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EHL and Premier teams open 2021-2022 season with perfect weekend

By Anthony Di Paolo, 09/21/21, 2:30PM EDT


Teams combine for a 3-0 record in opening weekend

The defending champions of the EHL Premier Division started off the season with a 2-0 weekend by defeating the Philadelphia Little Flyers 7-6 and the New Jersey Renegades 7-2, while the New Jersey 87's EHL team beat the Little Flyers 4-1 to start their season. 

Jersey Shore Arena was packed on Saturday night for the highly anticipated opening night for both teams, and the Premier team kicked things off with a dramatic, come-from-behind 7-6 win over the Little Flyers. Will O'Brien scored first for the 87's, but Philadelphia scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead.  

Patrick Olenski cut the deficit in half just eight seconds in to the middle period, but the Little Flyers scored two more quick goals, and new head coach Conall McNelis pulled starting goaltender Jason LoRicco in for Dominic Saputelli. 

The move paid off, as the 87's skaters responded with five unanswered goals, including two from Geoffery Bokor and a second goal from Olesnki en route to the victory. 

Coming off the rally on Saturday, the 87's Premier team hosted the New Jersey Renegades on Sunday afternoon. The Renegades opened the scoring with a power play goal from Jeff Quinn, but once again the 87's would respond with a flurry of goals. Jaxon Hook, Robert Calice, Caden Miller and Michael Botti contributed to a four-goal second period, while Anthony O'Brien, Alec Osher and Botti scored in the third to help the 87's cruise to a 7-2 victory. 

McNelis, who starts his new head coaching position with a 2-0 record, spoke about his initial impressions with the 87's Premier team. 

"It was a lot of fun, I think you could see the team grow over the weekend, and I feel like we have a lot of great coaches in our corner. I'm lucky to have (Adam) Houli and Matt Kiernan behind me, but our team is really starting to play with our system a little bit better today and they're coming along. A lot of work to be done, but you have to be happy with the four points and doing it in different styles," McNelis said. 

Following the Premier team's win on Saturday, the 87's EHL team took the ice for the first time as reigning regular season champions to take on the Little Flyers. New Jersey started slow in the first 20 minutes, falling behind 1-0 on a goal by Tony Andrews. Momentum shifted in the second period, however, when Chicago native Devlin O'Kane scored his first goal as an 87 at 4:15, and Hugh McGuigan potted his first EHL goal five minutes and 29 seconds later. 

O'Kane added one more goal late in the third period off a nifty saucer pass from Matt Zdanowicz, and O'Kane wired a wrist shot off the post and in the back of the net. Robbie Seewagen put the final nail in the coffin against his former team when he cleared the puck out of the zone and it rolled into the empty net, sealing a 4-1 win. 

Additional Notes 

-Robert Calice is the only returning forward on the 87's Premier team, and he's off to a great start with five points in his first two games (1g, 4a). 

-While playing an all-around solid game, the EHL team could not get its power play going on opening night. They went 0-for-7 on the man advantage in their win against the Little Flyers. 


Upcoming games 


Wednesday Sep 22: at Team Maryland - 12:00 p.m. 
Saturday Sep 25: at Protec Jr. Ducks - 7:00 p.m. 


Sunday Sep 26: vs. Connecticut Chiefs - 12:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. (doubleheader)