Eastern Hockey League – EHLP Frozen Finals Preview: Final Four Teams Start Round-Robin Play Thursday

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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At long last, the Frozen Finals are here, and on Thursday the four remaining teams in the EHL Premier Division will compete on the campus of Providence College at Schneider Arena in search of an EHLP title.

The four teams are the Vermont Lumberjacks, Boston Jr. Rangers, Philadelphia Little Flyers and New Hampshire Avalanche. Each team will play three round robin games, and the top two teams will square off in the championship game on Sunday.

Here’s a quick refresher of all the teams who made it to the EHL Frozen Finals and what their road to Providence looked like. 

Vermont Lumberjacks 

Francis Hamelin
Vermont Lumberjacks
  • Regular season record: 24-13-5 
  • How they got here: The Vermont Lumberjacks dominated their way to a North Division title, breezing past the Valley Jr. Warriors and New Hampshire Avalanche in a pair of two-game sweeps. They outscored the Warriors 16-2 between the two games and defeated the Avs by scores of 5-3 and 5-2 to advance to their second straight Frozen Finals appearance. Francis Hamelin and Trent King both lead the team with 10 points (3g, 7a) while Arhip Sidarovich and Robert Voss lead their squad with four goals each. Joshua Kotai picked up three of the Lumberjacks’ four wins and sports a .950 save percentage. While their regular-season performance did not seem as impressive as the Avs or Boston Jr. Rangers, the Lumberjacks have established themselves as a potential favorite to win this year’s Frozen Finals. They are also the only EHLP team to make the finals twice in a row, so perhaps their prior experience could help them go one step further and win a championship. 

Boston Jr. Rangers 

Max Morris
Jr. Rangers
  • Regular season record: 31-11-0 
  • How they got here: The Boston Jr. Rangers came out on top of a very stacked East Division, sweeping the Seahawks Hockey Club with 6-2 and 7-3 victories before knocking out the Railers Jr. Hockey Club with a 2-1 double overtime win in Game 1 and series-clinching 3-1 victory in Game 2. Max Morris leads the team with five goals and seven points, and the Jr. Rangers have also seen contributions from the likes of Chris Merryman, Koebe Buske and Anthony Viola. In net, Mitchell Taylor is 4-0 and is heading to Providence with a 1.54 goals against average and .954 save percentage. Considering the strength of the East Division and by merit of sweeping a powerhouse team in the Railers, it is fair to say the Jr. Rangers are currently the team to beat

Philadelphia Little Flyers 

  • Regular season record: 24-15-3 
Logan Downs
Little Flyers
  • How they got here:  Last year the Philadelphia Little Flyers were upset by the New Jersey Renegades in the South Division Final. This year they flipped the script by sweeping them in two games. In Game 1, Nicholas McKay scored the go-ahead goal with 1:07 left in regulation en route to a 3-2 victory. Philadelphia completed the sweep with a 4-3 victory in Game 2 and advanced to the South Division Final against the New Jersey 87’s. The series against the defending EHLP champions was hard-fought, but the Little Flyers pulled through with a 6-4 win in Game 1 and a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 2. In that overtime win, the team overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third period and Logan Downs’ overtime-winning goal completed a hat trick. Downs leads the team with five postseason goals and is tied with McKay for the team lead with eight points. Goaltenders Ronan Marley and Ronnie Petrucci have two wins each, and Marley leads the duo with a .922 save percentage. Considering the Little Flyers’ success against North and East Division teams in the showcases plus their surge in the playoffs, this team can be a dark horse for this year’s Frozen Finals.
Tyler Sitnikov
NH Avalanche

New Hampshire Avalanche  

  • Regular season record: 30-6-6 
  • How they got here: As this year’s regular-season champion, the New Hampshire Avalanche simply needed to win its first-round series against the New England Wolves to guarantee a spot in the Frozen Finals. They did just that with a 5-2 win in Game 1 and a 4-0 victory in Game 2 to sweep the Wolves. New Hampshire ran into some trouble against the Lumberjacks with 5-3 and 5-2 losses in Games 1 and 2, but they still reached the Frozen Finals via the at-large bid which went to the Division Finals loser with the best regular season record. Ryder Kunin and Tyler Sitnikov are tied for the team lead with five points each, and Sitknikov leads the pack with three goals. Jared Packman and Nick Maringola each have a 1-1 record in net, but Packman has a .930 save percentage plus a shutout. If the Avalanche can take a cue from its EHL counterpart last postseason, they can make the most of their at-large bid and make a run to the championship game. Considering the strength and depth of the Avs’ lineup this year, it’s not hard to imagine them doing just that.

For a complete schedule of the EHL Frozen Finals, you can check out the official Frozen Finals hub on the league website.   

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