For the second time in three seasons, the New Jersey 87’s EHLP team has reached the Frozen Finals and will compete for a championship.
Last week the 87’s swept the Pennsylvania Huntsmen in two games and improved their playoff record to 4-0. Game 1 took place at Jersey Shore Arena on St. Patrick’s Day, and Pennsylvania opened the scoring about eight minutes into the first period.
The 87’s responded with two goals in a span of 19 seconds, first on a goal by Zach Gruber on a wrist shot from the left wing. Nick Liantonio gave the team a 2-1 lead as the scored from the right faceoff circle for his first goal of the postseason.
The Huntsmen tied things up late in the first period, but the 87’s scored one goal in the second and one more in the third to walk away with the 4-2 victory. Robert Calice corralled a rebound in the second, and Vasily Vasin completed a great passing play for a power-play goal in the third.
On Saturday, the series went to Power Play Rinks where the 87’s came out strong in the first period. Tyler Branish scored twice in the first period on shots from the point that weaved their way through traffic. The Huntsmen scored two goals early in the middle period, but the 87’s responded with three unanswered goals from Vasin, Ethan Paligo and Gruber. Calice scored a power-play goal in the third period, rounding out a 6-3 victory.
This is the second time in franchise history the 87’s are competing in the EHLP Frozen Finals, the first time being their championship run back in 2021 in West Chester, PA. This will be the first time the 87’s Premier team will be playing at Schneider Arena on the campus of Providence College.
New Jersey will play three round robin games from Thursday to Saturday as they face the Boston Jr. Rangers, Railers Jr. Hockey Club and New Hampshire Avalanche. If the 87’s qualify for the championship game, that will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Thursday March 23: vs. Boston Jr. Rangers – 8:00 p.m.
Friday March 24: vs. Railers Jr. Hockey Club – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday March 25: vs. New Hampshire Avalanche – 2:00 p.m.
Photo Credit: Pauls Pics NJ (Twitter: @PaulsPicsNJ)
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