BOSTON, MA -- One of the most exciting things about college sports is an upset, and the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) All-Stars did that over the weekend as they defeated Nazareth College, 4-3, in a shootout.
It was the second time an EHL All-Star team defeated a Division III program, and was the highlight for the league between the three-game series, as New England Wolves goaltender Trevor Joule made some incredible saves late in the game and in the shootout, and Seacoast Spartans and New Jersey 87’s forwards William Pray and Aleks Gamzatov both scored in the shootout to lead the All-Stars to its second-ever win over a college team.
In addition to Friday night’s win, the main All-Star team lost the following day to SUNY Brockport by a score of 7-3, and the South Division All-Stars took Lebanon Valley College to overtime in a 5-4 defeat.
Friday’s matchup against Nazareth at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex turned out be a tug-of-war battle, as the Golden Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 1st period. The All-Stars responded with a goal from Connecticut Chiefs forward Hunter Rossi as he wired a wrist shot from the high slot to even the score.
Nazareth took the lead late in the 1st period, but the All-Stars scored again in the 2nd period on a bank shot from East Coast Wizards' forward George Kolovos. He slid a centering pass towards the front of the goal, and banked it off a Nazareth defender and into the net to make it 2-2. The All-Stars scored again in the 3rd period on a power-play, as Spartans' forward Kenny Maxwell fired a wrist shot from the blue line that found twine, giving his team a 3-2 lead.
The Golden Flyers tied the game later in the 3rd period, sending the contest into overtime. Both teams had a few chances in the extra session, but it remained a 3-3 hockey game and the two coaches, Adam Houli for the EHL and George Roll for Nazareth, mutually agreed to take the game into a shootout.
Neither team scored in the opening round, but the Golden Flyers pulled ahead in the 2nd round as former Wizard Ryan Turse scored, and put the EHL team on the brink heading into round three. Pray kept the shootout alive, however, as he snapped a shot high-glove side.
As the shootout went into the 4th round, Trevor Joule made the save of the night on Nazareth forward Logan Tobias. The freshman forward faked the shot and went to the backhand, and Joule reached back with his glove and made a sprawling save at the goal line. Aleks Gamzatov then scored on a back-hand to forehand move right after Joule’s save, and the Wolves netminder made one last stop to complete the upset.
Joule spoke about the team’s confidence heading into their matchup against Nazareth.
“We were confident," said Joule. "We went into the game thinking that we could beat these guys. They were in our position just one, two, or three years ago, so we thought, ‘look, we’re just going to go out there and play our best game,’ and we knew that we could come away with a victory.”
He also discussed the sprawling glove save he made in the shootout.
“It was desperation, you try to stay with the guy as long as you can and he was very patient. I kind of made the first move which is not what you want to do, but I was just trying to stick with it, that’s all,” added Joule.
On Saturday, Kolovos and Pray found the back of the net once again, while Wolves forward Edijs Grigorjevs also scored in the All-Stars 7-3 loss to SUNY Brockport at Wegman’s Ice Arena.
Railers Jr. Hockey Club goaltender Stefan Kulhanek stopped all 15 shots he faced in the opening period, but the Golden Eagles scored four goals in the 2nd and two more in the 3rd to take a 6-1 lead. Pray and Grigorjevs scored 1:35 apart in the 3rd period as the All-Stars tried to crawl their way back into the game, but SUNY Brockport iced the contest with an empty-net goal.
Later that Saturday night, the EHL South Division All-Stars took on Lebanon Valley College at Hersheypark Arena. The Flying Dutchmen scored in the 1st and 2nd period to jump to a 2-0 lead, and the All-Stars finally got on the board midway through the game as Philadelphia Hockey Club (PHC) forward Ethan Byrne scored on a wrister from the top of the circles.
Lebanon Valley struck again late in the 2nd period and came into the 3rd with a 3-1 lead. PHC defensemen Tommy Madden cut the deficit early in the 3rd as he stepped over the blue line and flung a wrist shot off the cross bar and in.
Former New Hampshire Avalanche forward Rais Francis scored next on a power-play for Lebanon Valley, as they took a 4-2 lead with 5:44 left in regulation. The South Division All-Stars, however, roared back in the final 2:01 of the period. They cut the deficit to 4-3 on the power-play as PHC forward Quinn Murphy banged home a rebound at the edge of the crease, also marking the third goal from a player representing PHC.
With about a minute remaining in the 3rd, the All-Stars pulled the goalie for an extra attacker. New Jersey 87’s forward Kyle Folkerson lobbed a puck in the air towards the net, and Patrick DeMarinis—also from the 87’s—redirected the puck from the hash marks and past the goaltender to even the score. The comeback fell short though, as Stefan Lakoseljac netted the overtime-winning goal for the Flying Dutchmen.
This year’s college series marked the second time the EHL defeated one college while taking another program past regulation. In 2019, the EHL All-Stars defeated Salem State College 5-1, and tied Fitchburg State University by a score of 1-1.
This year also marked the first time the EHL sent a single division to face a college program, and it could possibly set a precedent in the coming years that will lead to an expanded college showcase weekend.
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.