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Brick Wall Braglia



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Lucas Lucchi scored the eventual game winner as the 2nd seed Bellmore-Merrick Bulldogs defeated the 3rd seed Syosset Braves 4-0 to punch their ticket to the NYIHSHL 2023-2024 Championship Series. The Braves came into the matchup as the defending champions after sweeping the Bulldogs in last season’s finals. Joey Braglia made 23 saves in a shutout victory for the Bulldogs. Nick Summa made 17 stops for the Braves. 

After a tripping call that went against the Syosset Braves with 8:47 left in the opening frame, the Bellmore-Merrick Bulldogs went on the power play. Lucas Lucchi scored his first of the playoffs to put the Bulldogs on the board with 6:40 remaining in the 1st period. Lucchi dangled past the defender at the blue line, walked in and beat Summa blocker side. Later in the first frame, Jack Bahrenberg came in 1 on 0 with under three minutes remaining after the Braves forced a turnover in the Bulldogs zone. Joey Braglia came out of his crease to make a big save as Bahrenberg tried to go five-hole. Offsetting penalties were assessed to Braves co-captain Jake Gagliano and Bulldogs defenseman Vin Palagiano at the stoppage. Nick Drogan potted his first of the post-season to extend the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 with 2:22 remaining in the 1st period. Drogan cut right to left to carry the puck from his own zone into the Braves zone before using the defender as a screen to fire a perfectly placed shot between the glove and the pad of the netminder. The Bulldogs led 2-0 after the first fifteen minutes of regulation. 

A penalty that went against Bellmore-Merrick with 13:56 remaining in the second stanza put Syosset on the power play. Bellmore-Merrick captain, Noah Zinman did a great job of preventing zone entries and creating turnovers on the ensuing kill. The Bulldogs blue liner will continue to be a player to watch in the 2023-2024 NYIHSHL Championship Series. Sean Keene scored his second of the playoffs to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead with 9:57 remaining in the 2nd period. Lucas Lucchi won a battle beneath the Braves blue line before making a quick pass to Keene who went top shelf from the door step. A parade to the penalty box by the Braves late in the second frame led to a 5 on 3 advantage for the Bulldogs. Evan Lenz scored his first of the post-season on the power play with 1:59 left in the second stanza. Lenz walked in between the right wing hash marks and the dot to snipe blocker side high. The Bulldogs led 4-0 heading into the intermission.

Syosset’s Brady Lichtenstein and Bellmore-Merrick’s Vin Palagiano were assessed offsetting penalties at the start of the final frame. A high-sticking call that went against Bulldogs forward Nick Drogan gave the Braves a power play opportunity with 11:28 remaining in the 3rd period. The Bellmore-Merrick penalty kill did a great job of limiting Syosset’s chances on the power play. Jake Gagliano was sent to the box with 1:37 left in regulation. The Bulldogs would run out the clock to seal the deal. Following their 4-0 victory over Syosset, eleven Bellmore-Merrick skaters have now found the back of the net this post-season. Nico Buglione and Sean Keene are the lone Bulldogs skaters with two goals in as many playoff games.

Player (Team)StarStat LinePerformance Summary
Joey Braglia (Bulldogs)1stShutout, 23 Saves, WinBraglia made difficult saves look effortless in a shutout victory to secure a Championship Series birth
Lukas Lucchi (Bulldogs) 2ndGame Winning Goal, 1 AssistLucchi opened the scoring and picked up an assist in a strong two-way showing
Sean Keene (Bulldogs) 3rdGoalKeene was great in the face off dot and excelled in a shutdown role as before finding the back of the net
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