For the first time, the Bellmore-Merrick Junior Varsity hockey team has qualified for the New York State Championships.
The Bulldogs (6-4-1) defeated North Shore-Locust Valley on Jan. 30 to gain entry. The winner of that game was set to qualify, and Bellmore-Merrick was down 7-5 late before tallying four straight goals en route to a 9-7 win.
“It’s pretty exciting, because kids don’t
usually have the opportunity to play in a game where that game determines
whether or not you go to the championships," Andrew Cooper, president of the Bellmore-Merrick Bulldogs Hockey Club, said.
Now, the Bulldogs, along with undefeated Manhasset, will represent the area at the state tournament in Ithaca from March 1-3.
“The New York State Club High School Hockey
Championships are now the goal," Cooper said. "You play against the top teams in the other
divisions throughout the state of New York."
Due to Hurricane Sandy, the hockey season had to be extended into April. In fact, a lot of the Bulldogs' games were held at the Long Beach arena, so not only were times rescheduled, but locations were changed as well. The decision on who qualified for the State Championships was made on Jan. 31.
The Bulldogs are made up of 19 players in ninth, 10th and 11th grade, and Cooper said they have put it all on the line for their team.
"I'd like to say it's a testament to our program," he said. "But these kids work so hard. They deserve it."