Eastern Hockey League – Worcester Showcase Preview: All 34 Teams In Action In Season’s First Showcase; Games Start Thursday

Anthony DiPaolo
Anthony DiPaolo
Anthony Di Paolo has been working in various levels of hockey over the last five years, ranging from juniors to the pros. Di Paolo spent four seasons as the Communications Director and play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League (2016-2020), and is entering his fifth season in a similar role with the New Jersey 87’s of the Eastern Hockey League. Graduating from Seton Hall University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, the New Jersey native covered Division I athletics for his school’s radio station, WSOU, and spent two years writing for the Fischler Report, a newsletter run by U.S. Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee Stan Fischler.

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With the 2022-23 Eastern Hockey League season underway, it also means the return of the Showcase Series. The first EHL showcase of the season, taking place at the Jr. Railers’ home rink – the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center  – faces off on Thursday and runs through Sunday.

This upcoming showcase will feature a league-record 50 games between the 19 teams in the EHL and 15 teams in the Premier Division. As the teams head to Worcester, some of them will be starting their season while others have a few games under their belt. Here are some matchups and storylines to look for this weekend.

Frozen Final rematch

Last season ended with the New Jersey 87’s defeating the Walpole Express 2-0 in the championship game. Those teams will face each other again on Friday at 4:10 p.m., and while the stakes won’t be as high as April’s matchup, it is still shaping up to be a great game. New Jersey won its first two games of the season with a 3-1 win over New York Apple Core and 2-1 victory over Team Maryland. Meanwhile the Express Hockey Club started its season with a 4-1 victory over the Railers Jr. Hockey Club, as returning goaltender Jack Boschert made 39 saves on 40 shots.

Nick Demio
NE Wolves

The 87’s will also face their opponent from last year’s semifinal as they go up against the New England Wolves on Sunday. Coming into the showcase, New England is off to a solid 2-0-0 start with a 3-0 win over the Seacoast Spartans and 5-0 win over the Express Hockey Club. Returning forward Edijs Grigorjevs notched three assists in his first two games, and players like defenseman Nick Demio and forward Mathias Charlet have also started the season strong offensively.

Welcome to the Showcase Series

It’s a season of firsts for five teams, and all of them will be at the Worcester Showcase. Both EHL teams—HC Rhode Island and Philadelphia Hockey Club—have already earned their first wins and will be two teams to watch out for this weekend. HC Rhode Island notched a pair of wins against the East Coast Wizards by scores of 2-1 and 5-4. Oliver King is the first player to reach three goals this season, and Alex Bauvais has three points (2g, 1a), including the overtime winner in their 5-4 victory. This weekend they will face the Boston Jr. Rangers, Seahawks Hockey Club and the Wolves.

Philadelphia Hockey Club will come into the showcase with a 1-0-1 record following a 4-3 shootout loss and 7-1 victory, both against the Protec Jr. Ducks. They already have three forwards with three points, including Justin Nakagawa (2g, 1a), Ethan Byrne (1g, 2a) and 17-year-old Kayden Suy (1g, 2a). Their next three games are against the Seahawks, Vermont Lumberjacks and Railers.

All three expansion teams in the Premier Division are looking for their first win. The Pennsylvania Huntsmen will play their first-ever game on Saturday against the New England Wolves, and will play a doubleheader on Sunday against the Lumberjacks and Express. The Adirondack Jr. Thunder will face the Seahawks, Jr. Rangers and Wolves, while the Union Jr. Thunder will go up against the Railers, Express and Jr. Rangers.

Just getting started

Eight teams will be starting their 2022-23 campaign at Worcester Ice Center. Most notably, the reigning EHLP champion Boston Jr. Rangers will get the showcase started on Thursday with a 10 a.m. matchup against the Connecticut Chiefs. Seth Gustin will also make his EHL coaching debut for the Lumberjacks this weekend, after leading Vermont’s EHLP team to the Frozen Finals in his first year as a head coach.

There will be no shortage of action with 50 games slated over the weekend, and every game will be available to watch on hockeytv.com

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