The New Jersey 87's EHL and Premier teams resumed their seasons after the holiday break, highlighted by a series split with the Philadelphia Revolution and a 5-4 victory over New York Applecore at Middletown Sports Complex.
EHL gets swept by Wizards, bounces back to beat Apple Core
The EHL team started out the calendar year on the road to face the East Coast Wizards in Bedford, Massachusetts. It was the first-ever meeting between the two teams, and both games went down to the wire. On Friday, the Wizards jumped to a 3-1 lead by the end of the second period. Geoff LaMorre scored his sixth goal of the season 1:30 into the third period, but the 87's were unable to produce a tying goal. An empty netter allowed the Wizards to walk away with a 4-2 victory.
The following afternoon, James Nash scored 15:46 into the first period, and it was all the Wizards needed to complete the sweep. Korbinian Lutz had a stellar performance with a 32-save shutout, and Augie Burkhardt sealed the game with an empty netter.
"Friday was a tough game for us. We came out and weathered the storm in the first, but weren't able to overcome their attack," said 87's head coach Adam Houli. "On Saturday we really had no excuse not to play well. We played okay, but when we play better teams, we need to be stronger on pucks."
New Jersey bounced back on Wednesday afternoon when they faced New York Apple Core at Middletown Sports Complex. Jack Lane (1g, 2a) and Zach Tarantino (2g, 1a) led the 87's offense with three points each, while Trent Shanley and Zach Egber also scored in the 5-4 victory. After the game, Houli spoke about the chemistry between Lane and Tarantino, who have worked on a line together throughout the season.
"Those guys are kinda like Frick and Frack there, they march to their own beat and they know what the other one is always doing. It's a credit to them and their friendship, when you play with someone you've known for a while, it translates in the game," Houli said. "When they put two and two together, they can be very scary to play against and they can be dynamite for our team."
Tarantino spoke about the chemistry with Lane and also gave credit to newcomer Daniels Leja.
"The last couple of games were kind of rough, but Lane and I seemed to have found our connection again. When we added Leja, we're gelling together and playing well," Tarantino said. "Leja is one of the top guys in the league and it's great to have him. You always need to get used to having a new linemate, but I can tell we're getting there and we're going to explode for the rest of the season."
Premier team splits a back-to-back vs. Revolution
The 87's Premier team started out 2019 with two road games against the Philadelphia Revolution. The first game took place on Saturday, and Philadelphia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period. Undeterred, the 87's scored six unanswered goals in the final two periods and cruised to a 6-2 victory. Brad Heuer (2g, 1a), Tom Swartwout (1g, 1a), Joe Guercio (1g, 1a) and Sean Carver (2a) had multi-point performances, and Luke Satkowski scored a beautiful goal by making a toe-drag around a defenseman before going high-blocker side on a wrist shot. Jeremy Connor finished the day with 18 saves on 20 shots.
On Sunday, the Revolution jumped out to another 2-0 lead. Payton Jones scored early in the second period, but Philadelphia responded with three more goals to take a 5-1 lead. Preston Lee picked up his second goal of the season at 19:57 of the second period, starting a comeback effort that would carry over into the third period. Kurt Kroeper and Brad Heuer scored 1:18 apart in the early stages of the final period, and continued to generate offensive chances in search of the tying goal. They fell just short, as Revolution goaltender Steven Glik made 27 saves to earn the win and salvage the split.
"The Premier team is a very interesting group. We played well this weekend against the Revolution. We got down in that second game, battled all the way back and showed some resilience," Houli said. "I'm excited for that team in the second half, if we can put all the pieces together we can be a scary team down the road that people will not want to play."
Leja and Dinnocenzo welcomed to the EHL roster
The EHL roster has been bolstered with some new and familiar faces. Daniels Leja was acquired by the New England Wolves, recording 42 points (12g, 30a) in 25 games before arriving to New Jersey. Meanwhile, John Dinnocenzo started his second stint with the organization. Last year he put up 12 points (4g, 8a) in 17 games with the Premier team. Houli expressed his excitement in having both players joining the roster at the halfway point in the season.
"Leja is someone who can bring it at the next level. He has produced at this level already, he's getting adjusted to our style but I'm excited for the skill set he brings," he said. "Dinnocenzo brings us that spark. He's one of my favorite type of players who plays hard, has skill and bangs bodies. He's a tremendous addition to our team right now, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do."
Keryluk, Lane and Collins make NAHL appearances
The 87's continue to see players getting called up to the North American Hockey League. Last weekend, Jack Keryluk was called up to play for the Jamestown Rebels in a matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and recorded an assist a 2-1 shootout victory. This weekend, Jack Lane and Joe Collins will play for the 87's Tier II affiliate New Jersey Titans in a two-game set against the Northeast Generals. Lane has two assists in two games with the Titans, and Collins will make his regular season debut with the team after starting out the year with them in training camp.
Sunday Jan. 13: @ Valley Jr. Warriors - 7:20 p.m.
Monday Jan. 14: @ New Hampshire Avalanche - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Jan. 12: @ Philadelphia Revolution
Photo Credit: @Circlingthwagon
Tag(s): In the News