In the Eastern Hockey League, all roads lead to Providence. This Wednesday, the Frozen Finals will kick off on the campus of Providence College at Schneider Arena as six teams battle for the EHL championship.
The six teams will be divided into two groups of three: Pool A and Pool B. The first pool includes the New Hampshire Avalanche, the Walpole Express and New England Wolves. Pool B has the Philadelphia Little Flyers, Railers Jr. Hockey Club and New Jersey 87’s.
Each team will play two round-robin games, and the top two teams from each pool will advance on to the semifinals. The winner of each semifinal game will then play against each other in the championship game.
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.
New Hampshire Avalanche
- Regular season record: 32-9-5
- How they got here: It’s not often a team can try to avenge a first-round upset and a loss in the championship game from the same postseason, but this is the case for the New Hampshire Avalanche. Just like the 2021 postseason, the Avs took on the Seacoast Spartans in the first round but flipped the script by sweeping them 2-0, including a 6-5 overtime win in Game 2. In the second round, they got past the surging New England Wolves in a two-game sweep, winning by scores of 3-1 and 4-3. Most of the big names have produced for New Hampshire, including Aden Hotchkiss’ team-leading 10 points (2g, 8a). The big surprise, however, is their goals leader in Kyle Dann. The ‘02 born forward scored four goals in 26 regular season games, but he took it to another level in the playoffs by scoring six goals and seven points in four games, including the overtime winner in Game 2 against the Spartans. While the Avalanche will not have a rematch against the Boston Jr. Rangers this year, the North Division-winning Avs will be happy nonetheless to return to the championship game and try to take it one step further by taking home the title.
- Regular season record: 27-17-2
- How they got here: While the Walpole Express played one less game than the New England Wolves and Railers Jr. Hockey Club, they had one of the longer roads to Providence. They found themselves on the losing side of the longest EHL game in history, a 2-1 loss to the East Coast Wizards in triple overtime, and found themselves trailing 2-0 in a decisive Game 3. But the Red Train broke through with five unanswered goals against the Wizards, and kept chugging along with a two-game sweep over the defending EHL champion Boston Jr. Rangers, including a 2-1 double overtime victory in Game 1. Jack Boschert is at the heart of this run by the Express, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.11 goals against average and a .968 save percentage. In those 2-1 and 3-1 victories over Boston, Boschert stopped 73 of the 75 shots he faced while going head-to-head with two-time EHL goaltender of the year Nathan Mueller. Asher Connolly leads the Express with seven points (2g, 5a) while Dalton Garcia and Justin Guelph lead the team with three goals each. By taking the East Division over the defending champs, the Express will ride into Providence with the belief that they can beat anybody and take home their first EHL championship.
Railers Jr. Hockey Club
- Regular season record: 28-15-3
- How they got here: The Railers are one of two teams in the Frozen Finals to play six games this postseason. Both of their series went the distance, earning a first-round win over New York Apple Core and a second-round victory over the Connecticut Chiefs. Although both rounds went down to the wire, the Railers have shown to be a dominant postseason team. They lead the league with a plus-17 goal differential, mainly because there is no shortage of offense on the Blue Train; four different players have at least four goals this postseason. Drew Olivieri leads the league with 13 points (4g, 9a) and Matt Pimental is the league leader with seven playoff goals. Stefan Kulhanek has been solid in goal with a .923 save percentage and a pair of shutouts to go along with his 4-2 record. As the Central Division winner, the Railers will put their surging offense to the test in a pool with two very talented teams from the South Division.
Philadelphia Little Flyers
- Regular season record: 30-12-4
- How they got here: The Philadelphia Little Flyers kept getting better as the 2021-22 regular season progressed, and roared into the postseason as a Frozen Finals favorite. Two series later and that is still the case. Philly managed to sweep Team Maryland by scores of 6-2 and 5-2, then proceeded to sweep the 87’s with 3-2 and 2-1 victories. Adam Beauvais leads the pack with six points (3g, 3a) and Tony Andrews leads the team with four goals. While the Little Flyers were the best offensive team this year, Joseph Henson has been putting up great numbers himself, sporting a .950 save percentage, a 1.75 goals against average and a perfect 4-0 record. Despite winning four regular season championships, the Little Flyers have yet to win a Frozen Finals title. Coming out of the juggernaut that is the South Division, perhaps they can finally buck the trend this year.
New Jersey 87’s
- Regular season record: 30-12-4
- How they got here: The 87’s came out of the gate flying with a two-game sweep over the Protec Jr. Ducks, winning their Games 1 and 2 by scores of 7-1 and 8-0 respectively. Round two was a different story, as the Little Flyers flipped the script from the 2021 South Division final and swept the 87’s. Both games were one-goal contests and down to the wire, so an undeterred 87’s squad defeated the Connecticut Chiefs in the South vs. Central wildcard game. Kyle Folkerson scored late in the game to even the score, and later netted the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory. He is tied with Devlin O’Kane for the team lead in goals with four, and Matt Zdanowicz leads New Jersey with 12 points (3g, 9a). Owen Hains has a 3-1 record in goal along with a 1.23 goals against average and .938 save percentage. Heading into the Frozen Finals, the 87’s and Railers are the only two teams to score more than 20 goals, and the 87’s have the second-best goal differential at plus-13. While New Jersey fell just short of retaking the South Division, they are not an underdog team by any means, and will look to take advantage of their second straight Frozen Finals appearance.
New England Wolves
- Regular season record: 23-19-4
- How they got here: On one hand, the New England Wolves and their midseason turnaround could be this year’s underdog story in the EHL. However, their recent play suggests they are more than mere underdogs. Following a Game 1 loss to the Vermont Lumberjacks in the first round, the Wolves bounced back with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win in Game 2 and a 3-1 victory in the deciding Game 3. They were unable to punch a ticket to Providence through the North Division Final—losing in two games to the Avalanche—but proved the doubters wrong with a 2-1 overtime victory against the defending EHL champion Boston Jr. Rangers. Kevin Johnston, who leads the team with four goals, scored twice against the Rangers including the OT winner. Alex Laracy leads the team in points with seven (1g, 6a) and Edijs Grigorjevs is right behind Johnston with three goals. Liam Kilgallen may have a 3-3 record, but his .942 save percentage shows he is doing his part and then some in this run by New England. This is the first Frozen Finals appearance for the Wolves’ EHL team, and a championship here would be the perfect ending for the team’s storybook season.
For a complete schedule of the EHL Frozen Finals, you can check out the official Frozen Finals hub on the league website.