Pucksters miss Spiros Markopoulos; allow four third-period goals in second straight loss to Braves.
Despite ending the regular-season on a down note, the Garden City Wings hockey team believes they have what it takes to make some noise in the playoffs.
The Wings lost their second straight game to Syosset 5-3 Friday night at the Bethpage Community Center ice rink, but will finish third in the
Liberty Division because of an expected forfeit win over Manhasset/Roslyn in a game that was originally postponed earlier this season. They will
face either Levittown or Oceanside in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday, Feb. 21.
"If we play as a team, bring our 'A' game and give it 100 percent, we definitely have a shot," assistant coach Brian Johnston said.
Garden City led twice, but neither lasted more than two minutes. The first came with 1:08 left in the second period when William Barbaro
finished off a 2-on-1 break with Albert Markopoulos, but Syosset's Tommaso Bucci tied it 16 seconds into the final stanza by banging in the
puck during a goalmouth scramble.
The Wings regained the lead at 3:18 of the third when Markopoulos swooped in from the right side and deked Braves goalie David Lynch before
depositing a backhander into the vacated net. But just 71 seconds later, Josh Schoenbart jammed in a rebound at the side of the net after
Wings goalie David Wax stopped Adam Goldstein's initial wraparound attempt.
Goldstein scored what proved to be the game-winner just past the midway point of the third when his shot from the slot got by Wax. Bucci added
an empty-netter with 21.3 seconds remaining to give Syosset its third win in five tries against Garden City this season. The Braves outlasted the
Wings 4-2 at Bethpage Feb. 5.
"The first two periods defensively we played very well," Johnston said. "In the third period, they got that quick one and the defense broke down.
We didn't hit anybody in front. It was tough to watch because usually we play more physical than we did tonight and for some reason we let them
loose in front and that was how they got their goals."
Garden City had plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the final minutes. Lynch stopped Chris Arena off another 2-on-1 break with 3:21 left
and Patrick Donahue's wrister through a screen just over a minute later. He foiled Arena again in front of the Braves' net seconds before Bucci's
"The last couple of games, it's just been one thing after the other," Johnston said. "We've had the chances. It's just either the goalie makes a
nice save, (we) hit a post or push it just wide."
Defenseman Tim Moynihan had the other goal for the Wings, who played without top-line forward Spiros Markopoulos and defenseman Elias Georgas.
Markopoulos, Albert's brother, was playing for the Long Island Royals of the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League on Friday.
Garden City already knows it will be missing Steve Lanciotti for Sunday's playoff game after he received a game misconduct for cross-checking
and temporarily injuring Syosset's Skylar Marin at the buzzer. The penalty brings an automatic suspension.
Though the Wings are mainly comprised of Garden City High School students, the school district does not sponsor the program. Players pay for
their own equipment and league dues. Johnston, coach Rick Peck and assistant Frank Kiernan are not employed by the school.
The only recognizable feature of this team is the red and white uniforms that closely resemble the NHL's Detroit Red Wings. The Garden City
Trojans wear maroon and gray duds.
But not being sponsored could be viewed as a positive because players can participate with different teams or sports while playing for the
Wings. Johnston said being sponsored would cause the team to lose some of the players to lacrosse, basketball and football.
Despite the extra funds that each player and their families have to endure in today's tough economy, enrollment on the team grew from a
"Actually, we have more kids this year than we had last year," Johnston said. "We have a middle school team, they're hurting a little bit,
but this team is seeing an increase. Last year, I think we only had maybe 13-14 guys."
The offense is lead by the Markopoulos brothers, who play together on the top line and always seem to know where the other is at all times.
Spiros recently participated for Nassau County in last month's Lighthouse Cup Game at Nassau Coliseum, while Al led the team in scoring as a sophomore.
"When they're together, you would think they are twins," Johnston said. "They always seem to know where they are at every given moment on the
ice. There's a two-year age difference between them so if you look at Albert in two years when he's his brother's age, then I think that's when you can
make a fair comparison."
The defense is anchored by Moynihan, who has a strong shot from the point that is especially useful on the power play. The corps is rounded
out by Sam Bartels, a rugged blueliner who can also chip in offensively, and Georgas and Robert Tomao.
Johnston said Wax, who stopped 16 shots Friday night, is a big reason why the Wings will finish 11-9-1 this season.
"If it wasn't for Wax this year, we wouldn't be in the standings where we are," Johnston said. "He single-handedly won five or six games
for us. He's been the man."
The Wings fly around the Ice Falcons net in the first period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
The teams line up for a third-period faceoff. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Albert Markopoulos (middle) celebrates his third-period goal. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's Thomas Martis (22) tried to corral a centering pass during the third period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's Steve Lanciotti tries to tie up a Syosset attacker during the third period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Syosset's Skylar Marin writhes in pain after being cross-checked at the buzzer by Garden City's Steve Lanciotti. Credit Brian Kacharaba
The Garden City Wings warm up prior to Friday night's game at Bethpage. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Albert Markopoulos had a goal and an assist in Friday night's loss. Credit Brian Kacharaba
David Wax had 16 saves in a losing effort. Credit Brian Kachara
Coach Rich Peck gives his final pre-game pep talk. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Syosset's Sam Gertler (19) tries to get behind the Wings defense during the first period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's John Wein (R) tries to make a play with Syosset's Skylar Marin barreling in. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Phillip Volz catches his breath after a whistle. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Albert Markopoulos (11) winds up during the first period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
David Wax stops Ariel DeLeon's first-period shot. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's John Wein gets caught in-between two Syosset players. Credit Brian Kacharaba
The Garden City offense tried to put the puck past sprawling Syosset goalie David Lynch. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's William Tranfaglia (51) chases Syosset's Adam Goldstein (23) during the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Wings captain Patrick Donahue lurks in the offensive zone during the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
David Wax kicks out the pad to stop Syosset's Tommaso Bucci (15) in the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's Steve Lanciotti is shadowed by Syosset's Jack Kotcher. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Albert Markopoulos lays on the ice after drawing a roughing penalty on Syosset's Richie Happel. Credit Brian Kacharaba
The Wings celebrate William Barbaro's goal late in the second period. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's Steve Lanciotti (L) skates behind the net after getting stopped by Syosset goalie David Lynch. Credit Brian Kacharaba
Garden City's William Barbaro (81) is checked by Syosset's Scott Rothstein (4). Credit Brian Kacharaba