The 87's had its first big weekend in Middletown with four games between the EHL and Premier Division teams on Saturday and Sunday. It didn't go exactly as planned, as the Boston Jr. Rangers took three out of the four games.
EHL Premier: 87's snap three-game win streak, drop both games to Jr. Rangers
The Premier team came into the weekend against the Jr. Rangers with a 3-0-0 record but would eventually get swept by the defending champions. Saturday's game proved to be a tight one, and the 87's arguably outplayed the Jr. Rangers by throwing 39 shots on goal over the course of the game. Rangers' goaltender Bobby McCloskey was up to the task as he turned away all 39 shots en route to a shutout. Levi Hensley and Matt McPherson's goals in the second period proved to be the difference, and former NHL forward Keith Aucoin picked up his first win as a head coach.
Head coach Adam Houli spoke about the strong effort from the Premier team despite their struggles of putting the puck in the net.
"We put up a lot of shots, but again, we just got to find a way to bury pucks, and that's something we're going to work on this week in practice," he said. "To be able to generate that many shots against a team like that, the offense will come. We have to continue to trust the process here and know that our goals will come, but to keep generating those kind of shots is the biggest factor and we'll get it done."
Sunday's game had a similar start with a scoreless first period and the 87's holding a 9-7 shot advantage over the Jr. Rangers. The game soured quickly for the 87's, however, when Boston scored 57 seconds into the middle frame. By the end of the period, the Jr. Rangers had a 4-0 lead. They tacked on three more goals in the third period before Joe Minio scored twice for the 87's in a span of 1:22. Matt Orlando capped off the Rangers' strong offensive output with his third goal of the game at 15:15, helping his team to an 8-2 victory and weekend sweep.
When asked about the loss of momentum in the second period, Houli attributed it to inexperience.
"The second you take your foot off the gas, they're going to keep coming. It's a good learning day for us; not happy with the weekend and the results, but at the end of the day we have to grow and learn from it and we'll make our adjustments moving forward.
EHL: 87's, Jr. Rangers split weekend series
The EHL team secured the 87's lone win last weekend, defeating the Jr. Rangers by a score of 4-2. Cam Lindsay opened the scoring at 1:46 of the second period when he tapped in a setup from Jake Ondrejko at the doorstep. Austin Bell doubled the lead with a breakaway goal, slipping a shot under the pads of Rangers' goaltender Ben Parker.
Trent Shanley and Zach Tarantino added goals in the third period to stave off a comeback effort from the Rangers, and improved its record to 2-1-0. Dalton Jerzak stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced to pick up the win.
The Jr. Rangers were able to bounce back the following day. Andrew Keith opened the scoring in the first period when he knocked down a saucer pass in front of the 87's goal and slid a shot underneath Jerzak's stick. In the second period, Shanley scored his second goal of the weekend to tie the score at one, but Keith scored again to retake the lead for Boston.
Erik Nilsson and Keith struck twice in a span of 3:58 to put the Rangers up 4-1. The 87's were unable to mount a comeback effort until the final two minutes of the period. Tim Lazouski notched a pair of power-play goals, but his second tally came with three seconds remaining in the game. Houli spoke about the weekend split and late-game effort from his EHL squad.
"We got a little stretched out at times and that's what really cost us," Houli said. "We had a good battle back which we can hopefully build upon going further into the year, but overall we had a chance to get four points and we walked away with two."
Both teams will play on the road this weekend, here's a rundown of the EHL and Premier team's upcoming schedules:
Sunday Sept. 30 @ Walpole Express 1:30 p.m.
Monday Oct. 1 @ Connecticut Chiefs 2:30 p.m.
Saturday Sept. 29 @ Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 8:00 p.m.
Sunday Sept. 30 @ Central Penn Panthers 4:00 p.m.
Tag(s): In the News