The New England Wolves finished the the round robin of the EHL Frozen Finals with a perfect 2-0 record after defeating the Walpole Express 2-0.
Declan House and Jack Bortle scored the goals, while Trevor Joule finished the game with a 29-save shutout, as the Wolves have now won their third consecutive playoff game.
Both teams had already advanced to the semi-finals prior to this matchup, but Wolves head coach Tim Kunes said he was happy to see his team come away with the win.
“Any time we’re in a game situation, we want to try to win the game,” Kunes said. “Obviously, you don’t want any players hurt or suspended from the game, so we try to control it as much as we can. It’s a good result that we set out what we wanted to do prior to the game.”
The Wolves struck first on a power-play goal by House. The defenseman took a wrist shot from the blue line that went through traffic and went over the shoulder of Express goaltender Scott Bird.
Bortle doubled the lead with a short-handed goal in the 2nd period. Right off the face-off, he chased after a loose puck and picked it up right around the hash marks. He went upstairs on the backhand for his first goal of the postseason.
House spoke about the Wolves’ special teams and the impact it had in their win over the Express.
“We practiced it all the time, we executed the things that coach told us to do, so it worked out for us,” House said.
Trevor Joule was sharp in his first start of the postseason, picking up 29 saves for the shutout. Not long after House’s goal, he stopped a shot from the high slot by Express forward Jake Lincourt, then denied Ryan Green at the top of the crease off the rebound.
He also made a couple of great saves on the leading scorer of the Express, Justin Guelph. In the 2nd period, Guelph dangled between two defenders, went to the forehand on a breakaway, but Joule made the save. When the Express put out the extra attacker late in the third, Joule made a great stick save on a one-timer by Justin Guelph in the closing seconds to preserve the shutout.
Kunes spoke highly of Joule’s performance after the game.
“Trevor has been a good player for us this season and also a great teammate. The guys played hard for him and Trevor was excellent,” he said.
In addition to winning its third straight playoff game, the Wolves will head into the semi-final off a solid shutout performance. Kunes noted how important it was for his team to finish the round robin and head into that semi-final matchup with a 2-0 record.
“It’s part of why you want to win every game,” Kunes said. “Play the right way, the guys feel good about themselves, feel some confidence, and we hope to keep that going for tomorrow.”
The Railers Jr. Hockey Club won its final round robin game with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey 87’s.
Connor Chesner scored a power-play goal that turned out to be the game-winner, one of three goals the Railers scored in the final period of play.
Following a relatively tame Express-Wolves game, the 87’s and Railers looked the complete opposite, fast-paced and physical with a fair share of penalties on both sides.
While the Railers pulled through to get the win, head coach Sean Bertoni felt it was a sloppy performance with plenty to improve on.
“It wasn’t our best effort, they’re a very-well coached team and a very good team,” Bertoni said. “First period we were physical, we had a little bit of energy, but that energy dropped a little bit in the second and third. We pulled away, the power play goals were nice to execute, but it was a sloppy game.”
Mike DiMascolo opened the scoring for the Railers with a power-play goal in the 1st period. He snapped a quick shot from the right face-off dot that went over the blocker of goaltender Jeremy Connor.
The 87’s tied the game in the 2nd period as Robbie Seewagen notched his fourth goal of the playoffs. Ben Gibbons threw a puck towards the net from the goal line, and as Railers goaltender Cam Carroll made a stick save, the rebound went right to Seewagen where he buried the rebound.
The pace picked up in the 3rd period, as the Railers scored on a two-on-one rush to take a 2-1 lead. Matt Pimental made a seam pass right to Connor Donovan, who snapped a shot high blocker side to make it a 2-1 game. Just 54 seconds later, a puck popped from the corner boards right to Matt Zdanowicz in front of the Railers goal, as he lofted a backhander upstairs.
Worcester went to the power-play soon after, and Connor Chesner carried the puck from the corner, cut to the middle and snapped a shot blocker side to give the Railers a 3-2 lead. Jack Lee later iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute, securing the Railers’ 4-2 victory.
“I felt like we were jumping a little bit, I know that our team could play better, we kind of faded off on the systems a little bit but it was definitely one of our more physical games throughout the year,” Chesner said of the win. “I feel like we’re hitting our stride and we want to just keep going in the semi-finals.”
Carroll finished the game with 21 saves out of the 23 he faced. In the 1st period he stopped Douglas McGuire as he made a power move to the net, and kept the puck out on an ensuing scramble. In the 2nd period he made a great save on Jason Atkinson as he ripped a one-timer from the low slot.
Bertoni gave credit to Carroll and the depth of his roster to scrap their way to a win.
“We have depth and we expect all 25 to step up when their name is called. We built the team that way and we’re happy for Cam [Carroll], we weren’t very good in front of him, so he made some key stops which was nice, and it was great for him to get the win.”
For Chesner, he believes the momentum from this win should help the Railers in their upcoming semi-final matchup against the Walpole Express.
“Even though the first two seeds were eliminated, we knew this game was a must-win for us because we wanted to just keep going with this momentum throughout this tournament, and I feel like we got that done today,” he said. “We’re ready for the Express tomorrow.”
Anthony Di Paolo covers the EHL for HNIB and can be followed on Twitter @DiPaolo_016
Anthony Di Paolo has spent the last four seasons with the New Jersey 87's organization. Anthony's familiarity with the junior hockey landscape at the Tier II and Tier III levels will help him dive right into covering the EHL.
Anthony will cover our league showcases and events, as well as write weekly features and player spotlights throughout the 2021-22 season.