The New Jersey 87's Premier Division team rang in the new year with two wins over the New Jersey Renegades, defeating their intra-state rival by scores of 9-0 and 7-2 on Friday and Saturday nights respectively. With the weekend sweep, the Premier team also extended its winning streak to nine games.
Friday's contest took place at Aspen Ice as both teams were set to return from the holiday break. The 87's wasted no time picking up where they left off by scoring three goals in each period. Ivan Borisov recorded five points (2g, 3a) while Hugh McGuigan and Luke Satkowski also scored two goals each. Special teams were critical for the 87's as they went 3-for-4 on the power play and killed off all six of their penalties. Matt Corella made 17 saves for the Premier team's first shutout of the season.
Despite their setback, the Renegades came out much stronger in Saturday night's contest at Jersey Shore Arena. Renegades goaltender Joey Jamison stopped all 25 shots he faced in the first period, and David Renzulli scored twice in the second to give his team a 2-0 lead. The 87's bounced back less than a minute after Renzulli's second goal, as Hugh McGuigan cashed in on a three-on-one rush. Nick Mulder evened the score at 14:10 of the period, ringing a shot off the post and in for his first goal as an 87. Just 32 seconds later, Michael LoRicco scored on a breakaway to give his team a 3-2 lead. The 87's turned up the pressure in the third period, getting goals from Andrew Walsh, McGuigan, Luke Satkowski and Ben Peiffer. Cole Moore--who was sidelined for nearly two months with an injury-- finished the night with 16 saves to earn the win in his first start since Oct 31.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about the Premier team's win on Saturday, and their ability to stay focused after giving the first two goals.
"At this level even taking a minute or a shift off can result in a goal, and we were able to see that on Saturday night. At the same time we were also able to see that when we play shift after shift we can generate quite a few goals and play well. We are working as a team to continue to mature as we are a very young junior hockey team. The more games that force us to be better can only benefit us in the long run," Houli said.
Over the holiday break, several teams in the Eastern Hockey League had relocated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those teams were the Connecticut Chiefs, who are now the Western Massachusetts Chiefs. Their relocation means the South Division only consists of the 87's, Renegades and Philadelphia Little Flyers. The 87's Premier team has 15 games remaining in the regular season, and Houli talked about the impact of playing against two different teams for most of the season.
"I think it’s going to create some intense rivalries but I also think it’s going to create some unique opportunities. We want to establish our goal as being number one in the South Division but at the same time building towards the playoffs. It becomes difficult in a three team division however we don’t have the time to worry about things we can’t control," he said.
-Aidan Foca and Nick Mulder both scored their first career goals with the team over the weekend. Foca scored in Friday's contest while Mulder picked up his on Saturday.
-Hugh McGuigan had a particularly good weekend, racking up four goals and five points in the weekend sweep over the Renegades.
-The EHL team will finally return to action this week. As of this writing, the EHL franchise has 87 regular season wins, matching the team name.
Wednesday Jan 13: vs. Protec Jr Ducks - 12:00 p.m.
Friday Jan 15: vs. Connecticut RoughRiders - 12:30 p.m.
Friday Jan 15: at Philadelphia Little Flyers - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday Jan 16: at New Jersey Renegades - 7:10 p.m.
Photo Credit: Richard O'Donnell
Tag(s): In the News