The 87's Premier team swept the Philadelphia Revolution in a best of three series and will move on to the Conference Final where they will face the Philadelphia Little Flyers. The EHL team, meanwhile, is coming off its bye week and will face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in their Conference Final.
Swartwout scores five goals in Premier team's sweep
It was the second consecutive year the Premier team faced off against the Revolution in the first round of the playoffs. Instead of a winner-take-all game, however, it was a best of three series, and the Revolution had home-ice advantage. Game 1 took place on Friday, and Philadelphia jumped to a 1-0 lead late in the first period. The 87's responded in the second period with goals from Brad Heuer and Simon Fitzgerald, and the team never looked back.
New Jersey added three more goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period, coming off the sticks of Payton Jones, Joe Guercio and Tom Swartwout. Gusso and Coleman Peppelman responded with two goals for the Revolution in a span of 3:55, but Swartwout restored a three-goal lead at 17:39 of the third with his second goal of the game, sealing the 87's 6-3 victory.
The following night, Philadelphia once again jumped to a 1-0, this time on a goal from Matt Meli at 2:08 of the second period. Payton Jones and Tom Swartwout scored for the 87's, but a goal by Jared Wagenmann in between made it a 2-2 game heading into the third period.
The 87's started the final period with a five-minute power play when Tucker Hammer was given a major for checking from behind. Swartwout took advantage and scored his second goal of the night at 2:26. He completed the hat trick with nine minutes remaining in the game, and Matt Wong extended the lead with a tap-in at 14:46. The Revolution scored two more goals in the final three minutes, but it was too little, too late as the 87's clinched the series with a 5-4 win.
Up next, the 87's Premier team will face the Philadelphia Little Flyers in the Conference Final. New Jersey has a regular-season record of 2-3-1 against the Flyers, but the final two losses against them came without leading scorer Brad Heuer as well as Simon Fitzgerald. Games 1 and 2 will take place on Wednesday and Thursday night at the IceWorks Skating Complex in Philadelphia, and a Game 3 will take place in Middletown if necessary.
EHL team set to face the Knights
The 87's EHL team spent its bye week practicing and preparing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, who defeated the New York Applecore in the first round. New Jersey has a 3-2 mark against the Knights in the regular season, though the 87's lost the final two matches. In their penultimate game of the regular season, Anthony Starzi scored four goals as the Knights rolled past the 87's in Middletown. Games 1 and 2 will take place on Thursday and Friday at Middletown Sports Complex.
Game 1 vs. WBS Knights: Thursday March 14 - 2:00 p.m.
Game 2 vs. WBS Knights: Friday March 15 - 8:15 p.m.
*Game 3 @ WBS Knights: Sunday March 17 - 5:00 p.m.
Game 1 @ Little Flyers: Wednesday March 13 - 7:45 p.m.
Game 2 @ Little Flyers: Thursday March 14 - 7:30 p.m.
*Game 3 vs. Little Flyers: Sunday March 17 - 8:00 p.m.
Photo Credit: Rich O'Donnell
The New Jersey 87's EHL and Premier teams have concluded their regular seasons and will get ready for the EHL Frozen Finals, while attempting to punch their tickets into the final tournament in Providence, Rhode Island. While the EHL squad lost its final two games of the season, the Premier team is entering the postseason with a three-game winning streak.
EHL team secures OT win prior to dropping last two games
The final week for the EHL team started off strong with an overtime win against the Philadelphia Revolution. Jack McDonough opened the scoring late in the first period with a power-play goal, but the Revolution responded with a goal in the second period and one at the start of the third. New Jersey managed to come back, however, as Trevor Cear managed to even the score at two with about 12 minutes remaining in the third period, and Jack Keryluk scored the overtime winner when he slammed in his own rebound.
Things took a rather tumultuous turn on Thursday when they faced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. Daniels Leja scored a pair of goals while Jack Lane added one more to give the 87's a 3-2 lead after two periods. The 87's took a penalty 16 seconds into the third period, and the Knights converted 34 seconds later. It marked the beginning of a six-goal barrage for the Knights, as they walked away with an 8-3 victory. Anthony Starzi finished the game with four goals.
The final game of the regular season took place on Monday when New Jersey faced the New Hampshire Avalanche. The top team in the New England Conference jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and added another goal in the second. New Jersey managed to score twice in the second period with goals from Andrew Maynard and Alex Borowiec, and the team spent most of the third period looking for the tying goal. The Avalanche would ultimately hang on for the win, but head coach Adam Houli said he was pleased with his team's effort against one of the top teams in the league.
"Effort-wise it was a good response to a disappointing Wilkes game, and then coming back playing against the best team in the league, in my opinion. It was a good effort, obviously we didn't come out on top, but it was an effort that we needed to make sure we still had it in us as we prepare for the playoff series that we'll host in a week and a half," Houli said.
The EHL team has a bye-week for the first round and could face either the Knights, Philadelphia Revolution or Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in the second round.
Premier team wins three straight to close regular season
Two out of the three final games for the Premier team took place in Flemington when the 87's faced the New Jersey Renegades. On Tuesday, the 87's found themselves trailing 3-2 late in the game, and with the goalie pulled, Payton Jones rang a shot off the post and in to knot the score. In overtime, Brad Heuer took a shot that trickled by Renegades goaltender Jake Lakatos, and Tom Swartwout knocked the puck over the goal line to secure the win.
Saturday's contest against the Renegades was more decisive. After the score was evened at two early in the second period, the 87's put up four unanswered goals and cruised to a 6-2 victory. Defensemen Sean Carver and Christian Cabal each recorded a goal and two assists while Jeremy Connor stopped 30 shots in the win.
On Tuesday, the Premier team closed out the regular season against the Philadelphia Revolution, a matchup that will preview the first round of the playoffs. The 87's jumped to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, and would end up running away with an 8-3 victory by the end of the game. Tom Swartwout scored a hat trick to finish the regular season with 32 goals while Brad Heuer recorded a goal and two assists.
Houli spoke about the Premier team ending the season with three consecutive wins, and how that will translate to a first-round matchup against the Revolution in a best-of-three series.
"Those guys battled all year. We experienced a lot of highs, a lot of lows, and it was good to set us up for the playoffs and finish strong," Houli said. "It was a good game to get us ready for Friday night, but the playoffs are a whole different ballgame. Nonetheless are guys are excited and ready to get going on our trek to Providence."
EHL: Bye-week in the first round. Second round schedule TBD.
Game 1: Friday March 8: @ Philadelphia Revolution - 7:00 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday March 9: @ Philadelphia Revolution - 3:00 p.m.
*Game 3: Monday March 11: vs. Philadelphia Revolution - 8:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: Rich O'Donnell
The New Jersey 87's are proud to announce that EHL forward Jack McDonough has committed to play Division III hockey at Manhattanville College for the 2019-2020 season.
McDonough is a native of Doylestown, Penn. and is playing in his first season with the 87's. Serving as the captain of the EHL team, McDonough has 11 goals and 22 assists in 41 games in the 2018-19 campaign.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about McDonough, who played the 2017-18 season with the New Hampshire Avalanche before coming to New Jersey, and the leadership he exhibited throughout the year that earned him the 'C' on his sweater.
"He's had a tremendous amount of growth over the season. He was a guy that we traded for when we started the EHL team because we needed a veteran presence," Houli said. "He wasn't named captain until a month ago, but led all year. He's strong off the ice, he holds guys to high standards and on the ice he's a commander out there. Frankly the commitment is well deserved, it's something we expected and we're glad it came to fruition."
Manhattanville College is a Division III school located in Purchase, N.Y. Led by head coach Arlen Marshall, the Valiants compete in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference. McDonough spoke about the commitment and what factored in his decision to choose Manhattanville.
"It's honestly amazing to finally commit to an NCAA program. It's really big for me and my family and I couldn't be more excited. I visited the campus and it was beautiful. I love the team culture and the way they play, and hopefully they'll get it done in the UCHC championships this weekend."
The 20-year-old forward has played for various teams and leagues that include the North American Hockey League, but he talked about the 87's and how it helped him prepare for the NCAA level.
"This year has been surreal. Credit where credit is due, coach Houli and coach Kiernan have really created a culture here that is just built for success, they give us every resource possible to develop and get to that next level."
The 87's organization would like to congratulate Jack and his family on his commitment as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division III level.