Garden City Wings Ice Hockey Club

Wings Varsity 2009-2010 February 24,2010 Article by Brian Kacharaba
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Markopoulos Brothers Help Garden City Stun First-Place Levittown in Finals Opener
Siblings score in opening and final minutes of second period and Wax makes 23 saves in 2-1 win; Wings play for championship Friday night

A hockey team needs solid goaltending and a little luck to win in the playoffs. The Garden City Wings are getting just that and are now one win away from an improbable division championship.

Thanks to the Markopoulos brothers and more stellar goaltending from David Wax, the Wings shocked top-seeded Levittown 2-1 in the opener of the Liberty Division finals Tuesday night at the Bethpage Community Center Ice Rink and can seal the title with either a win on Friday or Sunday in the best-of-three series.

Levittown had just one regulation loss in 19 regular-season contests (16-1-2) and featured the division's leading scorer in Daniel Donohue, while Garden City went 10-9-1, with one of the wins coming via forfeit. But the Wings had played the Ice Falcons tough in the previous two meetings, skating to a 2-2 draw on Jan. 17 before a tough 2-1 defeat the following night at that same Bethpage rink.

"It's always good to beat them in the first game," forward Spiros Markopoulos said. "When you win the first one, you have a better chance of winning one of the other two games here. All of the pressure is on them."

Garden City had several chances to score in the opening minutes of the game, but it was Levittown who got on the board first at 9:20 on a goal by Joseph Finneran. But Wax regained his composure and made a spectacular glove save on a shot by Donahue in the final minute of the period to maintain the one-goal deficit. The save would later prove to be the biggest of the game.

"We knew that we had them," forward Albert Markopoulos said. "We had a lot of pressure and getting pucks to the net so we weren't really too nervous about (giving up the first goal). We knew we would get it back."

Just 25 seconds into the second period, Spiros Markopoulos was ready to take a faceoff in the right circle and planned to push it towards the net in hopes of giving brother Albert a scoring chance. But instead, he put the puck by Levittown goalie Nick Prossimo for the surprising game-tying tally.

"My linemate (Albert) told me to shoot the puck towards the net and he was going to crash it and it just went in," he said.

That luck was reminiscent of the goal scored by defenseman Tim Moynihan in Sunday night's semifinal game, when his point shot went off the leg of a Manhasset-Roslyn defenseman and into the net that also tied it 1-1 with just over four minutes left in regulation. Moynihan eventually scored in double-overtime to send Garden City to the finals.

The game stayed deadlocked until the final minute of the second, when Albert Markopoulos deflected Elias Georgas' point shot past Prossimo with 13.7 seconds left for the eventual game-winning goal.

"During the period, we talked about getting a lot of shots on net," Albert Markopoulos said. "We basically kept on throwing them at the net and good stuff happens."

From there, it was up to Wax. He stopped all six shots he faced in the final period, including consecutive ones off John Speelman with less than seven minutes remaining. He trapped the first in his chest off a shot from in-close before gloving another attempt from the right side almost 30 seconds later.

"(Wax has played) two big games," Spiros Markopoulos said. "He plays a tough game."

Wax finished with 23 saves, while Prossimo had 28.

The Wings' defense was just as solid by keeping most of Donohue's shots at medium-to-long range. Also, with 5:20 left, Georgas tied up Levittown's Michael Maxwell and knocked him off the puck to prevent a partial breakaway from the right wing side.

"Being the away team, we had the first (line) change so they can match really with us," assistant coach Brian Johnston said. "We're confident enough in our boys where we can just send them out there and know they're going to play hard defensively and offensively. There really wasn't much of a game plan for them."

Garden City played without captain Patrick Donahue and Steve Lanciotti, the latter being suspended for receiving a game misconduct penalty at the conclusion of the regular-season finale against Syosset on Feb. 12. Levittown also had two players suspended, including captain and third-leading scorer Ryan Breck.

Game 2 of the series, also at Bethpage, will begin at 9:15 p.m. this Friday.

"I'm going to expect a very close game," Johnston said. "The last three games we played against them have either been a tie or a one-goal game so anything can happen."

The Wings fly around the Ice Falcons net in the first period. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Garden City's Phillip Volz (L) battles Levittown's Ryan Maraldo in the corner. Credit Brian Kacharaba

The Wings celebrate Spiros Markopoulos' game-tying goal 25 seconds into the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Levittown's Chris Pizzo (12) jostles with Garden City's Chris Arena along the end boards. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Garden City's Spiros Markopoulos gets knocked down by Levittown's Brian Pizzo (28) at the side of the net. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Garden City's Spiros Markopoulos plays the puck behind the Levittown net during the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Garden City goalie David Wax covers the puck while his defenders prevent the Ice Falcons from crashing the net. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Levittown's Brian Gallart (11) chases the puck into the offensive zone. Credit Brian Kacharaba

Garden City goalie David Wax (1) makes another save while Elias Georgas (19) prevents Levittown's Daniel Donohue (91) from getting to the rebound. Credit Brian Kacharaba

-Garden City's Phillip Volz (28) looks for a scoring chance, but Levittown goalie Nick Prossimo covers the puck. Credit Brian Kacharaba

The Wings celebrate their Game 1 victory. Credit Brian Kacharaba

The teams are ready to begin the Liberty Divison finals. Credit Brian Kacharaba

David Wax made 19 of his 23 saves over the final two periods for Garden City. Credit Brian Kacharaba

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