Eastern Hockey League – Mini Showcase Reviews: Big-Time Performances Aplenty In Weekend Action

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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New Jersey and New Hampshire hosted a combined 18 games for the second leg of the EHL showcase series over the weekend.

While these were labeled as ‘mini’ showcases, there were some big-time performances in Sewell and Hooksett. A handful of teams went 2-0 while some others also had a strong showing. Here is a rundown of some of the top teams and storylines from the two mini showcases.

Wolves leading the pack

Heath Mensch
NE Wolves

The New England Wolves came out of New Hampshire with the best record in the EHL (8-1-1) and a three-point lead in the North Division. On Sunday they managed to take down the Boston Jr. Rangers with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory. Coming into the second half trailing 2-1, Matyas Budina scored his second goal of the game while Heath Mensch gave New England the lead 26 seconds later.

Following up their win against the 2021 champs, the Wolves defeated the Seahawks Hockey Club by a score of 3-1, getting goals from Sander Cramer, Samuel Westerberg and Mensch. New England has now won six of its last seven games and remains one of the hottest teams in the league.

Express go full steam ahead

It’s a tight race in the East Division, and the Express Hockey Club sits in first place following their 2-0 weekend.

Addam Brunner
Express HC

The team’s offense broke through with five goals in each game, earning a 5-2 win over the Railers and a 5-1 victory over the Valley Jr. Warriors. Addam Brunner scored three goals over the weekend, with two of them coming from Sunday’s win over the Railers. Jack Boschert picked up the win on Sunday, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Brady Klemmensen also finished the weekend with three points, including two goals against the Warriors.

Lumberjacks with an axe to grind

Vermont may be third in the North Division, but they are also tied with the Seahawks for fewest games played. They have also made the most of those games by winning two in New Hampshire.

Victor Daigneault
Vermont Lumberjacks

Things were off to a slow start for the Lumberjacks on Sunday when the Warriors jumped to a 3-2 lead in the first half. Vermont responded by scoring three goals in the final half, including two from Victor Daigneault for a 5-3 victory. The veteran forward scored two more goals on Monday as the Lumberjacks prevailed in a 5-4 battle against the Seacoast Spartans. Louis-Joseph Guernon picked up four points (1g, 3a) over the weekend while Jackson Collins had five assists.

It’s Duck season!

Meanwhile in New Jersey, the Protec Jr. Ducks had the best showing of any South Division team by going 2-0 and are now first in the South Division.

Jacob Gates
Protec Ducks

Kicking off the mini showcase on Friday, the Jr. Ducks faced the Philadelphia Little Flyers and won by a score of 4-2. Jacob Gates had a pair of goals, including the game-winning goal where he toe-dragged around a defender off the faceoff and ripped a shot upstairs. Gates would also score the game-winning goal in Protec’s 3-0 win over Team Maryland on Saturday. Goaltender Alexis Giroux won both games for the Ducks and earned a 32-save shutout against Maryland.

Chiefs widening the gap

The Connecticut Chiefs turned some heads in the Worcester showcase with their hot start, and now their performance in Hooksett showed it could be much more than that.

Connecticut went up against the hosting New Hampshire Avalanche on Sunday and came out on top with a 2-0 win. Adam Yost made 28 saves for the shutout while Ethan Lim and Luke Holyfield scored the Chiefs’ goals. 

On Monday the Chiefs faced another strong team in the Boston Jr. Rangers, and overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to force the game into overtime. Boston took the extra point with an overtime goal from Will Halecki, but the Chiefs have won four of its last five games and are on a seven-game point streak. With a 7-1-2 record, the Chiefs have an eight-point lead in the Central Division and are the only team with a positive goal differential. 

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