WORCESTER, MA -- With the 2022-23 Eastern Hockey League season underway, it also means the return of the showcase series. The first one, located at the Jr. Railers’ Worcester Ice Center, will begin on Thursday and run through Sunday.
This upcoming showcase will feature a league-record 50 games between the 19 teams in the EHL and 15 teams in the Premier Division. As the teams head to Worcester, some of them will be starting their season, while others got a few games under their belt this past week.
Here are some matchups and storylines to look for this weekend.
Last season ended with the New Jersey 87’s defeating the Walpole Express 2-0 in the championship game. Those teams will face each other again on Friday at 4:10 p.m., and while the stakes won’t be as high as April’s matchup, it is still shaping up to be a great game. New Jersey won its first two games of the season with a 3-1 win over New York Apple Core and 2-1 victory over Team Maryland. Meanwhile the Express Hockey Club started its season with a 4-1 victory over the Railers Jr. Hockey Club, as returning goaltender Jack Boschert made 39 saves on 40 shots.The 87’s will also face their opponent from last year’s semi-final as they go up against the New England Wolves on Sunday. Coming into the showcase, New England is off to a 2-0-0 start with a 3-0 win over the Seacoast Spartans and 5-0 win over the Express. Returning forward Edijs Grigorjevs notched three assists in his first two games, and players like defenseman Nick Demio and forward Mathias Charlet have also started the season strong offensively.
It’s a season of firsts for five teams, and all of them will be at the Worcester Showcase. Both EHL teams—HC Rhode Island and Philadelphia Hockey Club—have already earned their first wins and will be two teams to watch out for this weekend. HC Rhode Island earned a pair of victories against the East Coast Wizards by scores of 2-1 and 5-4. Oliver King is the first player to reach three goals this season, and Alex Bauvais has three points (2g, 1a) including the overtime winner in their 5-4 victory. This week they will face the Boston Jr. Rangers, Seahawks Hockey Club and the Wolves.
Philadelphia Hockey Club will come into the showcase with a 1-0-1 record following a 4-3 shootout loss and 7-1 victory, both against the Protec Jr. Ducks. They already have three forwards with three points, including Justin Nakagawa (2g, 1a), Ethan Byrne (1g, 2a) and 17-year-old Kayden Suy (1g, 2a). Their next three games are against the Seahawks, Vermont Lumberjacks and Railers.
All three expansion teams in the Premier Division are looking for their first win. The Pennsylvania Huntsmen will play its first-ever game on Saturday against the New England Wolves, followed by a double-header on Sunday against the Lumberjacks and Express. The Adirondack Jr. Thunder will face the Seahawks, Jr. Rangers and Wolves, while Union Jr. Thunder will go up against Railers, Express and Jr. Rangers.
Eight teams will be starting their 2022-23 campaign at Worcester Ice Center. Most notably, the reigning EHLP champion Boston Jr. Rangers will get the showcase started on Thursday with a 10 a.m. matchup against the Connecticut Chiefs.
Seth Gustin will also make his EHL coaching debut for the Lumberjacks this weekend, after leading Vermont’s EHLP team to the Frozen Finals in his first year as a head coach.
There will be no shortage of action with 50 games slated over the weekend, and every game will be available to watch on hockeytv.com.
Anthony Di Paolo covers the EHL for HNIB and can be followed on Twitter @DiPaolo_016
Anthony Di Paolo has spent the last five 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 2022-23 season.
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