This weekend, the Eastern Hockey League will have two All-Star teams going up against three different NCAA Division III schools, and the New Jersey 87’s will have seven total players participating.
Aleks Gamzatov and Charles Lavoie will play for the main All-Star team, as they face Nazareth College on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Bill Gray’s Iceplex, then play SUNY Brockport on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Wegman’s Ice Arena. Adam Houli will also serve as the head coach.
Another team will consist solely of players from the South Division—including the New Jersey 87’s, Protec Junior Ducks, Philadelphia Little Flyers, Philadelphia Hockey Club and Team Maryland—and will face Lebanon Valley College on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Hersheypark Arena. Kyle Folkerson, Patrick DeMarinis, TJ Branish, Ian Lindberg and Hayden Watson will represent the 87’s for the South Division All Stars.
Houli spoke about the college series and what it means to have seven players representing the team.
“That’s a phenomenal opportunity for them to showcase their skills and talent at the collegiate level against collegiate level players,” Houli said. “At the end of the day, our job is to have them ready to get to that level, and any time they can play them earlier than expected is a phenomenal opportunity. Watching our players be able to partake is very special to myself, our program and all those involved with the 87’s.”
In addition to the seven players and Houli, 87’s play-by-play announcer, Anthony Di Paolo, and rinkside reporter, Chris Russo, will have the call for the South Division All Stars’ game against Lebanon Valley College on Saturday.
All three games will be streamed on Hockey TV, and below is a schedule of the three games:
Friday Oct 21: EHL All Stars vs. Nazareth College at Bill Gray’s Iceplex – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 22: EHL All Stars vs. SUNY Brockport at Wegman’s Ice Arena – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Oct 22: EHL South Division vs. Lebanon Valley College at Hersheypark Arena – 7:00 p.m.
The New Jersey 87’s are off to a strong start in the 2022-23 campaign, as the EHL team picked up wins over New York Apple Core and Team Maryland while the Premier team earned victories over the Philadelphia Little Flyers and Union Jr. Thunder.
Playing its first game since winning the championship in Providence this spring, the 87’s EHL team opened the new season last Friday at Jersey Shore Arena against Apple Core. Following a scoreless first period, Ryan Karbach opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal just moments after 87’s goaltender Kyle Spann made a terrific pad save from point-blank range. Patrick DeMarinis doubled the lead on a two-on-one rush, ripping a shot off the left post and in.
Rookie forward Aleks Gamzatov scored his first goal of the season with a power-play tally in the third period, carrying the puck from the half wall to the high slot and ripping a shot high-blocker side. After the 87’s secured a 3-1 victory, Karbach spoke about his goal and the special teams’ role in the win.
“I’m just trying to help the team when I get out there on the penalty kill, we’ve just got to get pucks out and get them in deep and luckily I got a couple of breaks,” Karbach said.
The following day, the 87’s traveled to Piney Orchard Arena for a game against Team Maryland. The game remained scoreless after 40 minutes, much in part to stellar goaltending from Cam Carroll. His best stop of the night came in the second period when Maryland forward Tyler Hissong shoveled a backhander towards the goal, and Carroll reached back with his stick to keep it out.
In the third period, New Jersey opened the scoring on a goal by Blake Dustin. A shot from Jake Rock took an unusual bounce off the glass and went right to the front of the goal where Dustin tapped in his first goal as an 87. Charles Lavoie made it 2-0 with a power-play goal, as he ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. Carroll finished the game with 36 saves on 37 shots in the 2-1 win.
The Premier team started their season on Saturday at IceWorks Skating Complex to play the Philadelphia Little Flyers. Ayden Georgiano scored just a minute and 13 seconds into the contest to put the 87’s ahead, but the Little Flyers responded with two goals of their own. Ethan Paligo knotted things up in the closing minutes of the first period.
Lithuanian defenseman Nathan Vladson scored his first goal as an 87 in the second period, sending a scorching wrist shot under the blocker of Flyers goaltender Nick Giuliano. Philadelphia responded again late in the period with a goal by Johnny Lee, and a scoreless third period meant the game would go to overtime. Two minutes into the extra session, Ivan Borisov drove to the net and slid the puck to Dylan Cornatzer, who snuck a sharp-angle shot past the goaltender for his first goal with the team and the overtime winner.
On Sunday, the Premier team held its home-opener against the Union Jr. Thunder, an expansion team playing its first-ever game. The 87’s proved to be an un-welcoming opponent, cruising to an 11-1 victory. Returning forward Shay Keating scored twice, and rookie forward Dominik Wiatrowski picked up the hat trick that included two shorthanded goals.
Following the game, Keating spoke about the team’s hot start and how the lines seem to have clicked right from the get-go.
“I think it’s just our guys going hard, putting pucks on net and just finishing really well. We’ve got a lot of chemistry right now and we’re just going to feed off that,” Keating said.
Both teams will head to the first EHL showcase of the year in Worcester, MA, and each team will play three games each.
Friday Sept 23: 87’s vs. Express Hockey Club – 4:10 p.m.
Saturday Sept 24: 87’s vs. Vermont Lumberjacks – 11:00 a.m.
Sunday Sept 25: 87’s vs. New England Wolves – 2:00 p.m.
Friday Sept 23: 87’s vs. Seahawks Hockey Club – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday Sept 24: 87’s vs. New Hampshire Avalanche – 10:00 a.m.
Sunday Sept 25: 87’s vs. Valley Jr. Warriors – 10:10 a.m.
The New Jersey 87’s are proud to announce that Devlin O’Kane has committed to play Division III hockey at SUNY Cortland for the 2022-2023 season.
O’Kane, a 20-year-old forward from Chicago, Illinois, played for the 87’s EHL team in the 2021-22 season. He recorded 35 points (16g, 19a) in 36 regular-season games while notching eight points (4g, 4a) in nine postseason games.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about O’Kane coming into the organization thanks in part to former players, and how the Chicago native ended up becoming one of the top contributors offensively.
"Devlin came to us on a recommendation of fellow players that really spoke about who he was as a person first, and they thought he would be a good fit and we fell in love with that,” Houli said. “He came to New Jersey and worked his tail off. He was a very hard worker who bought in to everything we did, wanted to do it the right way and gradually his game kept getting better, and by the end of the year he was a dominant force on the ice. When the puck was on his stick, any time he had a chance to shoot the puck, there was a chance of it going in. He was very dynamic in that sense and he's ready for the college game, maturity-wise, physically, everything you want to be ready for when going to college, he has now."
SUNY Cortland is a Division III program located in Cortland, New York. Competing in the SUNY Athletic Conference, the Red Dragons are led by head coach Joe Cardarelli.
O’Kane spoke about his commitment, and how it added to an already exceptional season by winning the EHL title earlier this spring.
“I feel like it couldn't have summed up the season we had any better,” O’Kane said. “With everything that group went through and winning the championship, it felt very rewarding to end on a note like that. Now I get to follow that up by playing college hockey in the fall.”
As the season progressed, O’Kane became one of the more feared goal scorers in the league. He finished the regular season with an eight-game point streak and recorded 19 of his 35 points in the final 13 games. In the first round of the postseason, he put up six points (4g, 2a) in a two-game sweep over the Protec Jr. Ducks.
“We're super excited to see him move on,” Houli added. “Obviously we're sad to see him go a year early, but we're still excited to see him start his college career and we think he's going to have a great career there. We can't wait to see what he can do."
While the Chicago native only played one season with the 87’s, O’Kane gave the team credit for getting him ready for the NCAA level.
“Coach Houli helped break bad habits and harped on the little things, so that kind of stuck with me throughout the year. With all the film we watched and the specific on-ice stuff we did, it definitely helped with my development,” he said.
The 87’s organization would like to congratulate Devlin and his family as he advances his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.