The New Jersey 87's won three of its four games last week, as the EHL team opened 2021 with a 6-4 win over the Protec Jr. Ducks and a 6-2 victory over the Connecticut RoughRiders. The Premier fell in overtime to the Little Flyers by a score of 3-2, but responded with a 10-1 win over the New Jersey Renegades.
Kicking off the calendar year of 2021, the 87's EHL team hosted the Protec Jr. Ducks at Jersey Shore Arena on Wednesday afternoon. Tyler Ebeling opened the scoring for Protec with a goal at 6:04 of the first period, but the 87's responded with goals from Kei Yasuda, Dante Terramani and Spencer White. Tim DeBord and Terramani scored early in the second period to make it 5-1, but the Jr. Ducks managed to cut down on their deficit late in the game. Jordan Guigui scored a power-play goal at 6:49 of the second, and Olivier Charest and Matt Harvey both found the back of the net with under five minutes left in the third period to make it 5-4. Zach Lindenwirth, in his debut with the 87's, scored an empty netter to make it 6-4. Jon Kopack made 48 saves in a rare game in which the 87's were outshot.
Two days later, the EHL team hosted the Connecticut RoughRiders for the first of three consecutive games against each other. Tyler Buonopane converted on a breakaway at 5:26 of the first to give Connecticut a 1-0 lead. Similar to Wednesday, however, the 87's would respond and take full control of the game. Dante Terramani scored on the power play at 13:18. Matthew Zdanowicz, who also made his team debut on Wednesday, picked up his first goal with the team when he slipped a backhander through the five-hole of RoughRiders goalie Adam Faust.
As Friday's contest marked the 100th career game for Tim DeBord, he reached another big milestone early in the second period by scoring his 50th career goal with the team. He corralled a pass right in front of the net and shoveled a backhander past Faust for a power-play tally. The 87's added three more goals in the third period, as Cal Couell, Alex Raketich and Kei Yasuda found the back of the net in the final period. Jeremy Connor made 19 saves to improve his record to 7-0-0.
Following the 6-2 win on Friday, 87's head coach Adam Houli spoke about Tim DeBord and his three seasons with the EHL team.
"Tim Debord is the epitome of the 87’s way. He is exactly the type of player you want when you need to start a program, build upon it and want your program to be championship worthy. Having him hit two major milestones in one game is exactly what Tim deserves. He is a phenomenal player on and off the ice, and I am very happy for him," Houli said.
Friday evening, the Premier team started a back-to-back with a road contest against the Philadelphia Little Flyers. Thomas Yocum opened the scoring for the Little at 11:55 with a power-play goal, but Ben Peiffer responded just one minute and 11 seconds later with a point shot that found its way through traffic. No goals were scored in the second period, but the Little Flyers regained the lead on a goal from Elliot Schon at 3:15 of the third. New Jersey spent much of the period looking for the equalizer, and it finally came with 19 seconds left in regulation as Lucas Kline took a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that went upstairs past Flyers goalie Trey Mattern. In overtime, Schon scored the game-winner with 13 seconds left on the clock, securing a 3-2 win for the Little Flyers while ending the 87's nine-game winning streak.
Saturday night the 87's went to Aspen Ice for a road game against the Renegades. Brian Kologlu scored first for the Renegades at 15:35 of the first period, but the 87's dominated in the final 40 minutes. Hugh McGuigan, Ivan Borisov, Andrew Walsh and Lucas Kline all scored in the second period to make it a 4-1 game. In the third, Walsh scored two more goals to complete the hat trick while Dom Migliorato, Owen Newhouse, AJ Mule and Patrick DeMarinis also lit the lamp. Tyler Roesel made 22 saves out of the 23 shots he faced to secure the win.
Houli talked about the Premier team's weekend, noting that he challenged them to be better in the second and third periods against the Renegades. He praised the way his team responded.
"I like how they played all week leading up to that game and I was very happy with the final on Saturday night. They are beginning to develop that 'it factor' that they’re going to need if they want to make a run in the playoffs. I am excited and hope the players are beginning to see their potential," Houli said.
-Matt Bielinski had four assists in the EHL team's win over the Jr. Ducks, and added one more in Friday's contest against the RoughRiders.
-Andrew Walsh's hat trick in the Premier game vs. the Renegades featured goals in all three different scenarios: shorthanded, on the power play and even-strength.
-Last Tuesday the Premier team had an exhibition game against the New Jersey Titans North American Tier III Hockey League team (NA3HL). The 87's won the contest by a score of 4-2.
Wednesday Jan 20: vs. Connecticut RoughRiders - 12:30 p.m.
Friday Jan 22: vs. Connecticut RoughRiders - 1:00 p.m.
Sunday Jan 24: at Protec Jr Ducks - 6:30 p.m.
Friday Jan 22: vs. New Jersey Renegades - 8:25 p.m.
Sunday Jan 24: vs. Philadelphia Little Flyers - 10:50 a.m.
Photo credit: Tom Smith
The New Jersey 87's are proud to announce that Nick Swain has committed to play Division III hockey at Wilkes University for the 2021-2022 season.
Swain is a 20-year-old forward from Jackson, NJ and is playing in his second season with the 87's. This year he is among the league leading scorers with 33 points (16g, 17a) in 21 games, and has 49 career points 24g, 25a) in his career with the 87's.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about Swain's commitment and growth as a player over the last season.
"He has worked extremely hard over the past 14 months to reach his goal. When he started with us last year he was still raw with a lot of potential, and has really established himself as one of the top players in the Eastern Hockey League," Houli said. "He is a phenomenal person who does everything the right way with the team-first mentality. I couldn’t be more excited for him and I know Wilkes is getting a very good hockey player and an even better person."
Wilkes University is a Division III program located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Competing in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference, the Colonels are led by head coach Tyler Hynes.
Swain discussed his commitment and what it means to join a program such as Wilkes.
"It's a sigh of relief just getting that weight off my shoulder. Wilkes was my number one school, it's a very highly respected program so I'm looking forward to that and hopefully we stay in the ranks as one of the top D-III teams," Swain said.
The New Jersey native started the 2019-20 season in Canada, playing for the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. Jack Lane was among his teammates, and when Lane decided to return to the Garden State for his second stint with the 87's, Swain joined him to further bolster the team's offensive attack. Those two will be united again when Swain joins Lane at Wilkes in the fall of 2021.
"Having Jack Lane at Wilkes is awesome, it's just a bonus knowing someone already there," Swain said.
Swain currently has 16 goals in his first 21 games of the 2020-2021 campaign, and was among the 64 players recognized as All-Stars in the Eastern Hockey League. He spoke about his growth within the 87's organization and how the team has given him the tools to thrive at the Tier III level.
"Coach Houli and Matt (Kiernan) do a lot of things well. The team breeds you to buy into their systems, and once you buy in it makes the game so much easier, because once everyone knows what they're doing it eventually becomes muscle memory and you don't even have to think about it."
The 87's organization would like to congratulate Nick and his family as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.
The New Jersey 87's Premier Division team rang in the new year with two wins over the New Jersey Renegades, defeating their intra-state rival by scores of 9-0 and 7-2 on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. With the weekend sweep, the Premier team also extended its winning streak to nine games.
Friday's contest took place at Aspen Ice as both teams were set to return from the holiday break. The 87's wasted no time picking up where they left off by scoring three goals in each period. Ivan Borisov recorded five points (2g, 3a) while Hugh McGuigan and Luke Satkowski also scored two goals each. Special teams were critical for the 87's as they went 3-for-4 on the power play and killed off all six of their penalties. Matt Corella made 17 saves for the Premier team's first shutout of the season.
Despite their setback, the Renegades came out much stronger in Saturday night's contest at Jersey Shore Arena. Renegades goaltender Joey Jamison stopped all 25 shots he faced in the first period, and David Renzulli scored twice in the second to give his team a 2-0 lead. The 87's bounced back less than a minute after Renzulli's second goal, as Hugh McGuigan cashed in on a three-on-one rush. Nick Mulder evened the score at 14:10 of the period, ringing a shot off the post and in for his first goal as an 87. Just 32 seconds later, Michael LoRicco scored on a breakaway to give his team a 3-2 lead. The 87's turned up the pressure in the third period, getting goals from Andrew Walsh, McGuigan, Luke Satkowski and Ben Peiffer. Cole Moore--who was sidelined for nearly two months with an injury-- finished the night with 16 saves to earn the win in his first start since Oct 31.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about the Premier team's win on Saturday, and their ability to stay focused after giving the first two goals.
"At this level even taking a minute or a shift off can result in a goal, and we were able to see that on Saturday night. At the same time we were also able to see that when we play shift after shift we can generate quite a few goals and play well. We are working as a team to continue to mature as we are a very young junior hockey team. The more games that force us to be better can only benefit us in the long run," Houli said.
Over the holiday break, several teams in the Eastern Hockey League had relocated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those teams were the Connecticut Chiefs, who are now the Western Massachusetts Chiefs. Their relocation means the South Division only consists of the 87's, Renegades and Philadelphia Little Flyers. The 87's Premier team has 15 games remaining in the regular season, and Houli talked about the impact of playing against two different teams for most of the season.
"I think it’s going to create some intense rivalries but I also think it’s going to create some unique opportunities. We want to establish our goal as being number one in the South Division but at the same time building towards the playoffs. It becomes difficult in a three team division however we don’t have the time to worry about things we can’t control," he said.
-Aidan Foca and Nick Mulder both scored their first career goals with the team over the weekend. Foca scored in Friday's contest while Mulder picked up his on Saturday.
-Hugh McGuigan had a particularly good weekend, racking up four goals and five points in the weekend sweep over the Renegades.
-The EHL team will finally return to action this week. As of this writing, the EHL franchise has 87 regular season wins, matching the team name.
Wednesday Jan 13: vs. Protec Jr Ducks - 12:00 p.m.
Friday Jan 15: vs. Connecticut RoughRiders - 12:30 p.m.
Friday Jan 15: at Philadelphia Little Flyers - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday Jan 16: at New Jersey Renegades - 7:10 p.m.
Photo Credit: Richard O'Donnell