Eastern Hockey League Frozen Finals: Jr. Rangers Edge Railers, 1-0, Force Game 3 On Friday

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 Boston Jr. Rangers keep their season alive as they shut out the Railers Jr. Hockey Club 1-0 in the Game 2 of their Eastern Hockey League best-of-three semifinal series.

Kaleb Miller, who played his first game of the postseason, scored the lone goal for Boston while goaltender David Filak made 26 saves, earning his eighth shutout of the season.

“I felt we played better today, little bit more pace, we got more pucks on net whereas yesterday we tried doing too much skill stuff,” said Jr. Rangers head coach Rich DeCaprio. “We had that penalty kill in the last minute, it was a bit more stressful, they have a really good power play and we were able to shut it down. It was a much better effort today.”

Kaleb Miller
Jr. Rangers

The game’s only goal came with 6:03 left in the first period when Tay Melis took a shot that was stopped by Railers’ goaltender Stefan Kulhanek, but Miller was in the low slot to corral the rebound and chip the puck over Kulhanek’s glove.

After Miller scored, he pointed his glove up to the sky for his mother, who passed away shortly before the start of the post-season. DeCaprio spoke about Miller’s return to the lineup and what it means for the team.

“He’s an awesome kid and we know what he was going through over the last few weeks. He missed the last two series, missed the last game of the regular season and we didn’t expect him to even come back. We were checking in on him every day, and after we beat the Express he called me and asked if he could come to Providence.”

He continued, “He wasn’t expecting to play but said he was ready to go if needed, and with (Bret) Beale out, I put Kaleb in because he’s a very good player, he’s super skilled and strong on pucks, and those are the things you just can’t make up.”

The Railers turned up the pressure in the third period, but Filak was up to the task and kept everything out of the net. At the start of the period, Dan Lemanski had a one-timer right from the top of the goal crease, but Filak cut down the angle to make the save.

With a minute to go in regulation, Boston took a tripping penalty and the Railers pulled Kulhanek for a 6-on-4 power play. Anthony Marchant and Connor McAleer had a few chances on net-front scrambles, but Filak and his defenseman blocked everything and held on for the 1-0 win.

Railers forward Matt Lombardi fires shot on goal during 1-0 win for the Jr. Rangers that evened the Best-of-Three semifinal series at a game apiece.

It was the second straight series where the Jr. Rangers found themselves down 1-0. Filak said that familiarity helped and was unphased heading into Game 2.

“I felt a lot better this morning when I woke up from yesterday, I thought I just controlled everything a little bit better. I also like playing from behind, I love being the underdog and proving everyone wrong,” Filak said.

He also commended his defenseman and penalty killers, as Boston killed off all three Railers’ power plays. “Everyone wanted to block a shot, everybody wanted to be a goalie and that’s what I love,” Filak said.

Like Game 1, Tay Melis had numerous chances in Game 2, including a backhander that went off Kulhanek and trickled off the post.

DeCaprio praised his game and said he will be a player to watch out for in Game 3, while also hinting a possible return for Boston’s leading playoff scorer, Bret Beale.

“He’s very consistent, he plays the same kind of game every night, he goes 100 miles per hour, he’s like an Energizer bunny,” DeCaprio said. “He’s going to score, he’s almost a point-per-game off his assists alone in the playoffs. He makes that line buzz, and I think we’re going to have Beale back tomorrow with Tay, and I think tomorrow will be the day for Tay.”

Game 3 will take place on Friday at Schneider Arena, and puck drop is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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