Middletown, NJ – Following up a successful open to the Spring and Summer season in the World Selects Invitational, the 87s Spring and Summer Program, NorthStar Elite Hockey ventured out to Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Spring Invitational.
Teams competed at the following levels in Pittsburgh for NorthStar Elite: 2005 Green and Black, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 at the fantastic UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the RMU Island Sports Center, the Alpha Ice Complex, and the Baierl Ice Complex.
When the dust cleared, the program was able to claim their first two tournament Championships in Pittsburgh with the 2006 and 2007 teams who each finished 6-0 over the course of the weekend. In addition to these Championships, the 2005 Green and Black teams each made the Semifinals as well as the 2009 team. The 2008 team played three fantastic games and was close the whole weekend, while the 2010 team got a nice introduction to the level of play and was very competitive all weekend.
The 2007s used strong defense, goaltending, and unselfish and opportunistic offense to find their best stride midway through the tournament en route to a decisive 7-4 win in the Finals over SHD Midwest. The 2006s used depth on the back end and some timely goals to ultimately prove to be the most consistent team at the 06 level all weekend and capped it off with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Vengeance in the Finals.
The two finals on Sunday capped off a great weekend of hockey for the program and its staff, as well for the players who represented eight different states this weekend and got the Summer off to a fantastic start. We look forward to getting back on the ice at our Training Camps and at NAPS Buffalo, NAPS Beantown, and the Big Apple with these groups.
The New Jersey 87's are excited to announce that Jake Ondrejko has committed to play Division III hockey at Western New England University for the 2019-2020 season.
Ondrejko is a 20-year-old forward from Scenery Hill, Penn. and spent two seasons with the 87's. In the 2017-18 season, Ondrejko recorded 29 points (8g, 21a) in 43 games with the Premier team. In the 2018-19 campaign, he recorded 23 points (5g, 18a) in 39 games with the EHL team in its inaugural season.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about Ondrejko, who was among the first bunch of players to join the organization since its inception in 2017, and how he worked his way up the ranks before earning the NCAA commitment.
"Jake came to us and spent a year in the EHL Premier Division, then moved up with us to the EHL, so for us this one was personal and it certainly was a huge sign of his improvement and dedication to trust the process with us," Houli said. "He's going to be a phenomenal get for Western New England both on and off the ice as a student and player."
Western New England University is a Division III school located in Springfield, Mass. and competes in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Golden Bears are led by head coach Greg Heffernan.
"It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m going to be playing college hockey," Ondrejko said of his commitment. "That was my goal when I set out to play juniors, and I’m really excited to be at Western New England. Their coaching staff is great and I’m really looking forward to playing for them the next four years."
Ondrejko also spoke about his time with the 87's and his development he went through in his two seasons with the team.
"I definitely left the 87’s as a much better hockey player than when I arrived. Coach Houli and Matty (Kiernan) really helped me develop my game over the past two years," he said. "They preached getting to the next level and paying attention to the small details. I am very thankful for the opportunity Houli and Matty gave me, and for helping me reach my goal of playing college hockey."
The 87's organization would like to congratulate Jake and his family on his accomplishment, and we look forward to following his hockey career at the Division III collegiate level.
The New Jersey 87's are proud to announce that Dalton Jerzak has committed to play Division III hockey at SUNY Fredonia for the 2019-2020 season.
Jerzak is a 19-year-old goaltender from Rochester, N.Y. and served as the starter for the 87's EHL team in its inaugural season. Appearing in 29 contests in the 2018-19 season, Jerzak finished with a record of 20-9-0 while posting a .905 save percentage and 2.83 goals against average.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about Jerzak's commitment and what he meant to the team as their starting goaltender.
"Dalton came to us as a first year junior player who had a clear vision of what he wanted and how he wanted to do it. He worked tirelessly throughout the season to improve his game every day and I am excited that he will be playing at the next level," Houli said. "He can steal a hockey game and that will be a huge characteristic to take to college. I wish him the best and I am excited to watch him play."
SUNY Fredonia is a Division III school located in Fredonia, N.Y. and competes in the State University of New York Athletic Conference. The Blue Devils are currently led by head coach Jeff Meredith. Jerzak spoke about his commitment and what it means to join a program such as Fredonia.
"To go to a program that has a winning culture with great coaching is huge. The guys in that locker room expect to win and would do anything for each other, and I consider that important and somewhere I really want to be," Jerzak said. "It’s an awesome opportunity for me to develop and grow as a person on and off the ice which I’m excited for. Especially in a competitive conference such as the SUNYAC, it really is a dream come true."
Since his arrival to Middletown, Jerzak earned his role as the number one goaltender for the 87's EHL team and led the team to an impressive inaugural season. On top of his accomplishments at the Tier III level, Jerzak often practiced with the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League and picked up a victory in his debut with the team. He spoke about his development with the 87's over the course of the season and the opportunities that came from the team's affiliation with the Titans.
"I was glad to be a part of the inaugural season for the 87’s we had a special group of guys that really cared about each other. Ultimately we feel short of a championship but had a lot of guys move up into the NAHL and land a lot of collegiate commitments which is something to say about opportunity within the program.
I think personal it was a year where I learned a lot about myself as a player. I faced some adversity about finding my game and playing at the highest level I could, but ultimately I was just really thankful for the opportunity that both Craig (Doremus) and Houli gave me, they believed in me and gave me an opportunity in my first year of juniors. For a young guy that really has a lasting impact and I will forever remember my time in New Jersey and will be thankful."
The 87's would like to congratulate Dalton and his family as he prepares to advance his hockey career to the Division III collegiate level.