Eastern Hockey League – EHLP Frozen Finals: Chinappi, Jr. Rangers Snuff Out NJ 87s, 3-1, in Game One

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A busy day two wrapped up with an EHLP showdown between the second-seeded New Jersey 87’s and the fourth-seeded Boston Junior Rangers. It was Luciano Chinappi for the Rangers and Frankie Smith in between the pipes for the 87’s.

The Jr Rangers took a leg up in this best-of-three semifinal series, taking a 3-1 win.

A first period that was full of penalties found the first infraction called 6:05 into the stanza, and the 87’s would go to the first power play of the day. Chinappi stood tall between the pipes and kept the game scoreless eight minutes in. The Rangers would get a powerplay right back and Harrison Flaacke would score his first of the post-season on a tap in at the top of the crease.

Right after the goal the Rangers would go back to the kill and once again take care of business with a couple of good saves from Chinappi. The parade to the penalty box continued after EHLP Forward of the Year PJ Sweeney was pulled down from behind trying to work behind the defense. The 87’s would kill this one off without giving up a high danger chance. The 87’s pushed at the end of the first to equalize but couldn’t pot one home. The first period would end with the Rangers leading 1-0. Chinappi stopped all 15 shots he saw and Smith stopped 8 of 9.

87s defenseman Ryan Fanelli looks to skate away from Jr. Rangers forward Caleb Amidon in this semifinal matchup won by the Jr. Rangers 3-1. Boston takes a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series

The second period started off with a few good chances from the Rangers, and PJ Sweeney would make an incredible back door pass to Max Wretsell who made no mistake scoring his seventh goal of the postseason to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

The 87’s were up to 20 shots on goal with 11:10 to go in the middle frame, but could not solve Chinappi. Logan Berhje and the top line created some chances in the middle frame, but much like the first Chinappi did not budge. He made 10 stops in the second period for a grand total of 26 saves after two periods of play.

New Jersey opened up the third with a grade “A” chance to score from Nik Shoats, and the early pressure earned them a power play. Matthew Pullen had to sit for a high stick.  After a successful kill from the Rangers, they would earn themselves a power play on a Sobolev hooking minor.

Carter Amidon would find some space for himself, but only found iron with his shot from a high danger area. A minute after the kill Ayden Georgiano had a good look from the side of the net, but again Chinappi was there.

The 87’s would get another look on the power play with just over five minutes to play on a Wretsell hold. Just as the penalty expired Sobolev got a great feed cross ice from Dylan Cornatzer and buried one to cut the Rangers’ lead to 2-1.

Smith headed to the bench with just over a minute to go, but the 87s could not get the equalizer. PJ Sweeney picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in to ice the game for the Rangers with an empty-net tally.

New Jersey’s head coach Adam Houli liked his team’s game tonight.

“I thought we played good enough to get a W,” he said.

Running in to hot goalies this post season has been a theme for the 87’s. Houli had high praise for Chinappi, “He was strong tonight.”

Rangers head coach Danny Ferri spoke highly of his special teams unit .

“Our PK was great, we were wearing shots,” he said.

EHLP Forward of the Year PJ Sweeney who had a goal and an assist, added, “it’s amazing to be here. We have to play our game, play a full sixty and keep getting better. “

The 87’s will meet the top seed Railers tomorrow at 5:00 PM and the Rangers will meet the three seed New England Wolves at 8:00 PM. After one day of Round Robin play:

** Story by Mikey Basile

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