The High School Hockey League of Nassau County’s 2013-14 season is in full swing and only one of 15 teams carried an undefeated record into January.
Long Beach has dominated the competition with a perfect 7-0 mark in the Michelino Division and a goal differential of plus-35. The Marines scored at least five goals in every game so far and hit double digits when they beat Port Washington, 10-6, in a wide-open affair that coach Joe Brand used a learning tool.
“It was our first game in our arena in over a year, so the kids were jacked up to play,” Brand said. “We preach keeping our goals against down, but that night we got caught up in the excitement and got away from what we do best.
“We came back and shut down a very good Syosset team 5-0,” he added.
Long Beach, which lost in the semifinals last season after winning a state championship in the 2011-12 campaign, features a mix of veterans and young players, Brand said. “We’re getting contributions from everyone,” he noted. “The defense has been great, the forwards are clicking, and our goaltending concerns were answered early.”
Seniors Kieran Hurley and Evan Schwartz are dynamic forwards who rank among the county leaders in scoring. “They’re fun to watch and have produced some highlight-reel goals,” Brand said. Juniors Will Guido, Kevin Brand, and Michael Leonetti, sophomore Larry Niland and freshman Kenny Ferrara are getting the job done up front as well. The defense is spearheaded by senior Tom McGovern and junior James Delahanty, while junior Mark Pittinsky has stepped up as the first-year starting goalie.
“We had a great first half and now we’ve got to crank it up again,” Brand said.
Long Beach is the only team to knock off Bellmore-Merrick, which held an impressive 6-1 record when the calendar flipped to January. The Bulldogs own the best goal differential in the county at plus-46. Coach Chris Patten’s squad has netted 58 goals while allowing only 12, with seven of those coming at the hands of the Marines.