When the team held its first practice in October, Laurelli thought it would be best to split up his top three forwards in order to get some balanced scoring from each of his lines. But about two-thirds of the way through the season, he and assistant coaches Kerry Zelanka and Leone decided to form one line with Kaszuba, Clayton and Hendrickson.
Kaszuba, whom coaches described as the team’s most dangerous scorer, said he and his line mates were successful because of their chemistry. “We all work well together,” he said. “We understand each other, we know where each other want the puck and what we’re going to do with the puck.”
Although he was one of only two freshmen on the team, Hendrickson said that he and his teammates got along well, and he was quick to make friends with a number of the seniors.
Junior Brett Epstein and senior Dustin Muccio-Schrimpe split time as the team’s goalies. Laurelli switched them up in the middle of the second period in every game in which they both played. Having two goaltenders who can make big saves made his job much easier, Laurelli said.
The team practiced wherever there was available ice time, mostly at the Newbridge Arena in Bellmore and Islanders IceWorks, the practice facility for the New York Islanders, in Syosset. After Hurricane Sandy struck in October, other local facilities were no longer available for hockey practice, which made Laurelli’s job more difficult.
Lynbrook-East Rockaway began the season by winning seven of its first eight games, and finished with a 10-4-1 record, which was good for first place in the Liberty Division. The team’s 3-0 playoff run and division championship earned the 20 local boys a trip to the New York State Club School Hockey Varsity Open Division championship at the Northtown Center in Amherst, N.Y., last weekend.
In four games, Lynbrook-East Rockaway finished 1-2-1 and earned a trip to the semifinals, where the squad lost to Jamestown, 2-0. The team was without three of its top players for most of the weekend due to commitments to other teams.
This championship season won’t soon be forgotten by the team’s players, coaches and families. “I’m definitely going to look back on this in the future and appreciate what I had,” Kaszuba said.