The Eastern Hockey League (EHL) enters its final month of the 2020-21 regular season.
While there’s room for dramatics in the Junior “A” league moving forward, there’s also room for opportunity. Let’s celebrate “National Pizza Day” 2021, yes you read that correctly, for Keeping Up With Kyle.
After experiencing a two-game skid during Week#17, the Philadelphia Little Flyers answered their critics with a three-game winning streak. Not only did the orange and black earn headlines for Week #18, but Philadelphia advanced within one point of Team Maryland for second place in the South Division.
Head coach Mark Catron and company defeated the Connecticut RoughRiders (5-3) on Wednesday, and then later swept New York Apple Core on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 5-4 and 6-0. For starters, Philadelphia goaltender Jakub Kubik earned all three wins, in addition to recording his second shutout on the year.
While the Czech Republic native in Kubik shined between the pipes, so did Philadelphia’s Connor MacDonell and Ryan Clear on the offensive side of the puck. MacDonell, 19, recorded six points (3g-3a) during the three-game winning streak. The Milford, MI native enters Week #19 with 11 tallies and 12 assists in 20 games played for the Little Flyers.
On the backend, Philadelphia’s blueliner Clear proved that he produces when it matters most. The right-handed shot earned five points during the team’s recent win-streak, but also enters Week #19 riding a three-game goals-streak.
It’s fair to say depth is of the essence in the EHL…Philadelphia is back – keep your eyes peeled.
Yes, it’s almost a broken record by now, respectfully.
Yet, the New Jersey 87’s were another southern squad who earned three victories during Week #17. New Jersey recorded wins over the Protec Jr. Ducks on two occasions, while also taking down Apple Core by a score of 7-3.
The 3-2 victory against Protec might have been one of the league’s best games since the calendar flipped to 2021, but the 87’s again enter the new week with the top record in the EHL (28-1-2—55PTS), in addition to a 13-game winning streak.
Here’s a change of pace – let’s head north for the EHL after covering the south.
The Seacoast Spartans regained power-ranking status, after the Spartans defeated the New England Wolves (4-3) and Lumberjacks Hockey Club (6-5). At first glance, the pair of victories likely appeared as one-goal contests. Yet, the Spartans earned a pair of overtime victories and enter the new frame in second place (15-15-3—33PTS) for the north.
Seacoast’s Cooper Board (2g-1a), Conrad Szmyd (0g-3a) and Bjorn Schuepbach (0g-2a) led the way for the Spartans during the team’s victory over New England. The collective wins over the North Division rivals also improved the team’s record to 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Keep in mind that the Spartans bumped the Lumberjacks out of the league’s power rankings – circumstances are always heating up in the north.
Still, the Avalanche and Wolves also collected a pair of wins. The Wolves defeated New Hampshire on Saturday by a score of 4-1 and then took down the ‘Jacks, 5-4, on Sunday. Wolves’ forward Sergei Anisimov wasn’t a stranger to the scoresheet, after the Russian native netted two goals and added one assist, overall.
Yes, nine total goals seemed like an offensive force for the Wolves after their two wins, but New England’s play between the pipes also earned recognition. Wolves’ masked man Kyle Penton recorded 39 saves in the team’s win over the first-place Avalanche, and the “W” against the North Division foes marked Penton’s seventh victory on the year.
As for the Avalanche, head coach Chris Cerella’s squad swept the Lumberjacks by scores of 4-2 and 5-2. New Hampshire goaltenders George McMichael and Ronan Mobley both collected victories during the frame. It seemed that the Avs displayed how affective their depth scoring is, after witnessing five different goal-scorers in the 5-2 victory.
Avs’ skaters Artem Mateichenko, Henry Carlson, Matt Carlson, Carson Fotheringham and Connor Thomas all inked their names on the contest’s score-sheet. Keep in mind that Mateichenko leads the Avs with 37 points on the year (6g-31a). Additionally, the Avalanche enter Week #18 with 24-6-1 record and their 49 points lead the north by 16 (Seacoast).
Speaking of first place squads…
The Boston Jr. Rangers continue their quest and bid for the EHL’s regular-season title. At the time of writing, the 87’s own the league’s best record (28-1-2—58PTS), but Boston’s 55 points and counting follow in second, overall.
Jr. Rangers’ leading scorer Ryan Bailey (17g-25-42PTS) and company earned two victories over the last frame. Boston defeated the Jr. Railers Hockey Club (5-1) and then also shutout the Seahawks Hockey Club, 3-0. To no surprise, Bailey cashed in twice during the team’s win against the Railers, while Jack Karges and Markus Cook also recorded multi-point efforts (1g-1a).
Between the pipes, it was Nathan Mueller who earned both victories for the Jr. Rangers. The Rogers, MN native not only extended his personal winning-streak to 11 games, but also posted his fourth shutout for the 2020-21 campaign. Additionally, Mueller’s four shutouts leads the EHL.
However, the Railers and Western Mass Chiefs also collected points in the standings for the Central and faced-off with one another. The Jr. Railers earned the victory between the two foes, after they took down the Chiefs by a score of 3-1 on Friday.
Railers’ John Baker, Brendan DeMarco and Kolye Bankauskas all found the back of the net en-route to the win. Goaltender Stefan Kulhanek earned his 12th win on the year, after turning away 24 shots. The Austrian native has turned heads around the league lately in net, while helping the Railers climb up the standings since the calendar flipped to 2021.
Shifting over to the Chiefs, team captain Max Phillips and his squad recorded a 6-3 win over the Valley Jr. Warriors on Wednesday. Phillips recorded his eighth multi-point outing after netting one goal and chipping in one helper in the contest. Chiefs’ Declan Bronte also displayed a strong performance. No. 58 earned three helpers on the day, and the Australian native enters Week #18 with 16 points (4g-12a).
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the East Coast Wizards, either. The Wizards dished out a 7-3 victory against Valley on Saturday and in large thanks to Zachary Papapetros and Will Jennings. Papapetros, 20, hopped on the assist train as well after he collected four helpers. As for Jennings, No. 14 recorded his first hat trick for the season and owns five points (3g-2a) over his last two games, overall.
Eastern Hockey League Premier
At the EHLP level it was the Lumberjacks and Jr. Railers who shined.
The Lumberjacks collected two victories during the frame, which witnessed the ‘Jacks sweep the Wolves by scores of 5-1 and 4-0. The 4-0 contest witnessed a four-point (1g-3a) outing from Sawyer Wirsing, while goaltender Nick Digiacomo earned the shutout after recording 31 saves.
The Jr. Railers continue to show signs of improvement at both levels. The organization’s EHLP squad recorded three wins in Week #18, while taking down the Chiefs twice by identical scores of 3-1 and also shutout the Jr. Warriors 8-0. Entering Week #19, the Jr. Railers are led by skaters Cameron Koretsky (13g-13a—26PTS) and Conor Donovan (12g-12a).
Keep An Eye On
February marks the final month of the regular season – I know, it’s a bitter-sweet feeling for most involved in the EHL.
The Avalanche and Jr. Rangers are two first-place squads on the verge of clinching, which also means the Junior hockey community slowly but surely gets a better idea of what the opening round should entail for the postseason.
While I can’t stress enough how the EHL’s North Division is intriguing and heats up by each passing day – look for the South Division to earn headlines in Week #19. Yes, the 87’s were crowned Division champions, but look out for Philadelphia and, yes, the RoughRiders.
The RoughRiders faced a tough challenge after a hiatus and not experiencing any game action for almost two months. Respectfully, it was a tough comeback for Connecticut but the squad is shaking off the rust. More importantly, is the timing oddly…right for the RoughRiders?
Hear me out – they’re arguably more rested than most teams and the rebirth of their season in 2021 is also arguably a whole other and new season from their perspective. What if they catch fire during the last month of the season after the long wait and provide the EHL with a major upset? It’s been a long haul for some teams, but what about the ones that weren’t able to play games consistently and have the talent to create noise in a tournament-styled postseason…
As always, only time will tell.
See you at the rink…