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EHL team clinches with 5-3 win over Applecore

By Anthony Di Paolo, 02/23/19, 11:15AM EST


EHL team earns first-round bye while Premier team drops close-game against Little Flyers

The New Jersey 87's EHL team clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs with a 5-3 road win over New York Applecore. Meanwhile the Premier team snapped a three-game winning streak in a 3-2 loss against the Philadelphia Little Flyers on Sunday.


EHL: 87's clinch division in its inaugural season

Last Saturday, the 87's traveled to Brewster, N.Y. for one final regular-season contest against New York Applecore. Yuli Lima opened the scoring at 8:55 and started a tug-of-war battle where each team alternated with goals. Jack McDonough responded for the 87's at 11:57, while Gunnar Stadem gave Applecore a 2-1 lead at 13:51. Zach Egber knotted the score at two with just three seconds remaining in the period.

Connor Sullivan scored the lone goal in the second period, giving Applecore a 3-2 lead, but New Jersey responded with three unanswered goals in the third period. Zach Tarantino and Tim DeBord scored 22 seconds apart early in the period, and Joe Collins added a shorthanded empty netter with 36 seconds left in regulation. 

The win lifted the 87's record to 31-9-0 and helped them clinch the first seed in the North Division of the Mid-Atlantic Conference. New Jersey will get a bye in the first round of the EHL playoffs, and head coach Adam Houli spoke about this feat in the EHL team's inaugural season.

"It's been a long year and the guys worked hard the entire season. It's a testament to how difficult it is, going all the way to the end of the season and clinching, and that's what they did last Saturday," Houli said. "It's awesome for the organization and great for the players, and now we start to focus on fine-tuning our play as we head into the playoffs and see what we can do to get ourselves to Providence."


DeBord scores twice in NAHL debut

This past Friday, Tim DeBord was called up to the 87's Tier II affiliate New Jersey Titans for a road game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. DeBord, who has 37 points in 38 games with the 87's, scored twice in the second period to help the Titans erase a 3-0 deficit. While the team ultimately lost 5-3, Titans head coach Craig Doremus was pleased with DeBord's performance.

"Tim and his linemates were great for us especially in the second period. Tim took the first to get settled in, but then his game really came along," Doremus said. "They fed off his strong play and it was huge in our comeback effort."


Premier team edged by Little Flyers in 3-2 defeat

The 87's Premier team carried a three-game winning streak into last Sunday's contest against the Little Flyers. Philadelphia opened the scoring with a power-play goal from Johnny Scarduzio, but the 87's responded quickly with a power-play goal of their own. Ryan Clear slid a pass to Payton Jones in the slot, where he buried his 14th goal of the season.

After a scoreless second period, Tom Swartwout gave New Jersey the lead about halfway into the third period. Things fell about late in the period, however, when Austin Mazzulo and Samuel Clapinson scored for the Little Flyers in the final 2:50 of the game. Both goals were off net-mouth scrambles, and Clapinson's go-ahead tally came with 31 seconds left in the game. 

Houli expressed his disappointment in the loss, which was a missed opportunity in gaining ground on the first-place Little Flyers.

"I didn't think our play was very good after the first period, I thought we got sucked into a slower style game that we need to be faster with, and I think it showed," Houli said. "They take two points away from you, an important two late in the season, and that's the frustrating part."

The game featured a combined 138 penalty minutes, including game misconducts to 87's forward Simon Fitzgerald and Little Flyers' defenseman Steve Rubillo. Houli spoke about the physicality between the two teams, who will face off in Middletown again this Sunday.

"It's becoming quite the rivalry in both levels. But in the Premier Division, both games are quite intense, and it'll be interesting to see what happens the next game and whether or not we can match the intensity, but in the right way this time," he said.


Look ahead:


Saturday Feb 23: vs. New England Wolves - 8:00 p.m.

Sunday Feb 24: vs. Valley Jr. Warriors - 3:10 p.m.



Saturday Feb 23: vs. Philadelphia Jr. Flyers - 4:50 p.m.

Sunday Feb 24: vs. Philadelphia Little Flyers - 6:30 p.m.