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
Tag(s): In the News