The New Jersey 87's went 2-1 between its EHL and Premier teams over this past week. The EHL squad lost its inaugural game on Saturday against the Connecticut RoughRiders but won its home opener against Team Maryland, while the Premier team defeated the Philadelphia Revolution on Sunday, 5-4 in overtime.
Here's a breakdown of the last week for each team:
EHL squad loses inaugural game vs. RoughRiders, but defeats Team Maryland in home opener
Last Saturday marked the first 87's game as part of the Eastern Hockey League as they faced the Connecticut RoughRiders. Despite a strong performance from New Jersey, the RoughRiders walked away with a 4-1 victory.
The 87's out shot Connecticut 9-0 in the first half of the opening period, but the RoughRiders scored the lone goal at 14:47. After a scoreless second period, the RoughRiders doubled its lead in the opening minute.
Jack Lane scored the team's first-ever EHL goal on the power play at 4:50, as the 87's spent the remainder of the period looking for the tying goal. Connecticut fended off the comeback effort and iced the game with a pair of empty-netters. Head coach Adam Houli said the loss was certainly not due to a lack of effort.
"It's a tough league, and you have to put pucks in the net to win, and we couldn't do it," he said. "I thought their offense came off our mistakes, and our offense came off us creating our offense, so I was happy in that regard but we have to get back to work this week."
The 87's managed to do just that, as they bounced back with a 5-0 win over Team Maryland in its home opener Wednesday afternoon in Middletown.
Dalton Jerzak pitched a 27-save shutout while Tim Debord, Jack Keryluk, Zach Tarantino, Geoff LaMorre and Cam Lindsay each scored a goal. They were given credit for 70 shots on goal, as Team Maryland's goaltender Anthony Dul Tufo finished the day with 65 saves.
While Houli was happy to get the win, he also said the offense could do a better job of converting its chances.
"I think that comes on me a little bit as the offensive coach, that we have to bury pucks. We can't be generating this many chances and only potting six goals, so we'll look at, watch video and see where we can get better, but if we can open the floodgates, we'll be a tough team to play against," he said.
EHLP defeats Revolution 5-4 on Brad Heuer's OT goal
Brad Heuer is no stranger to overtime heroics, scoring an OT winner against the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers last season. He did it again on Sunday as the Premier team defeated the Philadelphia Revolution 5-4 at Middletown Sports Complex.
Tom Swartout opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 6:31 of the first period. In the second, the Satkowski brothers each scored a goal, with Cameron burying a one-timer on the power play and Luke scoring on a penalty shot. Their goals, however, were sandwiched by two Revolution goals, making it 3-2 at the end of two periods.
Payton Jones gave the 87's a two-goal lead early in the third period, but the Revolution roared back with two goals of their own to knot the score. During the three-on-three session, Heuer went for a quick wraparound as his teammates made a line change. The puck slid under Revolution goaltender Zack Janis, propelling the Premier team to a 3-0-0 record.
"I just kind of went around the net and threw it on goal. It was kind of lucky, but I'll take it," Heuer said.
Jeremy Connor stopped 42 of the 46 shots he faced, posting his second win of the season in as many starts. After the game, Houli spoke about the Premier team's ability to react positively to adversity.
"They certainly respond better than I would think. We got on them pretty hard and they responded," he said. "Losing a little momentum here and battling back to win in overtime, it may not be good for long term development, but for the short term, it's good to see that kind of resiliency."
The EHL and Premier teams will both go up against the Boston Jr. Rangers on Saturday and Sunday at Middletown Sports Complex. On Saturday, the Premier team will play first at 4:40 p.m., followed by the EHL team at 7:50.
Sunday, the Premier team will start at 11:20 a.m. while the EHL team will follow at 2:30 p.m. All four games will be streamed on hockeytv.com.
Photo credit: Lou Di Paolo
The New Jersey 87's Premier team swept the Junior Flyers in a home-and-home this weekend, with a 1-0 win on Saturday and a 3-2 victory on Sunday.
Coming off a performance that featured a 42-save shutout from goaltender Jeremy Connor, the 87's won in comeback fashion on Sunday by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period. It reinforced the tense rivalry that exists between the two teams and gave the 87's a confidence boost as they start the season with a 2-0-0 record.
"There's certainly a lot of things to work on, but if you told us in training camp that we could walk away in the first weekend with four points, we would've been ecstatic to do it," head coach Adam Houli said. "I'm very excited about the first opening weekend, obviously a lot of work to do, but it's great for the boys to get two wins."
In Saturday's win, Matt Wong's goal at 4:37 of the first period would prove to be the game-winner. Defenseman Ryan Crane took a wrist shot from the point, and Wong deflected the shot from the hash marks to guide the puck under the pads of Jr. Flyers goaltender Reilly Moyer.
Connor was lights out throughout the game, and his best save came in the first period when a puck slid to the top of the crease. Ethan Fuller was at the doorstep and tried to jam a shot into the top corner, but Connor somehow snatched it with his glove and kept the Flyers off the board.
Sunday's game proved to be more of a challenge for the 87's, who fell behind 2-0 in the second period. Rajah Mueller buried a loose puck on a goal-mouth scramble for a power-play goal at 9:40 of the second period. At 16:15 of the middle frame, Logan Buch ripped a shot from the circles that beat 87's goaltender Cameron Carmen.
Undeterred by the deficit, New Jersey found a way to claw itself back into the game. Opening the third period on the power play, the 87's cut the deficit in half on a rebound goal from Simon Fitzgerald at 41 seconds. Ryan Crane dished the puck to Tom Swartwout, whose shot left a juicy rebound for Fitzgerald to bury.
"We knew coming out in the third we had a big power play, and needed to come out and score a quick one," Swartout said. "I got the puck, walked down and shot it, and Fitzgerald was in front and got a nice tip and we got on the board early."
Luke Satkowski tied the game on a deflected shot from the point at 8:10 of the third. Joe Guercio flicked a wrister from the point, and Satkowski redirected the shot past Moyer in a play that was identical to Wong's goal from the day before.
Four minutes and seven seconds after the tying goal, Swartwout took the puck from the Jr. Flyers' corner, carried it to the middle and beat Moyer on a wrister to give New Jersey its first lead of the game.
"I was trying to go up top, but I fanned on the shot and it just went five-hole," Swartwout said with a grin.
Carmen was perfect in the third period and finished the game with 30 saves, capping off the come-from-behind win. Houli spoke about the team's grit and their ability to overcome the two-goal deficit.
"The resiliency was a tremendous response today, down 2-0 after a so-so second period. We had a good talk going into the third period and I thought they responded," Houli said. "The bench was great and very energized, and the fans were too. Everything just came together in that third period and the guys were excited. It showed that we had the grit and this team is going to be very resilient as we go."
Swartwout also spoke about the Premier team gelling together as a group, with most of the players getting their first taste of junior hockey this weekend.
"We got a lot of new guys who are not used to junior hockey, one being myself," he said. "We just had to come out and battle hard, get our legs under us, get used to junior hockey, and you do that by simply battling."
The Premier team returns to action on Sunday Sept 16, when they host the Philadelphia Revolution in Middletown. Last season, the 87's were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Revolution and will have a shot at revenge in the first of six matchups this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:50 p.m.
Hockey season is back as the New Jersey 87's will begin the 2018-19 campaign with a home-and-home against the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers this weekend.
In its inaugural season in the EHL Premier Division, the 87's finished second in the South Conference with an impressive 33-9-2 record, before falling to the Philadelphia Revolution in the first round of the playoffs. This year, the organization will add an EHL team to the mix while still having one in the Premier Division.
Head coach Adam Houli will lead both teams with assistant coach and co-owner Matt Kiernan, and assistant coach Justin Friedman.
"It never stops, it's 24 hours even with one team. Having two teams, I'd say is added pleasure; we get to talk hockey more than we did last year," Houli said. "It's been fun to see how both teams come together, the culture that we've been able to establish very early, and the fun part of having guys being able to go up and down. That's what the players are here for; development, and that's what the EHL is about, and certainly what USA hockey is about."
The EHL team will feature ten players from last year's Premier team, including Jack Lane, Kyle DePalma, Trevor Cear and Sean Carver among others. The Premier team will also have a few returning familiar faces such as Griffin Dublois, Pierce Wickenden and Max Meisenbacher.
Dublois spoke about being a veteran on the Premier team and having a new set of players come in for the 2018-19 season.
"It's good to see, some of the guys look up to the guys who have been on the team for a little while like me and Pierce. It's good to have some leadership on the team and have the rookies look up to you a little bit," he said.
Saturday begins a home-and-home against the Jr. Flyers, a team that quickly turned into a rival for the 87's. Both teams won two of the four games against each other and battled for the number one seed in the South Conference into the final week of the season. Both 87's wins went into overtime, showing that every match between them is bound to be a close one.
"We had a good series with them throughout the year, but this year again we expect them to be good, and we want to compete right from the start," Houli said of the Jr. Flyers. "Opening up against a team that went to the Frozen Final is something we're excited about to show what we can do right from day one."
The first end of the home-and-home, and first puck drop of the season will begin today at 1 p.m. in Ice Quad Rinks. Tomorrow both teams will finish the back-to-back at Middletown Sports Complex with a game time of 3:10 p.m.
You can follow the 87's on twitter, @NJ87sEHL for live updates, and can also watch all regular season games on hockeytv.com.