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18U team wins two games in first-ever showcase

By Anthony Di Paolo, 09/02/21, 10:15PM EDT


87's take two out of four games in its first youth hockey event

The New Jersey 87's organization had its first taste of youth hockey with the Eastern Exposure Series last weekend, as the 18U team finished the event with a 2-1-1 record. 

After dropping the first game to the Lebanon Hornets in a 6-1 loss, the 87's bounced back with a 6-5 win over the Palmyra Black Knights and a 7-0 victory over the Rochester Jr. Americans. The final game against Flyers Elite ended in a 3-3 tie, and the 18U head coach Matt Kiernan spoke about the significance of the team playing its first showcase in youth hockey. 

"It's an important milestone in our clubs history as we took a huge step forward in meeting our original mission statement and motivation for founding the New Jersey 87's," Kiernan said. "We appreciate the support and trust of the Eastern Exposure Series in allowing us to be a part of their inaugural event." 

The first game proved to be the toughest for the 87's. Despite outshooting the Mt. Lebanon Hornets 10-8 in the first period, they found themselves trailing 2-0 after the first period. Peter Vallebuouna managed to cut the deficit in half with a second-period goal, but the Hornets responded with four unanswered goals in the third period, walking away with a 6-1 win. 

Later that night, New Jersey went up against the Palmyra Black Knights where each team scored twice in the first period. Brady Driscoll and Brock Forrest scored in the opening stanza for the 87's, and the team responded with four more in the second period from Ivan Borisov, Zach Garnsey, Forrest and Jeremy Shandel. The Black Knights managed to close the gap with two goals in the second period and one more in the third, but the 87's managed to hang on for a 6-5 win, earning its first victory in youth hockey. 

Building off Friday's victory, the 87's had a dominant performance on Saturday against the Rochester Jr. Americans. New Jersey scored five goals in the opening period, off the sticks of Matthew Grisius, Forrest, Ben Peiffer, Luke McGee and Borisov. Forrest and Vallebuouna added goals in the second period, and goaltender Aiden Weller earned the first shutout for the 18U team by making 15 saves. 

On Sunday it appeared the 87's would make it three straight wins when they took a 3-0 lead over Flyers Elite. Keaton Richards, Aidan Thede and Patrick DeMarinis scored in the first, second and third periods respectively while the team outshot Flyers Elite 39-9 over the first two periods. However in the final 12 minutes of regulation, the Flyers were able to score three goals to even up the score and settle for a tie.  

With its first showcase in the books, the 87's will look to learn from the Eastern Exposure Series as they get ready to spring back into action this weekend. Head coach Kiernan spoke about some of the things his team needs to work on leading up to their second event. 

"We need to execute in our structure more consistently, it will come with more practice time and games but we need to get more guys on the same page. We need to reduce our unforced errors, to many giveaways and turnovers that gave our opponents momentum," Kiernan said. 

This weekend the 87's will play three games in two days as part of the BEAST Series Showcase in Boston.  


Upcoming games: 

Friday Sep 3: vs. Bridgewater Bandits - 3:40 p.m. 

Saturday Sep 4: vs. Rhode Island Hitmen - 8:30 a.m. 

Saturday Sep 4: vs. Springfield Rifles - 2:10 p.m.