Eastern Hockey League Frozen Finals: EHLP Round-Robin: Avalanche Blank Jr. Rangers. 2-0

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The New Hampshire Avalanche and Boston Jr. Rangers faced off to start Round 2 of the EHLP round-robin series

The New Hampshire Avalanche were looking to bounce back after falling 3-2 to the Railers last night. Boston had tied the New Jersey 87s 1-1. A win would go a long way for both teams in their second games.

New Hampshire came out buzzing and picked up an eventual 2-0 win.

Ryan Johnson celebrates his goal that gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead over the Jr. Rangers in first period action.

In the first period, 13 of the first 17 shots went the Avs way. Nicholas Mustchler was a rock in goal early for the Rangers, with his biggest save coming off a Zach Needham breakaway. It looked like the Avalanche struck first, on an Alex Penning chance, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference.

Eventually, Ryan Johnson would fire a shot home and give the Avalanche their 1-0 lead. Shortly after the goal, the Avalanche would go short-handed. The kill was successful and even produced a chance to score on a Jake Hines breakaway. The first would end with the Avs leading 1-0.

The second period started exactly the way the first ended, with the Avs pushing the pace. They drew an early power-play and were able to create some good chances. Mutschler stood tall keeping it a 1-0 game. More zone time for New Hampshire led to another power play that had to be killed off by Boston. Zach Pappas and company kept everything away from their goal en route to another successful kill.

Hunter Atkinson would find the back of the net at the 11:01 mark of the middle frame, making it a 2-0 lead for the Avalanche. That’s Atkinson’s eighth goal of the playoffs and team-leading 15th point. Boston was unable to create much offense and finished the first two periods with just 15 shots.

Boston refused to go down without a fight drawing a power play just minutes into the third period. They would go up two men, and get some good looks at goal, but could not solve Alex Gerard. The parade to the box would continue in the third, with the two teams taking matching minors. Four-on-four play did not see any goals, and time was running out on the Rangers.

As the third wore down the game got more and more physical. Each team knew how important a win was on this Friday afternoon. Mutschler would head to the bench with 2:25 to go in the third. The chances were there for the Rangers, but Alex Gerard stole the show stopping all 28 shots he saw. The Avalanche held on and improved to 1-1 in round-robin play.

Avalanche coach Dennis McCauley knew the importance of this game.

“We knew we couldn’t play on Sunday without a win today,” coach McCauley said.

Hunter Atkinson who scored the insurance goal added, “Magyar made a great play up the ice to find Needham… and then I was able to put it over (the goalie’s) pad.”

The Avalanche will meet the 87s at 2:00 PM Saturday. The Junior Rangers and Railers will meet at 11:00 AM.

** Story by Mike Basile

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