Just when the Junior Hockey community thought that last week’s action was exciting, Week #6 around the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and Premier level (EHLP) didn’t disappoint.
HNIB News recaps Week #6 for another edition of Keeping Up with Kyle.
New England Conference
There’s no doubting that the EHL’s New England Conference (NEC) was busy this past week, especially when the Boston Jr. Rangers and Walpole Express skated in multiple contests.
The Jr. Rangers kicked off the week with a victory over the Worcester Jr. Railers by a score of 5-3. Boston reminded everyone that it’s still arguably the team to beat after the red, white and blue improved to 8-0-0 overall in the month of October.
Head coach Rich DeCaprio’s squad witnessed five different skaters find the back of the net during the team’s victory against Worcester. Andy Moore, Thomas Liebold, Markus Cook, Connor Bizal and Joey Schaefer all inked their names in the “goal” column, which also jump started the team back into first place for the NEC.
Let’s not forget that Jr. Rangers’ netminder Nathan Mueller was awarded the EHL’s goaltender of the month. The Rogers, MN native not only helped the Jr. Rangers extend their league-best win-streak to eight games, but turned away 27 of 30 shots against Worcester. Entering Week #7, the Jr. Rangers have only allowed 19 goals in nine games played.
DeCaprio expressed his thoughts on the team’s recent success.
“It’s really been a matter of guys learning their roles here and accepting the team-first philosophy,” said DeCaprio. “I think we have some very good hockey players here that also have good hockey IQ.”
The Jr. Rangers are scheduled to face-off with a tough Seacoast Spartans team on Friday and then a hungry Maine Eclipse squad Tuesday, Nov. 10 for Week #7.
Walpole tracked itself back into the EHL’s Power Rankings after taking down Maine and the New England Wolves by identical scores of 5-2. The Express earned wins from both goaltenders, Mason Palmer and Eric Buchholz. Palmer recorded 19 saves against the Eclipse while the 19-year-old Buchholz turned away 27 shots vs. New England.
Express forward Ryland Dukes led the way against Maine after the youngster earned three points (1g-2a) in the contest. Additionally, Dukes is a point-per-game player. He owns 10 points (3g-7a) in nine games played this season. Dukes’ fellow forward in Josh Grund also recorded an impressive week. No. 13 for Walpole posted three points during Week #6 while netting two goals against Maine.
Keep in mind that the Express dropped their first five contests on the year but have responded with five consecutive wins and outscored opponents 26-13 in the process. Entering the month of November, it seems that Walpole is the league’s hottest team.
(EHL Photos by Dan Hickling/Hickling Images)
Heading south for the EHL, the league’s forward of the month in Tyler Buonopane and his Connecticut RoughRiders of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) were also busy for the week. While the RoughRiders dropped both their contests to the likes of the Connecticut Chiefs and New York Apple Core, Buonopane recorded five points (2g-3a).
The North Andover, MA native leads all EHL skaters with 32 points (13g-19a) and his league-best three shorthanded goals shouldn’t go overlooked, either.
Speaking of the Chiefs, team captain Max Phillips and company also entailed a full slate for the frame. Connecticut opened the week with a 4-0 victory over the Eclipse on Thursday, which also witnessed forward Jason Gordon recording a hat trick. No. 40’s seven goals for the 2020-21 campaign lead the Chiefs, but forward Matt Loftus’ 13 points (5g-8a) sit atop of the team’s scoring totals, overall.
For the record, Connecticut masked man Marshall McKallip earned his second win on the year and first shutout during the outing vs. Maine. However, the Chiefs dropped their next two contests vs. the NEC’s Seahawks Hockey Club and MAC’s Protec Jr. Ducks.
Protec captain Brayden Patricia and his Jr. Ducks resumed play after a two-week hiatus and proved once again that they are an offensive powerhouse. The Jr. Ducks earned their fourth win this season, after the Nest defeated the Chiefs by a score of 7-5 at Protec Ponds on Monday.
Patricia not only netted a hat trick, but also chipped in two helpers for a five-point effort. The second-year EHL skater ranks third in the league for scoring with his eight tallies and 16 assists in 10 games played. Still, it seemed that Protec found a constant between the pipes with youngster Tristan Fattedad.
The 18-year-old goaltender started his third consecutive contest while facing 30 or more shots en-route to his second win this season. Fattedad recorded 47 saves against Connecticut while displaying composure and timely saves vs. the MAC rivals.
Jr. Ducks head coach Terry Watt also confirmed the youngster’s clutch performance in net.
“A big reason why we won today was because of Fattedad,” said Watt. “He made the saves when we needed them most and he gave us the best chance to win.”
There was one other MAC club that was busy finding the back of the net during Week #6. After New York Apple Core started the campaign 0-6-1, New York followed up a Week #5 win over the RoughRiders with an identical 6-5 win over Buonopane and company on Friday.
Apple Core’s Michael Carducci led the way with two tallies and one helper vs. the RoughRiders, yet the contest also witnessed Colin Callanan record a three-point performance. After a two-game scoring drought, the Stony Point, NY native in Callanan rebounded in commendable fashion and helped Apple Core earns its second win for 2020-21.
Eastern Hockey League Premier
The EHLP also announced three studs for October’s Stars of the Month.
Ivan Borisov (New Jersey 87s), Brendan Schmidt (New Hampshire Avalanche), and goaltender Trey Mattern (Philadelphia Little Flyers) earned Stars of the Month honors.
Borisov and the 87’s skated in five contests for the week, while the EHLP’s leading scoring recorded four points (2g-2a) in the process. Additionally, the 87’s improved to 7-3-1 on the year and defeated the both the Philadelphia Little Flyers and Connecticut Chiefs twice over the league’s frame.
Keep in mind that the 87’s weren’t the only team in at both levels to experience success. The Walpole Express EHLP team earned two wins in the frame after taking down the Chiefs and New England Wolves. The Express improved to 4-3-2 on the year and are breathing down the Boston Jr. Rangers’ neck for first place in the Central Division. If it wasn’t for Walpole’s recent 4-1 loss to an undefeated New Hampshire Avalanche squad, perhaps Walpole steals headlines and dons first place for the Central, no?
After a winless start to their inaugural season, the Maine Eclipse have everyone’s attention across both levels over the past two weeks. Let’s just acknowledge the EHLP’s team’s latest feat, after the expansion Eclipse defeated the Wolves 4-3 in dramatic fashion on Monday.
New England rallied and tied the game at 3-3 with less than 3:00 remaining in regulation, yet the Eclipse must have embraced the spooky Holiday weekend’s Blue Moon. Maine’s Nathan Fisher cashed in during the extra frame on a two-on-one for the game-winner, which also marked just the team’s 26th shot on goal – New England outshot the Eclipse 50-26, overall.
It’s safe to say that Eclipse goaltender Samuel Boss earned recognition after the clutch and memorable performance in net for Maine, which played a key role in the team’s statement win over New England.
The EHL and EHLP’s next slate entails plenty of action. Squads such as Team Maryland and the East Coast Wizards plan to resume play for the EHL, while the Avs and Jr. Rangers look to earn the spotlight at the Premier level with busy schedules.
See you at the rink…
(Kyle McKenna covers the EHL for HNIB & can be followed on Twitter @KMcKenna_EHL)