Despite his age and size, Syosset sophomore forward Corey Hoffman has a big presence on the ice.
Hoffman, 5-6 and 145 pounds, is the first Nassau hockey league player to amass 100 points in a season, but his unselfish mentality is what makes him one of the league's best. He led the league with 67 points the year before.
"It's a challenge and I get double teamed a lot, so it opens up chances for my teammates," he said. "I try to make the kids around me better and that's what's most important to me."
Hoffman, 15, finished with 46 goals and 55 assists, and attributes those numbers to his teammates' ability to finish the scoring chances he creates.
"I give my teammates an opportunity to score but it doesn't just happen, they do the work," Hoffman said. "I don't really care about scoring goals and it shows in my stats. It's not about individual stuff; it's about the team."
But more times than not, it's been Hoffman's creativity that has lifted Syosset.
Braves coach Richard Goldstein recalled a game in which the team had a large lead, and Hoffman told a teammate, "Just stand in front of the net; I'll make sure you score.'' Hoffman then fired the puck off his teammate's leg and into the net, Goldstein said.
"That tells you what kind of player he is," Goldstein said. "He makes everyone around him better and that's what an elite hockey player does."
"I admit I [did] rack up points against the lesser teams, but I had a lot of points against the better teams, too," Hoffman said. "We don't let up , and try to work on things that we want to use in tougher games, but I'm definitely looking to pass more in that situation."
Syosset tied Long Beach for the Michelino Division's best record, 16-4-1, and because the Braves held the head-to-head edge over the Marines in the two games they played, Syosset clinched the regular-season title and earned a trip to the Large School state championships March 2.
Although Long Beach beat Syosset in the Michelino playoffs, it was Hoffman's performance in those two regular-season games that secured first place and the bid to states. Hoffman had three goals and two assists in Syosset's 6-4 win over Long Beach on Dec. 5, and led a six-goal comeback in their second meeting Jan. 31 to force a 7-7 tie.
Hoffman says his biggest strength is his vision, and that he's able to "stay two steps ahead of the play."
"As I'm getting the puck, I already know what I'm doing next, whether it's skating or giving it up," Hoffman said. "That helps us score more goals."
Hoffman also plays for the Long Island Gulls under-16 team, and has been contacted by prep schools and other high-level junior teams for next season. He'll have to decide at the end of the year whether to return to Syosset, but for now, he is focused only on the state championships.
"It's all up in the air right now, I'm just going to take [hockey] as far as I can," Hoffman said. "It's been a great experience [this season] with all the points but it's been a great season for the Braves and we're trying to win."
- Live Games