Eastern Junior Hockey League – Newington Showcase Recap: Solid Showing By Hosts At Both EHL and EHLP Levels

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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When it comes to ending the year with a bang, the Connecticut Chiefs are at the top of the list. Their EHL and EHLP teams swept the fourth league-wide showcase at their home arena in Newington.

The Chiefs EHL team defeated the New England Wolves 6-4, the Seacoast Spartans 3-0 and the Philadelphia Little Flyers 3-2. Hunter Rossi had five points (2g, 3a) in the showcase while Marshall McKallip recorded a 31-save shutout against the Spartans. 

Hunter Rossi
CT Chiefs

On the Premier side, the Chiefs opened the showcase with a 3-2 victory over the Railers Junior Hockey Club. The following day, they defeated the Seahawks Hockey Club 2-1 in overtime with a game-winning goal from Jared Martin. On Thursday they completed the sweep with a 2-1 win over the Vermont Lumberjacks, highlighted by a 34-save effort from goaltender Logan Givens.

Chiefs EHL head coach Greg Heffernan spoke about his organization’s performance in the Newington showcase, and how important it was for the teams to go a combined 6-0-0 during the week.

“We were very happy to have both of our teams continue to show well by sweeping the showcase. Our P’s will head into the Christmas break first in the South Division with games at hand, and the E’s are comfortably in second in the Central Division,” Heffernan said. “We look forward to the new year, and are very excited to continue to help our athletes commit to NCAA schools and develop championship-caliber players.”

As the Chiefs took advantage of home ice in the fourth leg of the EHL showcase series, it’s time to take a look around the league and see who else performed well in Newington.

Once again, the South proved to be one of the top divisions in the league, and it starts with the New Jersey 87’s. They took a five-game winning streak into the showcase and faced their biggest challenge yet with the defending champion the Boston Jr. Rangers, and came out on top with a 3-2 victory. New Jersey followed that performance with a 3-1 win over the East Coast Wizards on Wednesday, extending the streak to seven games. 87’s forward Matt Anastasio recorded four points (2g, 2a) over the two games and is now riding a 10-game point streak.

Team Maryland and the Protec Jr. Ducks both went 2-0-1, earning five out of six possible points in their showcase appearances. Maryland shut out the Seacoast Spartans 5-0 on Tuesday and finished the showcase on a high-note with 5-4 victory over the Railers Junior Hockey Club. Their offense is firing on all cylinders even with the absence of Farrell Dinn, but forwards such as JJ Creighton and newly acquired Patrick Doyle have stepped up to keep the team in first place. 

Protec also won their games on the first and last days of the showcase, beating the Valley Jr. Warriors 3-0 and the Spartans 5-3, the latter win being highlighted by James Tilley’s hat trick and a four-assist game for Spencer Quinn. 

Rounding out the South Division, the Philadelphia Little Flyers had one win in Connecticut, a 5-2 victory over the Valley Jr. Warriors powered by a two-goal performance from Tony Andrews. 

Going beyond the Chiefs’ showcase sweep, the rest of the Central Division had plenty of highlights throughout the week. The Connecticut RoughRiders defeated the Railers 6-2 on Wednesday, and Colin Bella scored twice. His first tally was his 56th career goal, making him the all-time leading goal scorer for the RoughRiders. He surpassed the previous record-holder and older brother Andrew Bella. 

Jackson Bernard
NY Apple Core

The Railers picked up their lone win of the showcase with a 3-2 victory over New York Apple Core, and Stefan Kulhanek prevailed with 24 saves on the 26 shots he faced. Apple Core, however, would bounce back with a stunning 2-0 win over the Jr. Rangers on Thursday. Colin Callanan and Nick Weber scored the goals while Jackson Bernard stood on his head with a 42-save shutout. 

Chris Paige
Walpole Express

Over in the East Division, the Walpole Express managed to win all three of their games with a 5-2 victory over the RoughRiders, a 4-3 overtime win against the Jr. Ducks and a 3-2 win over the New England Wolves. Chris Paige, who scored the overtime goal against Protec, finished the showcase with three points (2g, 1a) in as many games. Scott Bird won each of his two starts–including a 43-save performance against the Wolves–as the Express have now won six of their last seven games.

The rest of the teams in the East won a game each. On the first of the showcase, the Seahawks saw a commanding 5-2 lead over the Lumberjacks wither away in the second half. Andrew Kimball managed to stave off the comeback, however, with an overtime goal. The Jr. Rangers had some late-game heroics of their own on Wednesday, with a 4-2 win over the Vermont Lumberjacks. Garrison Gagnon scored the go-ahead goal with 1:42 left in the second half. 

On Thursday, the Warriors were trailing the Seahawks 5-4 but evened the score with 1:03 remaining with a goal by Jonathan Lapsa. Billy Hartnett converted on a Warriors power play in overtime, giving them the 6-5 win. Meanwhile, the East Coast Wizards, who previously suffered a stretch of four games without scoring a goal, saw an offensive explosion with a 7-4 victory over the RoughRiders. Trailing 4-0 late in the first half, they started a barrage of seven goals, with seven different goal-scorers.

Michael Tersoni
NH Avalanche

Up in the North Division, the New Hampshire Avalanche continued their dominance with three victories, extending their winning streak to seven games while taking the top spot in the EHL power rankings. Two of their wins came against South Division teams with a 4-2 win over the Little Flyers and 3-2 shootout victory against Team Maryland. The Avs closed out their showcase on Thursday with a 3-1 win against the Lumberjacks. Michael Tersoni led New Hampshire’s offense with six points (2g, 4a), and Ronan Mobley went a perfect 3-0 between the pipes.

The New England Wolves won their second game of the showcase, a 2-1 shootout victory over the Seahawks. Latvian forward Edijs Grigorjevs tied the game with 5:56 left in the 2nd half, and Ricards Jelenskis scored the shootout-clinching goal by banking the puck off his skate and sliding it past the goaltender five-hole. 

EHLP

Only seven EHLP teams were in Newington for the showcase, and apart from the Chiefs, the Railers came out on top in Newington. While they lost their first game to the host team, the Railers bounced back with a 7-5 win against the Little Flyers and an 8-0 victory over the 87’s just four hours apart. Daniel Schnack led the Railers’ offense in the doubleheader with six points (3g, 3a), picking up three points in each contest. In the second game, former New Jersey Renegades goaltender Joey Jamison earned the shutout against a familiar foe in the 87’s.

The Seahawks Hockey Club‘s EHLP team won two of their three games, including a 4-3 overtime win over the 87’s and a 3-2 victory against the Little Flyers. Calvin Mansfield buried a rebound for the overtime winner against New Jersey, and Max Greco scored the go-ahead goal with 27 seconds left in regulation against the Little Flyers.

Next Showcase

It’s hard to believe, but the EHL only has one showcase remaining, and that’s in Exeter, New Hampshire. The fifth and final leg of the showcase series will take place from January 15-17, and several teams will be off from the holiday break and will return to action in Exeter. 

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