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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Team Suffolk 6, Team Qiqihar 2 - By Ashley Piccione

With less than an hour to mentally and physically prepare for the championship game, the Rinx got their heads together, gathered their thoughts and came out with the win.

When the game started both teams took their positions on the ice and within a matter of minutes Suffolk took the lead, but QiQhar China answered right back tying the game at 1-1.

In the second period Suffolk came out dominating QiQhar with three goals making it a 4-1 game.  Suffolk closed out the scoring with two tallies in the final 15 minutes of play to take the championship 6-2.

As the final seconds of the Lighthouse International Tournament Championship game ticked down, the Suffolk players prepared to rush the ice in celebration and as the buzzer sounded, they piled on top of their goalie, chanting “U-S-A.”

Immediately after the game, there was a medal ceremony with special presenters, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow and Team President Chris Dey. QiQhar China came in second place receiving the silver medal and the champions Suffolk received the gold medal. After the medal ceremony, each team took pictures at center ice with Snow and Dey.

“It was awesome; the kids came together as a group and played as a team and we were lucky enough to come out with a win.” Suffolk coach Dickson said.

On Sunday all the teams involved in the tournament will spend a day in New York City and on Monday will end their five-day event at the closing banquet.

Suffolk Rinx 3, Finland 1 - By Ashley Piccione

Out of the eight teams that participated in the Lighthouse International Tournament, four of them made it to the semifinals on Saturday, at the Nassau Coliseum. The first two teams who battled for the position to play in the championship were, Team Finland (Ibles) and the Suffolk Rinx. 

In the first period Suffolk came out strong scoring two goals in the first, making it a 2-0 game as Connor Auers and Tony Abruzzo both scored.

No goals were scored during the second period but the intensity to tally one was there.  Several penalties were called as the two teams battled for the upper-hand with their fans cheering them on. 

With 4:50 left on the clock, Suffolk’s Rob Contiemp registered his lone goal of the game, making the score 3-1 in favor of Suffolk. The teams continued to battle it out in the final minutes with the clock ticking down. As the buzzer sounded, Suffolk flew off their bench and pilled on top of their goalie, celebrating their win and putting them in the championship game later in the day. The final score was the Suffolk 3, Finland Ibles 1.

“This is fantastic for the kids,” Dickson said.  “The kids are on cloud nine, enjoying themselves and we could not ask for more. Their energy is sky high right now and hopefully we can carry it over into the finals.”
For thirteen-year-old John Kinsey this is his first time playing in the International Tournament as well as his first time playing on the Nassau Coliseum ice.  When the team found out that they had advanced to the playoffs, they were exhilarated.

Kinsey returned to the dressing room with a big smile on his face, excited to play in the championship later today.  On his way, he passed the man responsible for the event, Mr Charles Wang, and without hesitation thanked him for the experience he will never forget.

Qiqihar 8, Nassau 2 - By Jonathan Bamel

Playing in front of what is probably considered their home crowd, the Nassau Islanders hoped to continue their winning ways against the team from Qiqihar. 

The first period was a back and forth battle as every goal scored by Qiqihar was answered at the other end by the Nassau.  It looked as if Qiqihar was going take a 2-1 into the second period, but that was before Eric. Friedlander scored a great backhand goal while his team was shorthanded to tie the score up at two.

In the second period Qiqihar continued to put pressure on the Nassau team and scored 5 minutes in, beating Nassau goalie, Matt Congero on a breakaway.  Congero was able to turn aside the remainder of the Qiqihar shots in the middle frame, giving his team the chance to tie the game in the third. 

Unfortunately, Qiqihar scored five unanswered goals and ended up winning by the score 8-2. 

Liu Wen, the head coach for the Qiqihar team explained that his team was tense early on and tired from the adjustments to the time-zone change.

“We are very happy with the experience,” Wen said.  “Not only the players are learning new things, but we as coaching are also learning techniques that will help us coach our players. At any time there are seven players on the ice that don’t have the puck and they need to learn where to position themselves in the most beneficial way for the team.”
Qiqihar looks to continue their success in the finals, and will take on the team from Suffolk county in the championship.  It will be a battle of the first and second ranked teams going into the semifinals.

Tending Japan - By Jonathan Bamel

As the Islanders arrived for their game on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, little did they know that a full day of hockey had already been taking place. The 2010 Lighthouse International Tournament hosts teams from Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as teams from Connecticut, Japan, China and Finland. The tournament gives kids a chance to test their skills against teams from all over the world. 

As the Nassau Islanders took the ice for their game against Team Japan, Thomas Sullivan III from Floral Park, Long Island helped his team to a 7-3 victory.  But it wasn’t the Nassau Islanders that he was playing for.  Thomas was recruited to play for the Japanese team after they came to the Lighthouse Tournament without a goalie.

Sullivan attends John Louis Child Elementary School in Floral Park, and has been playing hockey since he was five-years old.  He plays for a house league at the Iceland Skating Rink for a team called the Devils. Sullivan is in the sixth grade and his mother, Roxanne Mahler, who coached Thomas ever since he played at the squirt level said that he loves hockey and has only played goalie ever since he first laced up his skates.

“Letting Thomas skip a little school is well worth it because he is getting a cultural experience of a lifetime, playing with kids from halfway around the world and learning their customs,” Mahler said.

The first period of the Nassau/Japan game was a close one that ended tied at two. After that, Sullivan stopped all but one of the remaining shots en route to a 7-3 Team Japan victory.  When asked about the game, Sullivan said he thought he played great and felt he made a few big saves. Sullivan admitted that he is usually a pretty quiet goalie even when playing for his home team, and when asked if communication was an issue when playing with the Japanese team he said he was able to talk to them in other ways.

“Some of them speak English, and the ones that don’t, I just whack them in the back of the leg if I want them to move,” Sullivan said. “I haven’t learned any Japanese hockey phrases yet. The team tried to teach me some on the bus yesterday, but it just didn’t work out.”

“It’s fun playing against other teams especially if they speak another language. It’s just nice to hear them.  They have different customs…but on the ice, they all play great.”

American Japanese - By Ashley Piccione

What is it like to be an American born in Japan and play Japanese Hockey? Taylor Walshe, a member of the pee wee level Japan team competing at the Lighthouse International Tournament, is a Japanese native with an American background. This is Taylor’s first time playing in the Lighthouse International Tournament at the Nassau Coliseum.

Walshe’s interest in hockey all began when a friend of his in Japan mentioned that he should play hockey. Walshe ended up joining and ever since he hasn’t left the ice.

In the summer time Walshe comes to the Unites States and lives in Massachusetts, but during the school year he lives in Japan, attending an American school. A few of his teammates speak both Japanese and American so they help him with the language when he needs. There are certain techniques that Walshe has learned from the Japanese players, such as when he wants the puck he bangs his stick on the ice and they know to pass to him.

On Friday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum Team Japan took the ice against the Nassau Islanders, and won 7-3. Walshe, a defenseman with the team, scored one of the goals for Team Japan after his coach moved him up to play forward. 

“It was actually kind of fun to play a different position. There is more of a chance to score goals,” Walshe said.  “This has been really exciting because I only play hockey games against Japanese teams, I have never played any other country so it is quite exciting to be a part of this tournament, playing in the United States.”

Being apart of the Lighthouse International Tournament for the first time Walshe was able to take in all the NHL experience of playing on the Coliseum ice, as well as attending his first NHL game. Walshe got to witness the Islanders take on the Florida Panthers Thursday night when they won 2-1 in a shootout.

“I thought it was really exciting because it went into a shootout, and once they scored it was exciting to see everyone screaming and yelling.” Walshe said. “The fans and crowds are different in Japan. There is an ice rink and a bench, and the rinks are much smaller so there are not many people in the crowd yelling.”

While participating in the tournament Walshe has made friends with other teams, one team in particular, The Suffolk Islanders.

“I have made really good friends with some of Team Suffolk, they are always like oh teach me something in Japanese, and they always ask me questions.” Walshe said. After the tournament is all said and done, Walshe said he looks forward to keeping in touch with his new friends.

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