Tier Two

Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District

Coach Eyes Playoffs with Team in New League

Coach Eyes Playoffs with Team in New League

Although they had a few recent losses, the Varsity Ice Hockey team’s strong start to the season has guaranteed them a spot in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will be a smooth sailing.

“We started the season really well,” said Head Coach Greg Antash. “We played in a tournament in White Plains and left with three wins and zero losses and a lot of confidence moving into our season.”

Another highlight for the team was a trip upstate to play against a team from Albany.

“For the first time in the history of our program, we went upstate during the holiday break,” Mr. Antash said. “We did not win, but we played really well. The students were fantastic; they were respectful on the bus and at the hotel, and everyone had a great time. I’m happy they enjoyed it. It was a great bonding experience, especially for a team made up of five different schools.

Head Coach Greg Antash

The team, which also consists of students in Valhalla, Hastings, Westlake and Pleasantville, has 25 students, 15 of which are seniors. There are three students from Briarcliff: seniors Leo Pushkin and Chris Chen and freshman Graysen Kmeta-Suarez.

“It’s great to have so many seniors on the team because they have a lot of experience and they’ve been together a long time,” Mr. Antash said.

Although the students are from different schools, many of them are friends and see each other outside of hockey.

“I hear them making plans to get together and it’s great because if we didn’t have a team made of different schools, they probably would never have met each other,” Mr. Antash said. “I have life-long friends because of hockey and sports.”

The team is currently preparing for the playoffs, with four practices per week.

“Twice a week we meet at Briarcliff High School to do some exercises and watch videos in the library to prepare mentally. The other two days we are on the ice,” Mr. Antash said.

Mr. Antash is very hopeful to make it to States and Finals later in the season.

“It is a work in progress,” he said. “They are not far away, but the mental game is a little tough for them right now because we moved up a league from last year.”

Mr. Antash hopes students can focus on defense.

“We’re not hard-pressed on the players with the wins and losses right now because we need them to play situational hockey,” he said. “As a defensive coach and a defensive player, I feel that it’s more important to play a system and sit back and make sure the other team doesn’t score. You can create a lot of offense just from your defense.”

Senior players

Although he looks forward to the playoffs, Mr. Antash is not looking forward to saying goodbye to the 15 seniors on the team.

“I am really going to miss all the seniors when they graduate,” he said. “I have been coaching the team for four years and this is my first run from grades 9 through 12, so I have known these kids since they were freshmen. Thinking about them leaving the team is bittersweet. It leaves something in you and I get choked up thinking about it. They’re good kids. I love what I do.”