It seemed that the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and Premier level (EHLP) both witnessed changes in their power rankings during Week #5. The EHL’s Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) and New England Conference (NEC) experienced thrilling contests, which again proved how exceptional the league’s parity is.
Here is a recap of Week 5:
One of the EHL’s hottest teams during Week #5 was the MAC’s Connecticut RoughRiders. The RoughRiders not only posted a 4-1-0 record during the time frame, but also earned a spot in the league’s power rankings (5th) for the first time this season.
Let’s not forget that Connecticut recorded a four-game winning streak after the RoughRiders defeated New York Apple Core, Philadelphia Little Flyers, New Jersey 87’s and the Connecticut Chiefs. Yet, the most impressive performance was arguably the squad’s 4-3 shootout victory against New Jersey.
The victory marked the 87’s’ first loss on the season, and the recent streak for Connecticut jump-started the team into second place for the MAC. Goaltender Adam Faust started all four contests for the RoughRiders, and only allowed six total goals in the process. It wasn’t a coincidence that Faust’s best outing was also recorded vs. the 87’s, when he turned away 43 of 46 shots. The Southington, CT native earned the nod for Top Performing Goaltender and rightfully so.
Forwards Tyler Buonopane and Colin Bella continue to the light the lamp and both skaters lead the RoughRiders with 27 and 24 points on the year, respectively. The 5-foot-11 forward Bella netted five goals during Week #5, but the team’s impressive showing was spoiled thanks to New York Apple Core.
On Monday, New York and forward Michael Carducci defeated the red-hot RoughRiders by a 6-5 final. Apple Core also rallied back from a 5-0 deficit in impressive fashion. Connecticut tallied four first period goals, but surrendered three goals each during the last two frames.
Apple Core’s comeback victory marked their first win on the season, which also snapped a seven-game skid. Forward Matt Milone led the way with two goals, while Carducci recorded one tally and two helpers. Additionally, Carducci netted the game-winning goal with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, but more impressively – it was a shorthanded tally.
While the Connecticut Chiefs and Team Maryland were another pair of MAC teams in action, the two squads dropped their lone contests for the week. Unfortunately, Maryland bumped into an eager 87’s squad considering New Jersey was fresh of its first loss for 2020-21.
One of the league’s top-point getters in Kei Yasuda (7g-14a—21PTS) and the 87’s improved to 9-0-1 on the year, after the squad defeated Maryland by a score of 6-2. After a physical and competitive first period, the 87’s eventually ran away with the contest.
New Jersey responded with three second-period goals, in large thanks to Nick Swain, who found the back of the net twice. While the two squads exchanged goals during the third period, it wasn’t enough for Maryland to overcome the EHL’s top team in the 87’s. Additionally, New Jersey masked man Matt Sayles earned his second win on the year and turned away 37 of 39 shots.
The 87’s proved once again how deep they are down the middle of the ice and how well New Jersey can adjust to every opponent’s style of play.
(All photos by Dan Hickling/Hickling Images)
New England Conference
While the RoughRiders displayed their hot streak, the Boston Jr. Rangers proved again that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Boston posted a 4-0-0 record during Week #5 and outscored its opponents 23-5. Talk about impressive, no?
After defeating the Seahawks Hockey Club and the Worcester Jr. Railers, forward Nathan Young and company swept the Seacoast Spartans in convincing fashion.
The Jr. Rangers took down Seacoast by scores of 4-0 and 7-2 on Monday and Tuesday. Keep in mind the Spartans entered the two-game set earlier this week with a 5-2-1 record, before bumping into Boston goaltender Nathan Mueller – who set the tone with his first shutout on the year. Yet, on the offensive side of the puck, Young recorded five points overall against Seacoast while netting one goal and adding four helpers.
Boston’s Joey Schaefer wasn’t a stranger to the score sheet, either. The Bethesda, MA native replicated Young’s stat line with five points against the Spartans (1g-4a). Since dropping their opening contest for the 2020-21 campaign, the Boston Jr. Rangers have won seven consecutive contests and sit only behind the 87’s for the league’s best record.
Top forward of the week Zack Simon and his Walpole Express also turned heads around the league with a pair of victories. Walpole defeated a hungry Maine Eclipse squad, 6-5, on Friday and later earned its third win on the year after taking down the Connecticut Chiefs on Saturday night (5-4).
Entering Week #6, Walpole rides a three-game winning streak while recording five-or-more goals. The Express never scored more than three goals in a contest prior to the clutch winning streak.
Still, there was another NEC team riding the rails that earned success. the Railers Jr. Hockey Club not only collected their first win this season but grabbed four out of six points on the table for the week. The Railers stunned the East Coast Wizards with a 6-3 victory and later netted a plethora of goals en-route to a 9-5 win over Maine.
The win over East Coast witnessed the Jr. Railers with three multi-goal scorers – thanks to Brendan DeMarco, Matt Pimental and Ryan Davis – talk about a three-headed monster…
As for Pimental, the youngster now has five power-play points on the year (2g-3a), while John Baker leads the team with two goals and seven assists, overall.
Eastern Hockey League Premier
On Tuesday, the league announced its Top Performers of the Week in James Mattson (New Jersey Renegades), Dylan Stahl (Walpole Express) and goaltender Trevin Jensen-Rose (Valley Jr Warriors).
Mattson and the Renegades shutout the Philadelphia Little Flyers, 6-0, which also witnessed the youngster record a four-point night. The Randolph, NJ native recorded a hat trick against the City of Brotherly Love and is tied for first in the league with 16 points (9g-7a).
Let’s not forget that New Jersey goaltender Joey Jamison collected his second victory on the year in addition to consecutive shutouts.
Though, the Renegades weren’t the only team from the Garden State that earned success. As noted in Week #4’s Recap, the New Jersey 87’s and Connecticut Chiefs were bound for intriguing matchups – and did not disappoint.
The 87’s won two of three contests after defeating the Little Flyers and you guessed it – the Chiefs. The victories marked a season-high three-game winning streak for the 87’s, prior to their loss on Sunday to Connecticut.
New Jersey skaters Brock Forrest and Ivan Borisov inked multi-goal efforts vs. Philadelphia, while forward Luke Satkowski netted the game-winning goal against the Chiefs with less than three-minutes remaining in the contest on Sunday.
Yet, the Chiefs fired back with a win of their own later in the afternoon to complete the EHLP’s memorable double header.
Connecticut masked man Donald Moorcroft led the way after backstopping the Chiefs to a 5-2 victory. Moorcroft recorded 34 saves, while turning away 15 of 16 shots during the contest’s final frame. Keep in mind that the performance between the pipes by Moorcroft, inspired his Chiefs teammates to net all five goals during the second half.
The Boston Jr. Rangers not only displayed success at the EHL level, but also in the Premier. Boston joined the Renegades as the only other team that recorded a shutout over the past week, after it blanked the Maine Eclipse by a 6-0 final.
Jr. Rangers’ netminder Logan Palmer earned his third win, and first shutout on the year, while helping first-place Boston improve to 4-1-2. The red, white and blue also received scoring help against Maine with six different goal-scorers – Jake Parker, Luke Flay, Tyler Wilson, Shawn Spring, Owen Daniels and Javen Heidergott.
Keep An Eye On…
In the EHL, Maine is set for two contests prior to the weekend, while the Protec Jr. Ducks resume action after a two-week hiatus. The 87’s host the Little Flyers which could make for a one-goal affair, considering the Little Flyers displayed success against a tough Maryland Squad in Week #4. Walpole is scheduled for two games – and as fans know – the Express are on the right track after a tough start.
Speaking of Philadelphia, the organization’s EHLP team is set for contests against both Garden State rivals in the 87’s and Renegades. The Chiefs, New England Wolves and New Hampshire Avalanche all resume action during Week #6, so it seems that EHLP has the busier schedule to close out October.
See you at the rink…
(Kyle McKenna covers the EHL for HNIB & can be followed on Twitter @KMcKenna_EHL)