For the third time in just over a month, the Eastern Hockey League and Premier Division will converge in Massachusetts as part of the league’s showcase series.
This time the event will take place in Haverhill, MA, home of the Valley Jr. Warriors, and 32 games will be played between the EHL and EHLP spanning Saturday through Monday.
Though before the puck drops on Saturday, it is worth taking another look around the league to see who the top teams are, and which teams will be looking to rebound after a tough stretch.
In terms of top teams, the conversation must start with the Boston Jr. Rangers, who are currently riding a nine-game winning streak. The defending EHL champs are led by their goaltending duo in Chris Jackson and Nathan Mueller as the team sits atop of the East Division with a 13-2-0 record. Their latest win came on Halloween with a 7-4 win over the Valley Jr. Warriors and a four point game (3g, 1a) from Willhem Nilsson.
Team Maryland continues to dominate the South Division, winning three of its four games since the Walpole showcase, including a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Little Flyers on Tuesday. Their only setback came against the Protec Jr. Ducks, a team who has won two of its last three including victories over Team Maryland and the New Jersey 87’s.
In the North Division, the Avalanche are enjoying a seven-point lead for first place after winning three of its last four games. They will come into Haverhill following a 5-2 victory over the Vermont Lumberjacks on Thursday, as goaltender Ronan Mobley stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced.
Right behind them are the Seacoast Spartans, and they will come into the showcase off a 5-4 win against the Walpole Express. Seacoast was down 3-1 in the second period but answered back with four straight goals for the victory.
Last but certainly not least is the Central Division. The Railers are still first in the division and have won two straight with a 5-4 victory over the New Hampshire Avalanche and 6-4 win against the East Coast Wizards. What makes the division interesting is that both Connecticut teams seem to be turning a corner after a rough start to both of their seasons.
The Chiefs have won three straight, with a 4-3 win against the Seahawks Hockey Club and 5-4 victories against the Valley Jr. Warriors and Walpole Express. Meanwhile the RoughRiders have won five of their last seven games and are riding a four-game point streak. Their most recent win was a 6-3 decision over New York Apple Core.
For the Premier Division, the East is still the division to beat. The Railers have an impressive 9-1-0 record to start the season and have only given up seven goals in those 10 games. Despite that, the Seahawks are first with a 10-4-1 record and have won their last two games.
In third are the Boston Jr. Rangers, a team who has won three of its last four including a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Little Flyers.
Three of the four EHLP teams in the North Division will enter the showcase coming off a win. The Valley Jr. Warriors sit first in the division and have most recently beat the Little Flyers by a 2-1 score. New Hampshire is right behind them having won two straight, including a 4-2 win against the Vermont Lumberjacks and a two-point game for Aaron Racino.
The Chiefs will enter Haverhill on a high note after defeating the Walpole Express 4-1. Michael Ceneri picked up two goals plus an assist, and currently leads the team with 14 points (10g, 4a) through 12 games. They are second in the South Division but have pulled to within five points of the New Jersey 87’s.
With the third showcase starting Saturday, here are some matchups to keep an eye on.
-Walpole Express vs. Team Maryland – 4:00 p.m.: Walpole started the season by winning six of its first seven games, but are now in a seven-game slump. It’ll be a tall task going up against the South Division leaders in Maryland, but their last three games were decided by one goal, so expect Walpole to come out swinging on day one of the showcase.
-(EHLP) Valley Jr. Warriors vs. Boston Jr. Rangers – 10:00 a.m.: The Warriors EHLP team sits first in the North Division and will face a Jr. Rangers team riding a two-game winning streak. These two went up against each other back in September, and the Warriors won that game by a score of 6-2.
-Railers vs. Valley Jr. Warriors – 10:15 a.m.: The Warriors have dropped six straight, but three of their last four games went beyond regulation. A showcase win on home ice against the top team in the Central could start a nice bounce back for the Warriors.
-Philadelphia Little Flyers vs. East Coast Wizards – 4:15 p.m.: Don’t be fooled by the Little Flyers spot in the standings, they’ve won five of their last seven games and have played the fewest games of any team in the South. Meanwhile the Wizards’ offense has been heating up. After not scoring more than three goals in their first seven games of the season, they’ve scored at least four goals in six of their last eight contests.
-(EHLP) New Jersey 87’s vs. Railers – 10:00 a.m.: The rematch of the 2021 Frozen Finals. As mentioned before, the Railers are dominating the EHLP with a 9-1-0 record. New Jersey has struggled a bit, dropping four of their last five games, but have shown to compete in showcases. They went 2-0-1 in the last showcase in Walpole and will look for a similar showing in Haverhill.
-Connecticut Chiefs vs. Seacoast Spartans – 1:15 p.m.: As both Connecticut teams are surging, the Chiefs and their three-game win streak will be put to the test against a Spartans team that is second in the North Division. A key player to watch is Chiefs forward Jack Devine, who has eight points (1g, 7a) in his last four games.
-Railers vs. Boston Jr. Rangers – 3:00 p.m.: The Jr. Rangers and Railers are ranked one and two in the EHL Power Rankings respectively. If Boston wants to extend their winning streak to 10 games, they’ll have to do it against a squad that hasn’t lost to them in regulation yet. The Railers are 1-0-1 against the Jr. Rangers so far this season.