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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 12:32 AM ET

The fifth annual Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament was yet another success for all participants.

After three days full of games, Finland’s Ilves Islanders skated away with the gold and silver medals in a thrilling back and forth final. They showcased a group of talented young players with the ability and hockey sense of much older teams.

The Ilves Islanders took home the gold, and the silver. Watch retrospective video
Click here for photos from Day 1
Click here for photos from Day 2
Click here for photos from Day 3
Click here for photos from Day 4
Japan, which travelled the furthest to attend the tournament, showed their European friends and North American hosts that the under-represented hockey nation is growing a crop of young, smooth skaters. Japan played a hard team game that was competitive all the way to the end of their tournament.

The New York teams, two from Nassau, two from Suffolk and a Westchester squad had the incredible opportunity to skate on professional ice and receive the superstar treatment of their Islanders heroes. Fostering international good will and making friends from around the world was a bonus; kids this young may not even realize how special that part of the tournament was. 
And of course, everyone got to take a few days off school to play hockey. What could be better than that? 

“It was really fun,” Maxlee Lerow of Team Japan said. “It’s a really big experience. I’ve been playing with kids in Japan all the time and it’s really different to see other countries play with a different style.”

One of the highlights of the tournament was when 10-year-old Jere Turunen of Finland pulled off a play usually reserved for professional skills competitions. Turunen may not be a household name yet, but the Finnish youngster scored a breath-taking, lacrosse-style goal from behind the net that wound up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays for Jan. 21.

Turunen beat out John Tavares’ two goals that night for the number No. 9 spot, an unheard of feat for that age level.

Off the ice, the teams watched an Islanders practice and enjoyed by a private meet-and-greet with the players. Andrew Hartog of the Nassau Islanders even brought home a souvenir from the tournament - a signed stick from Kyle Okposo.

“I was on the rails and he walked by,” Hartog said excitedly. “I gave him a high-five and he stuck the stick out and I got it.”

New York City also had a starring role in the Lighthouse Tournament. For many of the international players, it was their first time seeing the bright lights of the Big Apple. They had the sports experience of a lifetime, including a tour of Citi Field, tickets to a New Jersey Nets game and a special visit to the Islanders-Hurricanes game on Saturday night.

“It’s a big city,” Henri Ekman of Finland said. “Everything is…big.”

The week started off with a skills competition for the international teams on Wednesday and wrapped up with a banquet for all teams on Sunday evening at the Marriott. There were a few special guests on hand at the banquet, including the man responsible for this yearly tournament, Islanders owner Charles Wang.

Sunday also was a chance for the players to say good-bye to one another before heading home for another year. Before it ended, the sharpies were brought out and they went around signing each others jerseys.

“I’ve made friends with a couple of the Finnish kids,” Nassau Lions Owen Brown said. “It’s cool.”
Islanders’ autographs may be worth a bit more, but you can’t put a price on making new friends at the rink. 

POSTED ON Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 6:27 PM ET
The Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament ended with some Finnish flare, as the Ilves Islanders I topped the Ilves Islanders II 5-4 in the final to capture the gold medal at Nassau Coliseum.

Valteri Koivonen of the senior Ilves (team I) scored the winner on a late breakaway in the third period. It was a thrilling conclusion to the all-Finland final that saw both teams trade leads.

Islanders General Manager Garth Snow attended the championship contest and presented the medals following the game. Both teams came together to skate a lap around the ice and wave the Finnish flag in front of their many family members and friends who flew across continents to watch them play this week.

The hot hands of the tournament struck again Saturday afternoon, although with less frequency than they had in the round robin. Marc Lahtinen and Taaui Palotic of the senior team each scored two goals and notched an assist. Lahtinen had nine goals and two assists in his last two games alone. Santeri Tahuanainen, Elias Nieminen and Jarkko Maki each had two points for the junior team and Jere Turunen also had a goal in the final game. 
POSTED ON Friday, 01.20.2012 / 10:14 PM ET
Another day on the Coliseum ice saw both Finland teams take commanding wins over two local teams. The Nassau Islanders eeked out a win in the final seconds of their game against Japan. 

Read on for complete game recaps.

Game 1: Finland I: 9 – Nassau Islanders: 1
With a shot to go to the championship game on the line, Finland’s Marc Lahtinen did all he could to get his team to the big game. Lahtinen resembled the Finnish Flash, scoring his teams first seven goals and assisting on the eighth. Justus Kunnusmaki scored Finland’s final two goals and added two assists. Harry Nicolas of Westbury tallied the Islanders lone goal.

Game 2: Westchester: 4 – Suffolk: 0
Goalie Mike Schur recorded a shutout for Westchester, the second goose egg of the tournament. Carmine Christiano carried the offense for Westchester, scoring two goals on Friday afternoon. Peter Orlowski and Nick Barbero rounded out the offense for the Mariners. Westchester improves to 1-2-0 while Suffolk drop to 0-3-0.

Game 3: Nassau Islanders: 5 – Japan: 4
Defenseman Max Evans broke a deadlock with 48.5 seconds remaining in the third period, as the Islanders beat Japan 5-4. Nassau battled back from a 3-1 deficit, winning in dramatic fashion. Hunter Rossi, Teddy Ingrassia and Evans scored three second period goals to spark the comeback, taking a 4-3 lead at the end of the middle frame. Nakamichi, Kobayashi, Yasuno and Ikeda scored for Japan, who fell to 1-1-1 and just shy of the championship game. Nassau finished the tournament 2-1-0.

Game 4: Finland II: 10 – Rinx: 1
Finland punched their ticket to the championship game, defeating the Rinx 10-1, going undefeated in round-robin play. Jere Turunen scored a hat trick including the breathtaking game-winner. Turunen balanced the puck on his blade behind the net and wrapped it around to the top corner, much like a lacrosse goal. Santeri Tahuanainen finished the game with four goals and three assists, giving him 17 points (8g/9a) in three games. John Forlenza scored the Rinx only goal, giving the Lake Grove native a hand in his teams last five goals.

Day 2 at Nassau Coliseum was full of smiles and tough hockey games. All the teams were in action for a full day of competition.
Check out the sights.

Click here to see the photos from Thursday's action (photos by Mike Stobe)

POSTED ON Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 5:34 PM ET

Day 2 of the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey tournament was rough for some of the local teams, as both teams from Finland and Japan brought big offensive games.

After the action on the ice, the teams from Finland and Japan took a tour of CitiField, home of the New York Mets.

Game 1: Finland II: 10 – Nassau Lions: 1
Finland followed up a dominant first game against Suffolk with a 10-1 win over the Nassau Lions. In a Finnish Flash, the European squad was up 4-0 and top forward Jere Toronen scored a hat trick and added three assists for six points. Toronen now has 14 points (9g/5a) in two games. Santeri Tahuanainen scored four points (2g/2a) giving him 10 points (4g/6a) in the tournament. Michael Saleme broke the shutout with a goal for the Lions.

Game 2: Japan: 18 – Westchester: 0
Japan’s offense was on display again, but this time, they secured the win with stingy defense as well. After letting Finland score seven goals Wednesday, the Japanese team recorded the first shutout of the tournament. Up front, Nakamichi lit the lamp with six goals, adding one assist, and Yasuno hit double-digits, scoring 10 points (4g/6a).

Game 3: Finland I: 15 – The Rinx: 1
After tying Japan in their tournament opener, Finland I responded by convincingly beating The Rinx. Valtien Koivuna scored two hat tricks and added two assists. Justus Kunnusmaki, who scored the tying goal against Japan, had a five-point game, scoring a hat trick of his own and also adding two assists. Peter Caputo scored the Rinx only goal. 

Game 4: Nassau Lions: 3 – Suffolk: 1
Daniel Gelabert flashed the leather on a late breakaway to preserve the win for the Nassau Lions. Jason Latin of Roslyn scored the game-winner in the second period, with the puck deflecting off of a Suffolk stick and into the net. Gelabert’s save kept the score at 2-1 before an empty-netter sealed the deal in the closest game of day two. Joseph Zirkel and Joseph Dunn rounded out Nassau’s offense while Billy MacQuarrie scored Suffolk’s lone goal. 

Game 5: The Rinx: 4 – Westchester: 1
John Forlenza had a hand in all four Rinx goals, netting a hat trick and adding an assist. Westchester’s Luke Matthison opened the scoring before Rinx answered back with four straight. Peter Caputo scored the Rinx third goal and Marc Rohrbacker had three assists. The Rinx finished the day 1-1 while Westchester dropped to 0-2. Both teams are back in action on Friday.   
POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 6:59 PM ET
An unusual scene was unfolding on Wednesday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. Two 11-year-old boys, one from Finland and another from Japan were teaching each other a new language…in English.

That can only mean one thing, the New York Islanders annual Lighthouse Tournament is under way.

The tournament brings teams from Europe and Asia to Long Island to compete against local teams for medals and international bragging rights on professional ice. The teams come from different countries, speak different languages, but have a shared passion -hockey.

“I’ve been playing with kids in Japan all the time and it’s really different to see other countries with a different style,” Max Lee, a Japanese left-winger said. “And at the hotel we’ve already been making Finnish friends.”

A skills competition kicked off the festivities on Wednesday, including a fastest team event, featuring five players per squad, a puck-relay competition, a timed breakaway event, and a 2-on-0 scoring competition.

“I was very impressed with some of the kid’s skill level,” Mike Lang, one of the head Iceworks instructors said. “I thought the kids had a really good time.” 

In the past, the skills competition has been the wrap-up event, but this year, it’s in the leadoff position, for the international teams.

“I think they [the kids] are just getting acclimated with being in a different country and it was good for them to get out and do the skills first,” Lang said. “It gets their legs under them, it gets them acclimated to playing at the Coliseum which can be a little intimidating. I think they are going to have a real good time this week.”

Henri Ekman of the Finland 1 team was taking everything in, from scoring a couple goals in the competition, to the arena, to being in New York for the first time.

“It’s a big city. Everything is big,” he said. “It [the Coliseum] was the best ice that I’ve ever been on.”

Day 1 Recap:
Game 1 – Finland 1 vs. Japan

Japan jumped out to an early lead, going up 4-1 on Finland after the first period. The resilient Finns battled back in the second period, resulting in a 5-4 Japan lead heading into the third period. Justus Kunnusmaki of Finland scored with 51 seconds remaining to complete the comeback and tie the game at 7.

Game 2 – Nassau Islanders vs. Nassau Lions
The Islanders won the battle of Nassau, 7-2, over the Lions in Wednesday’s afternoon action. Defenseman Max Evans of Oyster Bay scored a hat-trick for the Islanders and Harry Nicolas of Westbury had two goals and an assist.

Game 3 – Finland 2 vs. Suffolk
The second Finnish team and Suffolk hooked up for Wednesday’s late game. Finland had the most dominant performance of the day, winning 14-1. Jere Turunen scored six goals and added two assists for an eight-point afternoon. Banteri Tahranainen had a hand in three of Turunen’s goals, finishing with two goals and four assists as well.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 4:01 PM ET
The New York Islanders 5th annual Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament begins Wednesday morning as teams from around the world descend upon Nassau Coliseum.

For the fifth consecutive year, participating teams have come from as far away as Finland and Japan to compete with teams from nearby Long Island and Westchester rinks in a skills competition and round robin tournament. Teams arrived in Uniondale Tuesday and start the friendly exhibitions Wednesday with a version of the NHL All-Star SuperSkills contest for the international players before the puck drops on games.

The eight teams in this year’s international tournament battle each for three long days on the Coliseum ice in hopes of reaching the championship match on Saturday afternoon. Immediately following that championship contest, the Islanders will hold a medal ceremony at center ice to honor the winners and their hockey brethren. All of the youth players will also attend Saturday night’s Islanders-Hurricanes game and participate in special on-ice presentations.

Click here for the complete schedule.




J. Tavares 78 33 37 6 70
K. Okposo 79 22 42 -4 64
F. Nielsen 81 20 32 1 52
B. Nelson 81 26 14 -3 40
N. Leddy 81 5 35 -9 40
A. Lee 80 15 21 -2 36
J. Bailey 81 12 20 -7 32
C. Cizikas 80 8 21 4 29
R. Strome 71 8 20 -9 28
M. Grabovski 58 9 16 3 25
T. Greiss 23 11 4 .925 2.36
J. Halak 18 13 4 .919 2.30
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