Friday action in the EHLP featured a pair of entertaining contests, as the Boston Jr. Rangers beat the Vermont Lumberjacks by the score of 3-1, and the New Hampshire Avalanche held on to knock off the Philadelphia Little Flyers by a 3-2 margin.
BOSTON JR. RANGERS 3 – VERMONT LUMBERJACKS 1
The Boston Junior Rangers improved to 2-0 in round robin play as they earned a 3-1 win over the Vermont Lumberjacks (1-1) during day two of the EHLP Finals.
The Rangers received goals from Brandon Burroughs, Anthony Viola and Koebe Buske to go along with 26 saves from Mitch Taylor who stood tall yet again for Boston after turning aside 40-43 last night against the Avalanche.
“They love playing in front of that kid,” said Boston head coach Michael Grace.
After yesterday’s 5-3 win over the Avalanche, Grace had highlighted his goaltenders’ battle factor and that battle was on display again. The Rangers got off to a sleepy start through ten minutes, and despite conceding the game’s first goal to Arhip Sidarovich, thanks to Taylor, they weathered the storm.
Speaking of Sidarovich, the Belarusian forward scored his 6th goal of the playoffs and is one of three active forwards in the Frozen Finals jockeying for most goals in a single EHLP postseason. Sidarovich (6) along with teammate Bobby Voss (7) and Rangers’ forward Max Morris (8) are all within striking distance of each other. Morris picked up two assists in the game following a hat-trick against the Avs, his 12 playoff points are right behind Lumberjacks’ forward Trent King who has 13 throughout the playoffs. King’s 13 points establishes a new record for the EHLP in terms of points in the playoffs, but with Morris on his heels, we’ll see how long King keeps that.
Burroughs would tie the game in the 1st period. Burroughs wheeled a shot from out far that found a hole through Lumberjacks’ goaltender Joshua Kotai, after that the game gradually shifted towards Boston. In period two the Rangers would use two quick goals to help break the tie and expand their lead. Viola scored, followed 34 seconds later by Buske.
Both goaltenders were tested throughout the game. Kotai took the loss despite turning aside 32 shots. He gave his team every chance to rally making 15 saves in the third period. Mitch Taylor picked up the win, his 6th of the post season, stopping 26 of 27 Lumberjack shots. For Taylor, that win sets a new EHLP record for wins in a single postseason.
NEW HAMPSHIRE AVALANCHE 3 – PHILADELPHIA LITTLE FLYERS 2
Meanwhile, the Avalanche (1-1) got back to their winning ways against the Little Flyers (0-2) in the second leg of the doubleheader by a 3-2 score. The Avalanche received goals from Dante Massaro, Ryder Kunin and Jack Hudren, with Hudren’s standing as the game winner. The Avalanche also turned to netminder Jared Packman, and he didn’t disappoint turning aside 29 of 31 shots.
“He was a big reason why we won, he’s a big part of our team just like all of our players,” said Vinny Caligiuri after the game.
The Avalanche dictated the opening period and were rewarded for their persistence out in front of the Flyers net. A scramble ensued in the crease of Liam Kelly, who couldn’t cover the puck which led to Massaro firing it home for the 1-0 lead.
The Avalanche would use a pair of second period goals from Kunin and Hudren to stake out 2-0 and 3-1 leads. Kunin’s goal came off an odd-man rush where he was looking shot all the way as he ripped it glove side on Kelly. The Flyers knew they’d need to get the next goal and they knew it would have to be a dirty one. Johnny Zebley took the shot, Packman kicked it out, but right to Steven Griffin who was able to put the rebound in to cut the lead in half.
Hudren’s goal was a hard working one as well. The Avalanche worked it out high along the blue line, and with Hudren working the net front, were able to get a redirected shot off the bar and in past Kelly to re-establish the two-goal cushion. The Avalanche took a 3-1 lead and 27-18 shots advantage through two periods into the room.
The 3rd period saw the Flyers make their biggest push; it was also Packman’s best period.
“We were throwing everything we could at him,” said Flyers head coach Mark Catron, who was pleased with his team’s effort and compete level in the third.
The Flyers would make things interesting as Zelby picked up his second point of the game as his shot deflected off an Avalanche defender and in through Packman’s five hole with exactly one minute left in the game.
With Kelly out of the goal the Flyers pressed in the final 60 seconds, but would just fall short. Ultimately, Packman would stop 12 of 13 third period shots and 29 in total to secure his second playoff win.
At the other end Kelly took the loss for the Flyers despite a strong effort, as he stopped 31 shots.
** Story by Tyler Aragao