenders stopped the puck and our clutch guys scored clutch goals.”
Brand said the team boasted a defensive core in players Jack Gannon, Ronan Judge and Jarrod Pine that was easily the best in the state. Forwards Luke Judge and Declan Conway helped lead the team to victory on Sunday, with Judge scoring a goal and Conway putting two in the net.
“It was a young team — a tremendously talented group of kids,” Brand said. “Our only concern was whether or not we were going to be able to season them and mature them in time to be successful this year — and it happened. Not just the freshman class but the sophomores and younger classmen provided so much depth to our lineup, and that was the reason for our success.”