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Express Knock-Off Railers to Reach Championship Sunday

By Anthony Di Paolo - HNIB Beat Writer, 04/02/22, 11:00PM EDT


Walpole Set to Face New Jersey Seeking First EHL Title

PROVIDENCE, RI -- The Walpole Express will play in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) Championship Game for the first time, as they defeat the Worcester Jr. Railers by a score of 3-1 on Saturday night.

Out of the three goals Walpole scored, two of them came from defenseman with Alex Raketich and Jerrett Overland finding the back of the net. Jack Boschert stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced, as the Express will advance to Championship Sunday to face the New Jersey 87’s.

“It’s exciting, all the work that the guys have put in all season long and it comes down to one game, it’s exciting for our players and we look forward to it,” said Express head coach Josh Holstrom on his team advancing to the championship game.

Out of Boschert’s 22 saves, his best one came early in the 2nd period when Railers forward Jonathan Heise controlled a rebound and had a wide-open net to shoot at, only for Boschert to reach back towards the goal with his stick and bat the puck out of mid-air. 

“That’s a game changer right there,” Holmstrom said of Boschert’s save. “That one stays out of the net and we go down and we end up scoring later on in the power-play there. He’s been great all playoffs, all season long.”

The 1st period was scoreless, largely due to the Railers’ penalty killing and its goaltending from Stefan Kulhanek. The Railers took four penalties in the opening frame, including two penalties at the same time to give Walpole a five-on-three power play for two minutes.

Alex Raketich finally broke through on the power-play early in the 2nd period as he launched a slap shot from the blue line that went under the blocker of Kulhanek for his first goal of the postseason.

Holmstrom gave credit to his power-play units for sticking to the game plan after struggling in the 1st period.

“We just tried to stay composed with it, obviously it gets a little frustrating when you get that many chances but we kind of stayed with the structure on it and finally we got a big goal,” he said.

Jerrett Overland doubled the lead early in the 3rd period and picked up his third goal of the Frozen Finals. Dalton Garcia jammed on the breaks near the half-wall and found Overland in the high slot, where he hammered a one-timer past Kulhanek to put the Express up 2-0.

As the Railers pulled Kulhanek for the extra attacker, Alex Pratt managed to seal the game with an empty-net goal as he chased down a loose puck and buried his third goal of the postseason.

Matt Pimental scored in the final minutes of regulation for the Railers, but the damage was done and the Express finished the game with a 3-1 victory.

Out of the five goals Walpole scored over its first three games of the Frozen Finals, four of those goals came from defenseman, including three from Overland. He spoke about the team’s ability to generate offense from the blue line. 

“Coach [Holmstrom] really just likes us to jump in the play, and he gives us all the ability we want, and we know that we have good enough forwards and good enough skating to the point where we can jump up and if we make a mistake, we do have the ability to get back,” Overland said.

This is the first time the Walpole Express will play in the EHL Championship Game, and as they get ready for Championship Sunday against the New Jersey 87’s. Overland said his team will be up to the task.

“We celebrated for about 30 seconds and now we’re moving on and turning the page, we’re really dialing it in for the championship game,” Overland said. 

For a complete schedule of the EHL Frozen Finals, you can check out the official Frozen Finals hub on the league website. 

Anthony Di Paolo

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.