When Lynbrook High School sophomore Greg Hendrickson corralled a loose puck in overtime, made a move on a defenseman from Levittown-Hicksville and fired a shot past the goaltender, his teammates mobbed him on the ice in celebration. The sudden-death goal gave the Lynbrook-East Rockaway varsity hockey program its second consecutive championship in the Liberty Division of the High School Hockey League of Nassau County.
Lynbrook-East Rockaway, which finished 13-4 in the regular season, good for second place in the division, squared off against top-seeded Levittown-Hicksville earlier this month in a best-of-three championship series. Lynbrook-East Rockaway won the first game, dropped the second and needed overtime in game three to win the title.
The third game was a 12-minute mini-game played shortly after game two, but neither team scored a goal, so a five-minute overtime was needed. Hendrickson, the team’s leading scorer, sent everyone home with his game-winner about 30 seconds in. “It was just awesome,” he said.
“It was a great feeling,” said East Rockaway High School senior Andrew Torlincasi, who jumped off the bench to celebrate with his teammates when the shot went in. “It was even better than last year.”
The team has two goaltenders — Lynbrook High senior Brett Epstein and South Side High sophomore Jason Posner — who split time most of the season, but it was Epstein in net during the finals. He shut out Levittown-Hicksville in the third game, making several key stops, coach Kerry Zelanka said.
“There was a lot of tension in that third game and overtime,” Epstein said. “I tried to do whatever I could to keep my team in it, and luckily I was able to keep the puck out of the net.”
The Liberty Division comprises seven of the HSHLNC’s 19 varsity teams. Prior to last season, the last time local players took home a championship was in 1932, when all were from Lynbrook. They joined forces with East Rockaway in 2011. Other players were drafted from neighboring communities -— like Posner, from Rockville Centre -— to fill out the roster.