Liodice: Suffolk playoff race gets interesting
About a week and a half ago on the HS SportsDesk I took a look at the Suffolk County High School Hockey League standings and tried to make sense of how the eight teams already qualfied for the playoffs would finish.
"We have the Big 4 with Smithtown, Half Hollow Hills, Connetquot/Sayville and St. John the Baptist..."
Foot. Enter mouth.
Wednesday night at The Rinx in Hauppauge, the Big 4 may have just become the "Furious Five" as Sachem downed Half Hollow Hills in an overtime thriller, 6-5.
Nick Tarasco scored the game-winning goal in the extra frame with just three seconds left on the clock to give the Arrows an extra point in the standings.
A drastically undermanned Half Hollow Hills squad that just dressed 12 skaters, and was without leading scorer Ben Sorkin for the fourth straight game (and what seems like forever for the Hornets) earned a much-needed one point. Ryan Rosenberg and (2 goals) and Jason Reiter (hat trick) provided all the scoring for HHH, which was down by as much as two goals with less than 5:00 to play.
Reiter, who also added two assists, scored Hills' fourth and fifth goals of the game with 3:52 and 0:56 left respectively to give the Hornets an extra five minutes of playing time. In a sudden shift of irony, the man that Reiter stole the puck from to score the game-tying goal (Tarasco), scored the game-winner for the Arrows.
So how does Sachem's win impact the SCHSHL playoff picture?
It doesn't do anything immediate, but it sure does leave a lot of possibilities with some teams still left to play as many as three games.
SCHSHL Playoff Picture (as of Jan 23)
|2||Half Hollow Hills||18||14||3||0||1||29|
|4||St. John the Baptist||17||12||5||0||0||24|
Kings Park/Commack already has its position locked up, and it'll be a tough task facing the No. 1-seed, whichever team that may be in Smithtown, Half Hollow Hills or Connetquot/Sayville.
Smithtown clearly is riding all the momentum in Suffolk as winners of its last eight games. A potential KPC/Smithtown game could be interesting, however. The Cougars played the Bulls tight on January 7, only to fall to the first place squad 3-2.
Wednesday night's overtime loss may come back to bite Half Hollow Hills in the future. The Hornets, which are expected to have Sorkin back in the lineup on Sunday against the above-mentioned Kings Park/Commack, will need to win its last two games in regulation to hold onto No. 2 or a potential No. 1 spot in the hopes Smithtown falls in its last three games. The Hornets have a hungry SJB on Monday.
Connetquot/Sayville will need to capitalize on the 9-2 win over Sachem which snapped a three-game winless streak. The T-Birds have Kings Park/Commack and East Islip, and finish with a heavyweight bout against Smithtown/Hauppauge in a possible first-place matchup.
Unfortunately for St. John the Baptist, top seed is no longer in the cards for the Cougars. The highest SJB can finish is No. 2, however with the struggles that HHH and Connetquot/Sayville have endured, second-seed is not entirely out of the question. Following its meeting with HHH on Monday, the Cougars have an already-eliminated St. Anthony's squad and a silently dangerous Sachem squad.
The Arrows can only move as high as the fourth seed. With three games left, the maximum amount of points they can get is 26, two less than third-place Connetquot/Sayville's 28. Sachem will have Hudson Valley's OCW and eliminated Middle Country before a potential fourth-place matchup with St. John the Baptist on Febuary 10.
East Islip can lock up the No. 6-seed with a win in any of its last three games against Washingtonville, Smithtown and Connetquot/Sayville. Not exactly an easy task for the Redmen. A Northport/Huntington loss will also do the trick. Speaking of the Tigers, they seem destined for the seventh seed with one game left, especially with a red-hot Smithtown squad ready for the co-op squad.
The last two and a half weeks will be an exciting one in Suffolk for sure. Stay tuned...