A High School Debut

The first-ever high school-age hockey game to be played on the East End
More scrimmages are looming, with Dix Hills, Beaver Dam, and Greenport. Craig Macnaughton

“Chase that puck as if it were the last scrap of food on earth,” Kyle Solomon told his and Cory Lillie’s charges between the first and second periods of Sunday morning’s ice hockey game at the Buckskill Winter Club — the first-ever high school-age hockey game to be played on the East End, in the words of the club’s owner, Doug De Groot.

Moreover, aside from the adult league Scott Green recently started at Buckskill, it was the first formal hockey game in these parts since Kip Farrington’s Southampton Seagulls played in the Suffolk County Hockey League in 1939 and the early 1940s. 

The Sharks, as they are called, were up against the Connetquot/Sayville jayvee, which, needless to say, won the exhibition game handily, 8-1, though it was evident to the 50 to 60 spectators that the locals, whom Solomon and Lillie have coached last winter and the one thus far, improved measurably from one period to the next.

Connetquot/Sayville’s coach, Glen Rothburd, was in that group of admirers. “There were a lot of nerves in the first period. They began to play the game in the second, and in the third they were better still — it was good to see. It’s a long journey, hockey.”

As for the outdoor rink at Buckskill, Rothburd, who’s used to indoor ones, in Hauppauge and Kings Park, said, “It’s beautiful. You wouldn’t know there were tennis courts underneath. It’s great to play outside.”

“The puck moves faster,” one of his co-coaches said. “It bounces differently. And when you fall,” he said, with a smile, “it hurts a lot more.”

The coaches, said Solomon, who, like Lillie, has played hockey at a high level, had agreed beforehand that only incidental contact would be permitted, no board-checking. Five of the Sharks who played that day were 12 years old.

In all, the roster — with players from East Hampton and Pierson High Schools, and from their middle schools, as well as the Springs School and Our Lady of the Hamptons — numbers 23, and ranges in age from 12 through 18.

One of the 18-year-olds, Henry Uihlein, scored the Sharks’ lone goal, capping a 3-on-1 break three and a half minutes into the second period that Ian Breitenbach and John Negroponte initiated. For that Uihlein was to receive a puck attesting to the feat.

The Sharks’ first-year goalie, Taky Dimopoulos, a 14-year-old who parried a number of 1-on-1 shots among his 35 saves, was to receive a commemorative puck also.

“This has been my dream ever since I was a kid growing up here, to have a team like this,” said Solomon, who was reared in Amagansett and Southampton and played at the University of Maine. “A number of these kids had never skated before last winter. . . . Taky stood on his head — he played like a veteran. Connetquot skates the year round. I feel like we made a huge step forward today as far as East End hockey goes.”

Besides the aforementioned, others on Lillie and Solomon’s squad are Robby and Brett Nicholson, Brooke Esposito, Grace Perello, Peter Mangiameli, Tucker Schiavoni, Conor Brady, Michael Sabin, Rorey Murphy, Derek Adamcewicz, Gabe Grenci, Drew Fischer, Stephan Field, Taylor Murphy, James Kim, Jonathan Realmuto, Eric Schoenster, Rob Padilla, and Jackson Rafferty.

“There’ll be more scrimmages,” said De Groot, “at Dix Hills, with the Beaver Dam club in Mill Neck, and with Greenport, which came here last year. . . .”

On Saturday, the club’s young figure skaters and their coach, Meghan Barnes, a recent graduate of Adrian College in Michigan, where she competed in synchronized skating and was a soloist, put on a “Nutcracker” ice show that had been put off for a week because of warm weather and rain.

“It’s been a challenging winter needless to say, our most challenging to date,” said De Groot. “One day, we had people skating and playing tennis on our grass courts.”