Eastern Hockey League: A Look At Top Performances From The Worcester Showcase

Anthony DiPaolo
Anthony DiPaolo
Anthony Di Paolo has been working in various levels of hockey over the last five years, ranging from juniors to the pros. Di Paolo spent four seasons as the Communications Director and play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League (2016-2020), and is entering his fifth season in a similar role with the New Jersey 87’s of the Eastern Hockey League. Graduating from Seton Hall University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, the New Jersey native covered Division I athletics for his school’s radio station, WSOU, and spent two years writing for the Fischler Report, a newsletter run by U.S. Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee Stan Fischler.

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The Eastern Hockey League showcase series took one giant leap with 62 games over the weekend, involving all 39 teams across the EHL and Premier Division.

It was the biggest showcase in league history with all 39 of the EHL and EHLP teams playing at the Worcester Ice Center and Boston Sports Institute. Here’s a breakdown highlighting the top performances from each division:

EHL Central

Connor McAleer
Railers JHC

Two teams in the Central Division finished the Showcase with a 3-0-0 record: the hosting Railers Jr. Hockey Club and New York Apple Core. The Railers defeated the Philadelphia Hockey Club and the New Jersey Bears by scores of 3-1, and defeated the Valley Jr. Warriors 2-1. Corbin Melie scored twice against PHC while Connor McAleer finished the weekend with two goals and an assist.

Apple Core won all three of their games by one goal; a 2-1 victory over the Boston Jr. Terriers and 3-2 wins against the Bridgewater Bandits and Seahawks Hockey Club. Anthony Vernillo drove the offense for New York, recording three goals and an assist. Goaltender Peter Dunckel won both of his starts, improving his record to 2-0-1 while upping his save percentage to .957.

The two Rhode Island teams each won a pair of games, as Providence Hockey Club took down Team Maryland by a score of 5-3, then finished their showcase with a 4-2 win over the Bridgewater Bandits. HC Rhode Island cruised to a 5-2 win over the Boston Jr. Terriers, then defeated Philadelphia Hockey Club with a pair of goals from Evan Hughes, including one shorthanded.

NY APPLE CORE GOALIE Peter Dunckel focuses on a puck battle at post in game against Bridgewater Bandits.

EHL North Division

The New Hampshire Avalanche took five out of six points at Worcester. They shut out the Connecticut RoughRiders 1-0 and closed out their showcase with a commanding 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Little Flyers. Goaltender Sam Boos won both games, stopping 40 of the 41 shots he faced.

NH AVALANCE NETMINDER Sam Boos turns aside a bid from RoughRiders’ forward Cooper Smith in the Avalanche’s 1-0 win.

After two rough losses to the New England Wolves, the Seacoast Spartans went 2-for-3 in the showcase and took down two of the hotter teams in the EHL. They opened things up on Thursday with a 6-5 overtime win over the East Coast Wizards as David Basin scored the OT goal. The next day, Seacoast defeated the Pennsylvania Huntsmen, 3-2, with a pair of goals from Jonathan Groth.

EHL East Division

Coming out of the Showcase, the East Division certainly appears to be the strongest in the league. The Boston Jr. Rangers and Express Hockey Club both went 3-0-0 in Worcester, as the Jr. Rangers defeated Team Maryland 6-3, beat the New Jersey 87’s 3-1 and closed out their showcase with an 8-1 victory over the Connecticut Chiefs. The Express shut out HC Rhode Island 2-0, defeated the Connecticut RoughRiders 6-2 and beat the Vermont Lumberjacks 6-3, and were led offensively by forward Daniel Belov as he finished the showcase with four goals and five points.

The East Coast Wizards, Boston Jr. Terriers and Seahawks Hockey Club each won a single game in Worcester, and the Wizards picked up three out of six points with an OT loss to the Spartans and a 4-0 win over Providence Hockey Club. The Seahawks and Terriers both won their games by a score of 3-2 in the shootout, defeating the New England Wolves and Philadelphia Little Flyers respectively.

EHL South Division

New Jersey Bears forward James Vermeesch battles AJ Lackas of the New England Wolves in Worcester Showcase tilt. Bears won this one by a 5-1 score.

It was a good weekend for the Garden State teams—the New Jersey Bears and 87’s—as they each won a pair of games. The Bears knocked down the Wolves by a score of 5-1, then followed up with a 3-2 overtime win over the Avalanche. Bears forward Matthew Fortin scored the OT winner against New Hampshire and finished the weekend with four points (2g, 2a). The 87’s opened up their showcase with a 3-2 win over the Connecticut Chiefs and finished with a 5-2 victory against the Seacoast Spartans, as defenseman Michail Kukareka recorded a goal and an assist in each of the 87’s wins.

The Pennsylvania Huntsmen, Philadelphia Little Flyers and Philadelphia Hockey Club each won a game. Philadelphia Hockey Club won a high-scoring affair over the Vermont Lumberjacks; Andrin Wider had a pair of goals and an assist in Philly’s 6-4 win. Nick Hussa had some late-game heroics for the Little Flyers’ 5-3 win over the red-hot Wizards, scoring the game-winning goal with under a minute left in regulation. On the final day of the Showcase, the Huntsmen defeated the Seahawks 2-1 to avoid the sweep.

EHLP Boston Division

Out of the three divisions in the EHLP, the Boston Division is by far the strongest in the early going. The Railers’ Premier team had the best weekend out of anyone in either league by going 4-0-0, defeating the New England Wolves 6-4, the 87’s by a score of 5-2, the Little Flyers 4-0 and the Avalanche 2-1. The final two games were both played on Sunday in a doubleheader, and Brooks Wright led the Railers’ offense all weekend with seven points (3g, 4a).

The Valley Jr. Warriors also went undefeated, beating the Connecticut Chiefs, Pennsylvania Huntsmen and Union Jr. Thunder. They finished the showcase with a +19 goal differential, and Andrew Duval leads the EHLP with 17 points (8g, 9a) through six games.

Right behind the Railers and Jr. Warriors are the Boston Jr. Rangers and Express Hockey Club. Boston went 3-0-1 with victories over the Adirondack Jr. Thunder, New Jersey Renegades and Vermont Lumberjacks. Meanwhile, the Express earned a pair of wins by shutting out the 87’s 2-0 and defeating the Adirondack Jr. Thunder 4-1.

EHLP New England Division

The New England Wolves had the most exciting win of any team in Worcester. Down 4-0 against the Philadelphia Little Flyers, the Wolves stormed back in the second half with two goals from Zach Spicuzza and Harrison Kramer, then won it 5-4 in the shootout. They closed out the Showcase with a 4-3 win over the Bandits to go 2-1 in Worcester.

While New Hampshire is still last in the division, they went 3-1-0 over the weekend with wins against the Union Jr. Thunder, Connecticut Chiefs and the 87’s. Brady Brown powered the New Hampshire offense with six points (3g, 3a) including two goals in their win over Union.

Coming Up:

Up next in the Showcase Series, there will be a pair of mini-showcases for the EHL in November. All of the North, East and Central teams will return to Worcester from Nov 7-9, and the South Division teams will play in Hollydell Ice Arena from Nov 14-15.

** All photos by James Melito

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