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Inside the 87 way: the creation of a team name and identity

By Anthony DiPaolo 09/14/2023, 2:00pm EDT

Since the team’s inception in 2017, the New Jersey 87’s made a name for itself in the Eastern Hockey League and the Premier Division. Whether it’s the unique, number-centric name, the on-ice success or its catchy slogan, the ’87 way’ has become a staple across the league and the junior hockey landscape.

But how exactly did the team come up with its name and logo?

Folkerson commits to SUNY Brockport

By Anthony DiPaolo 06/26/2023, 4:00pm EDT

Playoff hero and two-year veteran will join the Golden Eagles this Fall

The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that Kyle Folkerson has committed to play Division III hockey for SUNY Brockport for the 2023-2024 season.

Folkerson, a 21-year-old forward from Montreal, Quebec, spent two seasons with the 87’s EHL team. In the 2021-22 campaign, he was acquired by the team mid-season and made an immediate impact by recording 11 points (5g, 6a) in 16 regular-season games. He then put up nine points (5g, 4a) in nine postseason games during the EHL team’s championship run.

This past season, Folkerson played in 44 regular-season games and finished second on the team with 36 points (12, 24a). He also represented the EHL in its college showcase series in the South Division’s game against Lebanon Valley College.

Head coach Adam Houli spoke about Folkerson’s commitment and what he meant to the club over the last two seasons.

“Kyle has been an important piece of our offense for the last two years, and to see him rewarded with a college commitment is everything,” Houli said. “He is an EHL champion with us, which means he will always be remembered as a prominent player for our club. I can’t wait to see what he will do at the college level. He is very dynamic and he will be a very strong asset to SUNY Brockport.”

SUNY Brockport is a Division III program located in Brockport, New York. Competing in the State University of New York Athletic Conference, the Golden Eagles are led by head coach Brian Dickinson.

Folkerson discussed his commitment and what it means to join the Golden Eagles. “Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of playing NCAA hockey and now I’m finally going to live that dream. The academics and hockey program at Brockport were exactly what I was looking for in a school,” Folkerson said. “The coaching staff also made a fantastic impression on me and my family during our visit and throughout the entire season. Another bonus is that I’ll be able to play with Matt and Tobin, two of my close friends from our 2022 EHL championship winning team. Really, I could not see a better fit for myself than SUNY Brockport.”

During his tenure with the 87’s, Folkerson’s most memorable moment came in the 2022 wild card game against the Connecticut Chiefs. Down 2-1 with the season on the line, the 87’s made a ferocious push throughout the third period for the tying goal. With just over two minutes left in regulation, Folkerson buried a rebound to even the score at two. Then in overtime, he scored a power-play goal to send the 87’s to the Frozen Finals, earning the ‘Folk Hero’ moniker.

This season, Folkerson continued to grow as a player and meshed well with Charles Lavoie and Aleks Gamzatov, playing together for most of the season as the team’s top line and power-play unit. Folkerson finished this year tied for fifth in the EHL with 12 power-play assists.

Folkerson reflected on his two years with the 87’s and his growth as a hockey player in New Jersey.

“I cannot thank Coach Houli, Matt Kiernan and the entire organization enough. When I first talked to Coach Houli a year and a half ago, I had been bounced around three other junior teams, and I was coming off shoulder surgery. He decided to give me a chance and put me in a position to succeed as soon as I got to New Jersey. With the confidence the coaching staff gave me, I was able to elevate my game to the next level to where it is today. I will always cherish my time as an 87 and will always be a 2022 EHL Champion,” he said.

The 87’s organization would like to congratulate Kyle and his family as he gets ready to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.

Branish commits to Franklin Pierce University

By Anthony DiPaolo 05/31/2023, 1:30pm EDT

Two-year defenseman will join former 87's teammates in New Hampshire

The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that TJ Branish has committed to play Division II hockey at Franklin Pierce University for the 2023-2024 season.

Branish, a 21-year-old defenseman from Littleton, CO, played two seasons with the 87’s EHL team. In his first year with the team, Branish recorded three goals and 14 points in 41 regular season games, then played all nine games as the team won its first-ever EHL championship. In the 2022-23 campaign, he notched two goals and 12 points in 36 games.

Head coach Adam Houli discussed Branish’s commitment and the title he won in 2022.

“He is what we are at the 87’s. He’s a champion, he’ll always have that as he goes to Franklin Pierce. We fell short this year, and it really affected him because he wanted to be able to get back to the Frozen Finals and try to do it again, and you could see it on him when we lost, and that’s who he is and that’s what he meant to our program. He felt it, he really lived it, you hear it all the time, he was what we call the 87 way,” Houli said.

Franklin Pierce University is located in Rindge, New Hampshire and is a Division II program. Competing in the Northeast 10, the Ravens are led by head coach Shaun Millerick.

Branish spoke about his commitment and what it means to join the Ravens in the Fall.

“It feels amazing to commit. I've worked to achieve something like this for years, so it's a great feeling. All the hard work and sacrifices made not just by myself but by my family, coaches, and mentors paid off and I'm so grateful to everyone who's helped get to me to where I am today. And I'm very excited to be able to get a chance to play at a great program like FPU and compete in the NE-10 conference,” Branish said.

Four players have now gone from the 87’s to Franklin Pierce over the last two seasons. Branish will join Payton Jones, Jeremy Connor and Douglas McGuire, who all committed to FPU after winning the EHL championship in the Spring of 2022.

Over the last two seasons, TJ established himself as a dominant two-way defenseman for the 87’s. His agile skating and hockey sense allowed him to transition the play out of his own end often and into the offensive zone. Branish was also effective quarterbacking the power play with his quick puck movement and ability to thread shots through traffic.

Houli spoke more about Branish and his two years with the team, “It’ll be sad that he won’t be on the ice with us next season, but super happy he’s playing college hockey. He’ll forever be a part of this program and we’re excited for him, but he’s a guy we’ve really enjoyed having in our program for two years, and he can leave saying he’s a champion, and that’s something special.”

Branish talked about his two seasons in New Jersey and how it prepared him for the college level.

“My two years with the 87's were crucial in my development. Coach (Adam) Houli has a lot of experience moving guys to the next level and to be able to play for him was a great experience, and I grew not only as a hockey player but as a person,” he said. “The energy around the rink was awesome and to be a part of two winning seasons and a championship run really prepared me on how to compete every day and to never be satisfied.”

The 87’s organization would like to congratulate TJ and his family as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division II collegiate level.

DeMarinis becomes second 87's player to commit to the Hawks this season