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EHL Playoff Update: Form holds as seeds advance

The top eight seeds advanced and only two series required three games in the first round of the Eastern Hockey League playoffs. Quarterfinal play gets under way with two games on Friday and continues through Monday, as needed.

First Round

No. 1 Philadelphia Little Flyers sweep No. 16 Valley Jr. Warriors

The South champion Little Flyers were the most dominant team during the regular season and had little trouble sweeping the Warriors, 9-0 and 6-1.

In Game One, Cam Berry connected while short-handed, at even strength, and on the power play for the hat trick. Gabe Chuckran scored the game-winner with the man advantage less than five minutes into the game. Blake Delisle, Colin Woods, Drew Gannon and John Nugent also scored in support of Trevor Micucci’s 22-save shutout.

In Game Two, the Warriors kept it close for two periods before wearing down. Philly’s Phillip Zbell and the Warriors’ Brendan Heinze matched first-period goals and the Flyers’ Chuckran netted the game-winner in the second period. Pavel Mikhasenok triggered a four-goal third period that sealed it for the Flyers. Greg Procopio picked up the win.

No. 2 New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs bounce No. 15 New Jersey Rockets

The North champion Monarchs scored once in each period of Game One for a 3-0 win. Matt Steeves, Eric Grover and Hunter Laslo handled the scoring while Cole Burack notched the shutout with 23 stops. Joshua Creelman was immense for the Rocket with 63 saves.

In Game Two, Burack made 34 saves and the Monarchs put seven unanswered on the board in the first 31+ minutes to complete the sweep, 7-2. Luke Babcock delivered a hat trick while Steeves netted a pair. Scott Mulligan and Brent Beaudoin also scored. Michael Ufberg and Derek Caruso connected for New Jersey.

No. 3 Walpole Express oust No. 14 Vermont Lumberjacks

The Boston champion Express brought the solid debut campaign of the Lumberjacks to an end with a two-game sweep, 3-0 and 5-2.

In Game One, Evan McCarthy turned back 35 shots for the shutout. Nick Balboa and Colin Biebel had first-period goals and Balboa sealed it with an empty-netter.

Game Two turned into a shooting gallery with the Lumberjacks’ Anthony Giordano amassing 49 saves and McCarthy stopping 41 shots. Frankie Cefalu had two goals for the Express while Blake Walderson, Jeremy Carignan and Biebel had one each. Kevin Fitzgerald and Brett Robinson scored for the ‘Jacks.

No. 4 Connecticut Oilers eliminate No. 13 Boston Jr. Rangers

The Central kingpin Oilers advanced with a pair of 6-3 wins.

The Oilers raced out to a 5-0 lead in Game One as Jim Buckingham tallied twice. Kevin Robinson, Paul McAvoy, Dejon Marshy and Ludvig Steenberg rounded out the offense. Charlie Shepard had a pair for the Rangers.

There was a similar script in Game Two as the Oilers opened up a 4-0 lead on two goals by Lucas Bombardier and one each from Nick Jermain and Cam Cundy. However the Rangers responded with one goal from Derek Mecrones and two from Tommy Royer. It remained a one-goal contest until the Oilers’ Alex Wilkinson iced it with 5:19 to play and Marc Happy added an empty-netter.

No. 5 Northern Cyclones handle No. 12 New York Applecore

The defending champs began their defense with a sweep by scores of 4-2 and 7-3.

The Cyclones worked long and hard to solve Applecore keeper Blake Wojtala (50 saves) in Game One. They led 2-1 through two periods on Nick Felan and Joey Meehan goals before Aaron Huffnagle created space with two third-period strikes. Kyle Menges and Zach White had the New York goals.

Things came much more easily in Game Two as Dylan Bengston, Felan and Huffnagle (first of two) staked the Cyclones to a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes. Drake Longaker, Nolan Redler and Sean Brown also scored. Pontus Palmborg, Trevor Mack and Tom Green scored for New York.

No. 6 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton slides past No. 11 Boston Bandits 2-1

In one of two series to go three games, the Bandits got the jump in a wild 8-5 Game One win but the Knights advanced via 6-1 and 7-4 wins.

The Bandits put away Game One with four unanswered third-period goals. Eight players scored with Nate Chase’s tally at 5:21 of the third period standing as the game-winner. Pontus Okerblad and Zach Remers had two apiece for WBS.

The Knights controlled Game Two from the outset to even the series, 6-1. Stephen Kelly scored twice while Blake Brazil (two assists) and Okerblad (assist) counted goals in their multi-point nights. Goalie Kenny Graham had an easy go of it, called on for only 16 saves.

Game Three was a bit more wide open than WBS would have liked but Okerblad led the way with two goals and two assists. John Ryan had the game-winner at 13:35 of the second period. Steve Rocchio had a goal and an assist in the loss.

No. 7 New York Bobcats squeeze past No. 10 East Coast Wizards

The Wizards took Game One, 3-1, but the Bobcats moved on with 4-2 and 3-2 wins.

East Coast goalie Chris Johnson held the Bobcats at bay in a 37-save Game One performance and Wizards got goals from C.J. Grinnell, Ryan White and Patrick Wrenn. Corey Kennedy scored for the Bobcats.

In Game Two, the Bobcats broke a 1-all tie on third-period goals by Brett Johnson and Tyler Peters. Sean Gargin scored in the second period and Charles Barber added an empty-netter. The Wizards’ Ryan White and Ben Mello scored power play goals.

Brandon Rothwell made 33 saves and Brett Johnson broke a 2-all tie with his second goal of the game at 4:29 of the third period as the Bobcats advanced. David Kleyman also scored for New York while Dylan Vrees and Jonathan Alsfeld had the East Coast goals.

No. 8 Hartford Jr. Wolfpack knock off No. 9 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers

The Wolfpack advanced with a sweep in this tightly contested series.

Luke Rivera’s power play goal with 6:12 left in regulation was the difference in a 3-2 Game One win. Jon Ruiz had both Flyers’ goals, sandwiched around tallies from Hartford’s Nick Belger and Matt Muzyka. Flyers’ goalie Johan Blomquist had 34 saves.

Game Two was tied, 3-3, in the third period when Dante Tomassini notched the game-winner on the power play. C.J. Hoy (two goals) and Muzyka added insurance tallies for the 6-3 final. Rivera and Belger also scored for the ‘Pack. Jeff Beck, Josh Larson and Ruiz found the net for Philly.

Second Round
(1) Philadelphia Little Flyers vs. (8) Hartford Jr. Wolfpack
(2) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs vs. (7) New York Bobcats
(3) Northern Cyclones vs. (6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
(4) Walpole Express vs. (5) Connecticut Oilers

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle joined the HNIB team in 1990 and is a Senior Writer and Director of the Northern New England and Mass/R.I. High School Division camps. An award-winning veteran editor/writer of 35 years experience in the print and digital mediums, he has conceptualized, edited and produced original content and coordinated production for local and global publications and their websites. He holds degrees from Merrimack College and Boston University and won multiple NEPA and NEAP awards during his tenure as Sports Editor of The Daily News of Newburyport and News Editor of The Amesbury News. He is the 2016 recipient of the North Shore Lifetime Commitment From the Community award presented by Moynihan Lumber and is a 2017 inductee into the Newburyport High School Wall of Fame. The Newburyport, MA native resides with his family in Epping, NH. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kdoyle40.
Kevin Doyle
- 4 hours ago