Boston, MA- The Eastern Junior Hockey League's playoff races are heating up and while the division leaders have some breathing room, one weekend can turn the middle of the pack upside down.
The South Shore Kings took advantage of four games last week and built a commanding 12-point lead in the South over the second-place Jersey Hitmen. The Kings started off with a 5-4 win over Bay State in a contest that was not settled until the final minute of regulation. On Friday, they bested the Monarchs 5-4 and followed that with a two-game sweep of Apple Core.
The Hitmen, however, did their part to keep pace with the Kings by beating the Capital District Selects on Wednesday and taking both games of their series with the Springfield Pics.
The Junior Bruins opened up a six-point cushion over the Monarchs thanks to two wins over Capital District. Saturday's contest saw Capital District lead late in the third before K.J. Tiefenwerth tied the game in the final minute and the Bruins won in the shootout. On Sunday, Thane Heller and Mike Weaver each turned in three-point games to lead the Bruins to victory.
The Green Mountain Glades had an excellent week, starting with Kollyn Jones' 42-save shutout over the Monarchs on Wednesday. Evan Schlutz provided the heroics with 49 seconds remaining to give the Glades a 3-2 win over the Huskies on Saturday, and Green Mountain completed the sweep on Sunday to rise to fourth in the Northern Division.
In their other action, the Monarchs snapped Valley's winning streak on Saturday night.
The Philadelphia Revolution started off the week with a 3-1 win over Apple Core but fell to Bay State in both of their contests.
Rochester closed in on the Huskies with a two-game sweep of the Boston Bandits, winning 5-3 on Saturday and 2-1 on Sunday thanks to Matt Esposito's goal with 1:55 left in overtime.
WEEKEND PREVIEW: Rochester and Springfield kick off the weekend in Friday with a 7:30 PM tilt in Springfield. The Stars then travel to Albany for a weekend series with Capital District. Springfield travels to Long Island for a pair with Apple Core. Bay State hosts the Jersey Hitmen for two games in Kingston, MA. The Valley Jr. Warriors will play two against the Revolution in Philadelphia over the weekend and then travel to Marlboro to play the Junior Bruins on Wednesday at 8:50 PM. The Monarchs and Glades have a two-game rematch in Vermont, and the Huskies host the Boston Bandits on Sunday at 4:30 PM. All games will be broadcast on FastHockey.com
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Boston Bandits captain Matt Solomon will play for Sacred Heart in the fall. Steven Swavely of the Hitmen has committed to the University of Maine. Steve Miller will suit up for Canisius College next season. The South Shore Kings' Mike Reardon will be a Bentley University Falcon and teammate Dean Niezgoda will attend Norwich University.
ALUMNI UPDATE: Matt Mangene (University of Maine/ New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs) was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week. Barry Almeida (Boston College/ Springfield Pics), Doug Carr (UMASS-Lowell/ South Shore Kings), Joey Diamond (Maine/ New York Apple Core), Brian Dumoulin (BC/ Monarchs), John Heffernan (Merrimack College/ Boston Bandits), Brett Leonard (University of Vermont/ Green Mountain Glades), and Adam Shemansky (Maine/ Monarchs) were named to the Top Performers List. Chris Wagner (Colgate University/ Kings) was nominated for ECAC Hockey Player of the Week. Chris Noonan (Niagara University/ Syracuse Stars) and Brooks Ostergard (Robert Morris University/ Bay State Breakers were named to the Atlantic Hockey honor roll. Connor Knapp (Miami University/ Junior Bruins) was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player of the Week
Jim Vesey (South Shore Kings)
Jimmy was outstanding in the Kings' four games last week, potting eight goals and adding four assists. He started off with a hat trick and an assist in the 5-4 win over Bay State last Wednesday. On Friday against the Monarchs, he netted the game winner and added an assist, a feat he would duplicate on Saturday against Apple Core. On Sunday, he registered another hat trick along with an assist. The Harvard recruit hails from North Reading, MA, and is making a run at the EJHL's single-season scoring record.
Honorable Mention: Matt Vidal (Bay State Breakers), James Poston (Rochester Stars), Connor Gorman (New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs), Jack Riley (Jersey Hitmen)
Defensive Player of the Week
Kollyn Jones (Green Mountain Glades)
Kollyn Jones was a brick wall for the Glades, stopping 117 shots and allowing only three goals in three games last week. In Wednesday's tilt against the Monarchs, Jones posted a shutout turning away all 42 shots. He turned away 39 shots in a 4-2 win in Friday's tilt with the Huskies. He then followed up on Sunday, picking up the win while stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced. Kollyn is a native of Cazenovia, NY.
Honorable Mention: Zach Andrews (New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs), Mike Reardon (South Shore Kings), Cody von Reuden (Jersey Hitmen), Josh Opladen (Rochester Stars)
Rookie of the Week
Jack Barre (Jersey Hitmen)
Jack Barre had an excellent week posting, a 3-5-8 scoring line in three games. The Dartmouth recruit scored a goal on Friday and then went on a five-point outburst on Saturday, netting two goals and recording three assists. He finished with two assists on Sunday. Jack is a native of Southport, CT.
Honorable Mention: Nick Bligh (South Shore Kings), Josh Opladen (Rochester Stars)