Boston, MA- The Eastern Junior Hockey League is approaching the final month of the regular season, and though the Jersey Hitmen have locked up the Southern Division crown, the North is experiencing a logjam for the two playoff byes.
The Hitmen entered the weekend needing only one point to clinch the South and ended up taking four in a sweep of the Bay State Breakers. Saturday's game saw the Hitmen's potent offense take over, while Sunday's game, a 4-3 overtime contest, featured a 65-save performance by Breakers goalie Greg Ogard.
In the North, the division-leading Junior Bruins went 3-for-4. After dropping a 6-5 decision to the Boston Bandits on Wednesday, the Bruins returned home and downed the Rochester Stars 4-3 in overtime. The Bruins then headed to Maine for a pair with the Pirates and took Saturday's game 3-1 and Sunday's contest 5-3.
After the Bruins game, Rochester continued north to Hooksett, NH, and left with a two-game sweep over the Monarchs.
Prior to the series with Rochester, the Monarchs downed the Valley Jr. Warriors 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday and beat the Bandits 2-1 on Friday.
Valley rebounded from the loss to the Monarchs with back-to-back shutouts over the Philadelphia Revolution. Brendan Leahy was in net for both games, making 14 saves in a 2-0 win on Saturday and 49 saves in a 4-0 win on Sunday.
The Islanders and Apple Core played to a split in Brewster with the Islanders taking the opener and Apple Core picking up the victory on Sunday.
The Springfield Pics took two of their three games last week. A visit to Foxboro resulted in a 2-1 win for the Pics thanks to Austin Orszulak's goal with 2:01 remaining. Springfield fell on Saturday to the Connecticut Oilers 3-1, but rebounded on Sunday with a 4-1 win over the Bandits.
WEEKEND PREVIEW: The Islanders host the Portland Jr. Pirates at 1:00 PM on Thursday and the Junior Bruins on Saturday at 1:30 before traveling to Marlboro for a rematch with the Bruins on Wednesday at 1:30. The Monarchs host the Bandits on Friday at 7:30 PM and the Pirates for a weekend series. The Oilers host Philadelphia on Friday at 8 PM and Rochester for two over the weekend. Philadelphia continues their road trip with a pair in Brewster, NY, against Apple Core. Valley plays at Bay State on Saturday night, returns home to face the Junior Bruins on Sunday at 1:10 PM, and finishes with a Wednesday afternoon tilt with the Bandits in Bridgewater. The Pics host South Shore on Saturday evening and Bay State at 12:20 PM on Sunday. All games will be broadcast on FastHockey.com.
COLLEGE COMMITMENT: Tanner Creel of the Jersey Hitmen will play at West Point next season.
ALUMNI UPDATE: Matt Anderson (New England Jr. Coyotes) made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Jon Swavely (University of Maine/ Jersey Hitmen) was named Hockey East Co-Player of the Week. Sam Marotta (Merrimack College/ South Shore Kings), Steve Morra (Northeastern University/ Junior Bruins), Joe Pendenza (UMASS- Lowell/ Bruins), and Trevor vanRiemsdyk (University of New Hampshire/ New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs) were named to the Top Performers List. Joe Zarbo (Clarkson University/ Bruins) was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week. Jeff Ryan (Brown University/ Bruins) was also nominated. Jimmy Vesey (Harvard University/ South Shore Kings) was named ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week. Steve Miller (Canisius College/ Monarchs) was named to the Atlantic Hockey Weekly Honor Roll.
EJHL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player of the Week
Oliver Lindholm (Rochester Stars)
Oliver made a statement last weekend, scoring four goals and adding three assists in the Stars' three games. He scored twice and contributed a helper in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Junior Bruins on Friday. On Saturday, Oliver recorded an assist in a win over the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and finished on Sunday with another two-goal and one-assist performance against the Monarchs. The Gvle, Sweden, native is a product of the Bryns Ice Hockey Club.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Black (Jersey Hitmen)
Defensive Player of the Week
Brendan Leahy (Valley Jr. Warriors) 63 saves, 2 shutouts
Brendan registered two shutout victories en route to a weekend sweep of the Philadelphia Revolution. After turning away 14 shots on Saturday, Leahy recorded 49 saves on Sunday to help his team secure the 4-0 win over the Revolution. In 26 games this season, Leahy has posted 12 wins, 2.24 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He hails from Reading, MA.
Honorable Mention: Chris Funkey (Jersey Hitmen)
Rookie of the Week
Will Massey (Rochester Stars)
Will had an outstanding weekend in Rochester's three games, stopping 96 out of 104 shots he faced. He turned away 25 shots in an overtime loss to the Junior Bruins on Friday. Saturday saw Will make 44 saves in the series opener against the Monarchs and he followed that up on Sunday by stopping 19 of 20 shots. The Penfield, NY, native has a 2.99 goals against average and a .908 save percentage this season.
Honorable Mention: Eric Sade (Jersey Hitmen), Jake Schechter (Valley Jr. Warriors)
-Mike Klein, 30 January 2013