Eastern Hockey League – EHL Frozen Finals: Balanced Effort Keys Railers’ 5-1 Win; Series Even At 1-1

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 Railers Jr. Hockey Club forces a Game 3 in the EHL semifinals with a commanding 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Little Flyers.

Everyone contributed offensively for the Railers as five different skaters scored a goal and eight players recorded at least a point in the win.

For head coach Sean Bertoni, it was a relief for his team to finally solve a hot goaltender in Ronnie Petrucci, who had made 41 saves the day before in Game 1.

Little Flyers forward Trevor Kruczek fires a shot out of the reach of the Railers’ Marcus Chrisafedeis. Worcester evened up the best of three series with a 5-1 win.

“He’s been playing tremendous, he really is. Watching some video on him, he had a great series against the New Jersey 87’s, but playoff hockey is about getting pucks and bodies to the net,” Bertoni said. “Look at Matt Schirm’s goal, I think it went off somebody.”

Austin Jerzak wasted no time as he opened the scoring 2:22 into the first period, streaking down the right wing and firing a shot low blocker side for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Philadelphia responded midway through the first as Jack Costabile tied the game with a wrister from the point. Cristo Walker slid it to the point where the league MVP fired a shot upstairs for his second goal of the playoffs.

Connor McAleer put the Railers ahead 2-1 early in the second period. He wrapped around the net and snuck in a sharp-angle shot between the post and Petrucci for his fourth goal of the postseason. His go-ahead goal also stood as the game-winner.

“Something we always work on in practice is that if you don’t have any options, take the puck below the goal line,” McAleer said of his goal. “That’s what I saw, emphasizing puck possession and good things happen when you get pucks on net, especially when the other team’s goaltender has been hot recently.”

When the Railers went on the power play midway through the second, Thor Hansen took a shot from the point and the rebound went right to Declan Chapman at the doorstep, where he buried the loose change and gave the Railers a 3-1 lead.

Corbin Melie tacked on one more goal in the second period to make it 4-1. Daniel Prazma threw a puck towards the slot and it came right to Melie, who snapped a one-timer blocker side for his third goal of the playoffs. Overall, the Railers outshot Little Flyers 15-6 in the middle period and set the tone for the rest of the game.

Matthew Schirm capped off the scoring as collected a pass at the point and fired a slapshot top shelf, getting his second goal of the playoffs.

Bertoni spoke about his defensemen’s involvement offensively, noting that it’s a part of the game the Little Flyers do well.

“The Flyers do a heck of a job getting to the front of the net, and they really use their points offensively and we want to play that way too. In playoff hockey, the goals are scored in the dirty area and I thought we did a really good job getting pucks and bodies there.”

The deciding Game 3 will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. Bertoni spoke about his team’s mentality and what it means to play in a win-or-go-home game.

“The approach is the same. This is our ‘03’s and our captains’ team. When their backs are against the wall, I think they almost enjoy that, which can be frustrating at times,” Bertoni said. “I want that same approach every game as most coaches probably do. But after the first period I think our mentality was completely positive and our belief within one another was tremendous.”

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