The New Jersey 87's went a combined 1-3-1 in the latest Eastern Hockey League showcase in Haverhill, Mass. The EHL team split the showcase with one win and one loss, while the Premier team lost all three games they played, with one of them going into overtime.
EHL team defeats Walpole but falls to the Seahawks
On Sunday night, the 87's EHL team took on the Walpole Express with a five-game winning streak on the line. Andrew Maynard got things started with a beautiful goal at 8:06 of the first half, cutting through the defense before slipping a shot past Express goaltender Tobias Falkenstedt. Walpole responded a minute later to make it a 1-1 game, but the 87's regained the lead late in the half when Bryan Van Ness scored on a goalmouth scramble. Jon Kopack finished the night with 27 saves, including 15 in the second half to close out the 2-1 victory.
With a quick turnaround on the second and final day of the showcase, New Jersey went up against the Seahawks Hockey Club. The 87's fell behind early when Adam Jeon chopped a fluttering puck that snuck by starting goaltender Tanner Beals at 9:01 of the first half. Just over a minute later, former 87 Wyatt Hinkson wristed a seeing-eye shot from the point that went top shelf to extend the lead to 2-0. Declan Dennehy tacked on a shorthanded goal with 10 seconds remaining in the half, giving the Seahawks a 3-0 lead heading into the intermission.
Daniels Leja put the 87's on the board at 3:22 of the second half when Trevor Cear made a stretch pass from his own end. The Latvian forward on a breakaway where he tucked in a backhander past Sahawks goaltender Tristan Hadley. It was the only goal New Jersey could score, however, as Hadley made critical saves on partial breakaways from Trevor Cear and Zach Tarantino. The Seahawks walked away with the 3-1 victory and capped the 87's winning streak at six games.
Premier team goes 0-for-3 against the top New England teams
For the first time this season, the 87's Premier team lost consecutive games, as they went 0-2-1 in the Haverhill showcase. Two of those losses came on Sunday when they had a double-header against the Boston Jr. Rangers and New Hampshire Avalanche.
The 87's arrived in Massachusetts around 11:00 a.m. on Sunday so the Premier team could play a noon game against the Jr. Rangers. Boston showed no signs of fatigue when they scored three goals in the first half, and four more in the second. Quinn Shepard and Johnny Malandruccolo scored two goals each while Logan Palmer stopped all 14 shots he faced. Jeremy Connor and Cameron Carmen split time in net as they both faced a barrage of shots from the Jr. Rangers' constant attack.
After getting a few hours of rest, the Premier team went back into action that night to face the New Hampshire Avalanche, the one team above the Jr. Rangers in the New England conference standings. The Avalanche pulled ahead 1-0 early in the first half, but Michael Hertzberg and Andrew Walsh scored seven minutes apart to give the 87's a 2-1 lead. It held for much of the second half until Ryan Tobeler tied the game with 1:13 left in regulation. Baxter Kimball scored 52 seconds into overtime, giving New Hampshire the extra point.
The Premier team concluded their showcase with a game against the expansion Railers Jr. Hockey Club. The Railers went on the attack early and led the first half in shots by a margin of 22-8 while leading on the scoresheet 1-0. They tacked on another goal at 17:41 of the second half, while Hugh McGuigan scored the lone 87's goal with 42 seconds left in regulation. Carmen made 33 saves on 35 shots in the losing effort, as the Premier team falls to a record of 10-3-2.
Friday Nov 15: vs. Philadelphia Jr. Flyers - 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday Nov 19: at Connecticut RoughRiders - 12:30 p.m.
Saturday Nov 16: at New York Bridgemen - 5:00 p.m.
The New Jersey 87's have won a combined 12 straight wins between the EHL and Premier teams, as they get ready for their next showcase on Sunday. The EHL is riding a five-game winning streak while the Premier team won their last seven contests.
Veterans lead the way for EHL squad
Following the EHL All-Star showcase, the 87's EHL team faced the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, Revolution, Little Flyers and the Connecticut RoughRiders and won each contest. New Jersey scored at least five goals in each of the four games, and the winning streak was highlighted by an 8-5 victory over the Connecticut RoughRiders on Wednesday afternoon. Going into the first intermission down 3-2, the 87's responded by scoring four goals in the second period, including two by Johnny Jackson and one by Michael Hertzberg and Andrew Maynard. Daniels Leja notched three assists, and has now recorded three points in each of his last four games.
Head coach Adam Houli talked about the EHL team's winning streak and credited his returning players with their recent success.
"Our veterans have done an excellent job of performing and making sure that they picked up the slack where we faltered. Our win streak now and how we're playing is directly attributed to our veterans, understanding this league and how good it is, how good you have to be day in and day out," Houli said. "This is veteran driven, we're going to ride those guys and hopefully the guys underneath them will pick it up so we can extend this even further."
Shootout win over Little Flyers highlights Premier team's seven-game win streak
Dating back to the last week of October, the 87's Premier Division team recorded three wins against the New Jersey Renegades and victories over the New York Bridgemen and Philadelphia Little Flyers.
Last Sunday's contest against the Little Flyers, featuring the two top teams in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, was billed as the Hockey TV game of the week for the EHL Premier Division. The 87's jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals by Payton Jones and Dante Balsamo. Philadelphia responded with a goal late in the first period, and another one early in the second period. Anthony Mule notched his 10th goal of the year at 12:51 of the middle period to give New Jersey the lead, but the Little Flyers responded three minutes later to knot the score.
After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game went into a shootout. Ivan Borisov connected in the first round while Luke Headman scored for the Little Flyers in round three. Jeremy Connor and Tyler Cassidy traded saves for their respective teams until the seventh round, as Ryan Crane made a backhand-forehand move for the shootout winner, vaulting the 87's to a 4-3 victory over the Little Flyers. After the game, Houli noted the difference between his Premier team from their opening night loss to the Little Flyers and now.
"The biggest thing about the Premier team is watching our development from day one. We lost to the Little Flyers, where they dominated. The game last night was back and forth, and it was a really good hockey game at the Premier level," Houli said. "This is a fun group, they're young and inexperienced, but every game they're getting better, and building up our goal at getting to Providence. Watching the development every day and really seeing it through the on-ice product, it's exciting and fun for our staff to be a part of."
Up next for both teams is the EHL showcase in Massachusetts. The EHL team will play in Haverhill where the Valley Jr. Warriors play, and the Premier team will play at the Lawrence Valley Forum and Chelmsford Forum.
Sunday Nov 10: vs. Walpole Express - 8:35 p.m.
Monday Nov 11: vs. Seahawks Hockey Club - 1:15 p.m.
Sunday Nov 10: vs. Boston Jr. Rangers - 12:10 p.m.
Sunday Nov 10: vs. New Hampshire Avalanche - 8:40 p.m.
Monday Nov 11: vs. Railers Jr. Hockey Club - 11:35 a.m.
Photo credit: Richard O'Donnell Photography
The New Jersey 87's are proud to announce that Justin Vickers has committed to play Division III hockey at Stevenson University for the 2020-2021 season.
Vickers, a 20-year-old defenseman from Murrieta, California, is in his second year with the team. In 15 games this season, Vickers has 12 points with three goals and nine assists, and was recently named an alternate captain to the EHL team.
"He is a kid that--credit to our staff, found him--and came to the East Coast, developed his game and really bought in to everything we were doing," said 87's head coach Adam Houli. "Stevenson is getting a great kid on the ice, off the ice, and frankly that's a program that will be really good in the next four years."
Stevenson University is a Division III program located in Baltimore County, Maryland. Competing in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Mustangs are led by head coach Dominick Dawes. Vickers spoke about his commitment and what the accomplishment means to him.
"It's something I've been working on for a long time, and it's something I've dedicated my whole life to," Vickers said. "To be able to watch it fall in place in front of me is really exciting."
Last season, in his first year of junior hockey, Vickers recorded 18 points (5g, 13a) in 36 games with the 87's. With 12 points in his first 15 games, the California native is well on pace to surpass those numbers and has emerged as on e of the team's best two-way defenseman. He talked about his development as a player over the last two years in New Jersey.
"Understanding the player that I am, I couldn't have done it without the great coaches that we have here,' he said. "They were able to help me understand how to play the game the right way and the things to do so you can settle in, play your game and be consistent."
In mid-October, Vickers was one of three 87's selected to the Eastern Hockey League All-Star Team and played against three Division III schools. Houli said the event was instrumental in helping Vickers commit to Stevenson.
"I think it showed that he's ready to play as a Division III athlete right now. That's what put it over the top, and that's why the event is so good for our league and good for the players who make it. It gives them a real good look at whether they can do this at the next level," Houli said.
Vickers said the All-Star event allowed him see what it takes to play in the collegiate level, but also to bring that level of intensity back to the 87's as they continue their season.
"It got me ready to play college hockey. It was a cool experience to be able to play three college teams, and programs that have been around for a while. It was really motivating to play those teams and to be able to come back and play with that kind of fire," Vickers said.
The 87's would like to congratulate Justin and his family as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.
Boston scores on the power play to make it 7-0, with 3:45 left in the 2nd half.