The calendar year of 2022 is ending with a bang as the Eastern Hockey League held its third showcase of the season in Newington, Connecticut.
Over the three-day stretch, numerous games went beyond regulation while others were won in the final minutes of regulation. Here’s a look at some of the top performing teams from the Newington Showcase.
The Nutmeg Sweep
Three teams won all three of their games in Connecticut: The Seacoast Spartans, the Boston Jr. Rangers and the Express Hockey Club.
In such a tightly-contested North Division, the Spartans helped their cause with the showcase sweep. They got things rolling on Tuesday with a 3-2 overtime victory against New York Apple Core, as Drew Olivieri scored the OT goal. The following day, they erased a 4-2 deficit against the Seahawks Hockey Club late in the second half, as William Pray and Carson James scored just 23 seconds apart. Carson Whitman would go on to score in the shootout to cap a 5-4 win. Finally on Thursday, the Spartans defeated the host Connecticut Chiefs 4-0, and goaltender Ben Skelton earned his first EHL shutout by making 22 saves.
The Boston Jr. Rangers maintained their top spot in the East Division while still having games in hand over the Seahawks. Their big matchup on Tuesday against the New Jersey 87’s ended with a 3-0 victory, as Connor Little and Cole Heintz scored goals 4:10 apart in the first half. The Rangers followed up that performance with a 5-1 win over the Chiefs, scoring all five goals in the second half. First-year EHL forward Michael Boschetto had a goal and two assists against the hosting team. Boston closed out their showcase run with a 3-1 win against New York Apple Core, and defenseman Ryan Moore netted his first EHL goal while adding an assist.
Two of the Express’ three wins in the showcase came in the shootout. The first day featured a 2-1 win over the Connecticut RoughRiders as Christian Howanitz and Keith Smilowitz both scored in the shootout. Their third win came against Team Maryland with a 3-2 victory, and Devin Garnett scored the lone shootout goal while Jack Boschert made 31 saves in net. In between their two shootout wins, the Express shut out New York Apple Core by a score of 2-0 as defenseman Adrian Jubran scored both goals.
An honorable mention goes out to the Railers Jr. Hockey Club. They only played two games in Connecticut, but won both of them with a 5-3 win over the New England Wolves and 4-2 victory against the Protec Jr. Ducks. With those two wins, the Railers are now 7-1 in showcase games this season.
The New Jersey 87’s bounced back from their loss against the Jr. Rangers with two victories, both involving late game-winners. On Wednesday, they had a back-and-forth affair with HC Rhode Island and Charles Lavoie scored the OT goal to cap a three-point performance (2g, 1a). The 87’s faced the Seahawks the following day, and Kyle Folkerson scored the game’s only goal with 42 seconds left in regulation for a 1-0 win. Kyle Spann earned his third shutout of the season.
HC Rhode Island picked up five out of six points in Newington, starting out with a 4-1 win over the Valley Jr. Warriors and a two-goal game from Alex Bauvais. Bouncing back from their loss against the 87’s, Rhode Island had their own late-game magic in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Little Flyers. Will O’Brien smashed home a rebound with 31 seconds left in the second half which stood as the game-winning goal.
The Valley Jr. Warriors took two out of three games in Newington, and managed to take down two North Division opponents in the process. On Wednesday, the Warriors took on the Vermont Lumberjacks and skated away with a 2-1 victory. Zach Stimeling scored both goals in the first half, including a shorthanded goal to put his team up by two. Samuel Boos made 22 saves on the 23 shots he faced, including a couple in the dying minutes of regulation to secure the win.
Closing out the showcase, the Warriors faced the best team in the EHL in the New Hampshire Avalanche. Coming into the second half down 1-0, Valley defenseman Dom Metro evened the score, and Cole Fagan scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Boos won his second straight start by making 38 saves on 39 shots.