Entering Week #13 for the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) not only marks the most wonderful time of the year for all, but a busy frame for the New England Conference (NEC). Three teams in particular displayed success in the NEC, while one squad reminded the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) why they’re still the team to beat.
Happy Holidays…let’s recap Week #12 around the EHL for another edition of Keeping Up with Kyle.
New England Conference
The Valley Jr. Warriors enter Week #13 in rare company.
Valley is one of the few EHL teams that’s defeated both the New Hampshire Avalanche and Walpole Express this season. Yet, the Jr. Warriors sit in the basement for the NEC standings. However, defenseman Joe Biddle and company kicked off last week with a statement victory over Walpole.
The Jr. Warriors defeated the Express, 7-4, on Thursday, and in large thanks to depth scoring.
It was not a coincidence that Valley netted seven goals – considering 13 different skaters inked their names onto the contest’s scoresheet. Forward Jack Wren led the way with three helpers, while Will O’Brien (2g), Biddle (2a), Aeron Kummu (1g-1a) and Will Halecki all recorded multi-point efforts.
Keep in mind that Walpole entered the contest as a top-ranked squad and won nine of its last 10 games.
Yes, Valley stunned the Express, but it was the Boston Jr. Rangers that regained headlines for the frame. Head coach Rich DeCaprio’s squad not only swept the Jr. Warriors but earned an additional win against the Railers Jr. Hockey Club.
The EHL’s top-ranked squad kicked off the frame with consecutive 5-0 shutout victories over Valley and the Railers. The blank slates also marked the first time this season that the Jr. Rangers recorded back-to-back shutouts.
Boston skaters Jake Lachance and Ryan Bailey weren’t strangers to the score sheet, after they both recorded multi-goal games, respectively. Additionally, forward Andy Moore netted two goals and chipped in one helper for three points in the week.
Let’s not forget that Jr. Rangers goaltender Nathan Mueller earned both of the team’s shutouts between the pipes. The Rogers, MN native turned away 28 saves during the first outing and then 30 in the team’s second win on the week vs. the Railers. DeCaprio didn’t hesitate and utilized Mueller again on Monday when the Jr. Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit and took down Valley by a final score of 3-2.
After the impressive three-game showing, the Jr. Rangers enter the new frame with the EHL’s best record at 19-1-1 with 39 points for the standings. What’s interesting is that Boston is one point ahead of the MAC’s New Jersey 87’s for the best record in the league, but they trail Jersey by six in the goals for category (108-102). Perhaps those two teams are the ultimate matchup once the postseason arrives…
The New England Wolves inked a 2-0-0 record during the week, after the Wolves broke out the broom sticks and swept the Seacoast Spartans. New England’s 6-3 and 4-3 victories also extended the team’s winning streak vs. the Spartans to three games.
Head coach Tim Kunes’ squad witnessed Ricards Jelenskis record a four-point day (1g-3a) in the first contest, and the Latvia native later earned the game-winner in overtime during the second game which completed Wolves’ sweep. Additionally, forward Sergei Anisimov netted two goals and earned three assists over the two-game span.
Between the pipes for the Wolves, it was L.J. Newell and Kyle Penton who both earned wins. The Colorado Springs, CO native in Newell ranks fourth in the EHL with 383 total saves.
After the New Jersey 87’s suffered their first regulation loss for the 2020-21 campaign against Apple Core during Week #11, the Garden State bounced back and collected two wins during the frame.
The EHL’s leading scorer in Kei Yasuda (12g-26a-38PTS)) and company defeated Apple Core on Thursday by a 7-4 final. Speaking of Yasuda, the Japan native snapped a three-game goal skid when he opened the scoring for the contest.
Yet, the 87’s witnessed five other goal-scorers with Cal Couell, George Weiner, Jon Gabriel, Jason Santoriello and Michael Hertzberg. The victory also marked the team’s third victory against New York this season.
One day later, it was borderline Déjà vu in the outskirts of Philadelphia when the 87’s took down the Little Flyers, 4-1. Keep in mind that the Little Flyers were one of the EHL’s hottest squads entering the contest, but again it was the 87’s’ Yasuda who set the tone with the game’s first tally.
While Little Flyers defenseman Jake Frankenfield responded with a tally of his own less than two minutes into the second period, it seemed that the 87’s depth took over from that point on.
Matthew Bielinski fired back with two goals and Yasuda netted a power-play goal with less than one- minute remaining in the period. The win improved the 87’s to 18-1-2 on the year and witnessed the blue and gold’s sixth win vs. Philadelphia for 2020-21.
While the Little Flyers continued to struggle against their MAC rivals in New Jersey, Philadelphia collected a victory earlier in the EHL’s frame and against Team Maryland. In fact, after a 1-5-0 start to the season, the Little Flyers enter Week #13 in second place for the conference for the first time this season.
The Junior hockey community can wonder if the Little Flyers are knocking on the door for the fifth and final spot in the league power-rankings, no? The Flyers took down Maryland 4-1, after forward Mikey Giampapa netted two goals during the third period. The EHL’s 2018-19 Forward of the Year has four points (3g-1a) in three games since his dramatic return to Philadelphia.
Keep in mind that the Flyers’ Scott MeGraw also led the way with his three-point effot (1g-2a), plus MeCgraw assisted on both of Giampapa’s goals. In the blue paint for the City of Brotherly Love, it was Tyler Cassidy who collected his first win on the year. The 5-foot-10 netminder recorded 35 saves on the day, while recording 16 of those saves in the second period.
The Little Flyers are 7-3-0 in their last 10 outings, which arguably ranks them in the same conversation with ranked teams such as Walpole, New Hampshire, Boston and New Jersey – teams that have all won seven or more games in their last respective 10 games.
Eastern Hockey League Premier
The EHLP level witnessed two teams from the Boston, MA region who were not only busy but successful on the ice. It seemed that the Boston Jr. Rangers were also dominant in the EHLP, after the red, white and blue took down the Walpole Express by a score of 3-2 and then the Railers Jr. Hockey Club (2-1 & 8-3).
Boston is led by Anthony Viola (6g-15a) and Kyle Sinitris (7g-14a) who each have 21 points on the year. Between the pipes, Logan Palmer and Matt Morrison have combined for 14 wins while both seeing over 500:00 of game action.
While Walpole dropped its first contest for the EHLP’s frame to the Jr. Rangers, the Express got back on track with a victory of their own against Boston (3-2) and two wins over the Valley Jr. Warriors (4-1 & 8-3).
It was a much-needed fun and successful week for the Express, considering the team is now 8-8-3 (19 pts) on the year and sit in second place, but behind Boston (14-1-4-32 pts) for the North Division. Walpole’s three-game winning streak tied a season high and the team’s eight goals vs. Valley are the most the Express have recorded, to date.
The Express are led by Austin Sawyer who not only owns six power-play points (4g-2a), but 18 points (14g-4a) overall. Keep in mind that Walpole’s recent win against the Jr. Rangers snapped a five-game skid against its biggest rivals from the North.
Keep An Eye On
The Philadelphia Flyers aim to separate themselves in the MAC standings with a pair of contests against Team Maryland, while Maryland hopes to rebound after dropping seven of its last eight contests. Let’s not forget Maryland found itself in the power-rankings at one point this season.
Well, the NEC entails an intriguing schedule over Week #13.
Walpole is scheduled for four contests and the Express were highly debated about moving up in the power-rankings over the past two weeks. The Express enter the frame in third place (14-6-1-29 pts) for the NEC, but also has two games against a hungry Railers squad during the week.
At the EHLP level, the New Hampshire Avalanche, Railers and Express each entail multiple games while facing-off with one another. At the time of writing, three points separates the Railers (8-7-0-16 pts) and Express in the North Division standings.
See you at the rink…
(Kyle McKenna covers the EHL for HNIB and can be followed on Twitter @KMcKenna_EHL)