Freeport, N.Y. is located on the south shore of Long Island in Nassau County, near Brooklyn. This location meant Freeport and the surrounding communities were hit hard when Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New York.
Sandy did not play any favorites and spared no one in its path. The Arrows Youth Hockey Organization, headquartered in Freeport, witnessed this first hand.
Six coaches and about 30 kids in the organization were hit hard by the worst that Mother Nature wrought. Luckily, unlike other nearby facilities, the Arrows’ rink survived.
“We all rallied around the idea of the rink being a place to get away, a chance to let go,” the Arrows 18-and-Under coach Chris Hogan said. “It was the old clichés, but this time the clichés were real.”
None more so than for the captain of the 18U team, Micky Wallace, whose family home was destroyed along with most of his personal belongings. He continued to live on the second floor, while the first floor, which received four feet of water, was gutted.
“The team put together about $3,000 worth of random household particulars, sheets, blankets, and some cold hard cash,” Hogan said. “We picked Mick up, because he picks us up everyday. I have learned so much from this young man over the last three years and he truly is an inspiration for me and my coaching style.”
The team needed some inspiration even without Sandy. Hogan wasn’t sure he would be able to form an 18U team because so many graduated last year. Only three players returned as Hogan brought in 17 new members.
One of those newcomers, who was a late addition, was Albert Markopolous.
“Without this kid, no way we would be national bound, never mind making it to the states,” Hogan said. “‘The Quiet Assassin’ never says much, but boy can this kid fly and finish. Albert was the best gift I have ever received. Not only was he a dominating figure on the ice, but this kid was cut from quality stone. He is mature beyond his years, a natural leader, and just a good old-fashioned, laid back kid. He influenced everyone for the better.”
Then there is Bobby Oldmixon, who scored the New York state championship-winning goal in triple overtime to beat the Cheektowaga Warriors, 5-4.
“In the closing minutes of the third extra period my assistant captain, Bobby Oldmixon, sniped one short side to send everyone into a state of shock and euphoria,” Hogan said. “I immediately was overwhelmed with emotion. These kids worked so hard for almost nine months, and this was a special group. I have known a few of these boys since they were Mites, including our hero, Bobby O.”
Hogan added, “We had a serious grind line — Shawn Post, James Jiritano and Mick Minarchyzk became our glue.”
The Arrows have a strong goaltending duo and a solid defensive corps led by Greg Klarides.
“He was a true leader on and off the ice,” Hogan said. “Taking the younger core of defenseman under his wings in order to prepare them for the coaching staff’s expectations.”
The Arrows are now heading off to the USA Hockey Tier II National Championships April 3-7 in Hartford, Conn. They have already been through Sandy and a triple overtime district title game. Could a national title be in the cards?
“I’m not thinking about winning or losing,” Hogan said. “My first priority is the experience for the kids. I really relish the experience by USA Hockey and the tournament they put on.
“I’m looking for effort. We’ll skate as hard as we can and see where the chips fall.”
Lately, the chips have been falling pretty good for a community still recovering from Sandy’s devastation.
“My hope is that everyone can just stay in the moment and enjoy the ride,” Hogan said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.