BOSTON, MA -- We're counting down the final handful of days that remain on the 2022-23 Regular Season schedule in both the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP).
Below you'll find the 23rd set of weekly top performers for the 2022-23 season. The forward and defensemen awards are presented by Verbero Hockey, while the goalie honors come courtesy of Vaughn Custom Sports.
The EHL is pleased to announce that Daniel McKiernan (New Hampshire Avalanche), Kieran Chung (Connecticut RoughRiders), and Kyle Spann (New Jersey 87's) have been named the Top Performers for Week #23.
McKiernan and the Avalanche won two of their three games this past week, en route to securing the franchise's first-ever Regular Season Championship in the EHL. As for the '03 native of Weston, CT, McKiernan collected back-to-back three point efforts in the first two games of the week, including the winning goal in each contest. The solid performance gave McKiernan an even 29 goals and 29 assists for the season, all while having played in all 46 games for the Avalanche.
The Rookie of the Year candidate didn't show any signs of youth throughout his first and only season of junior hockey, as he's committed to Suffolk University for this upcoming fall. Coming up next for McKiernan and the Avalanche is a First Round playoff series against the Vermont Lumberjacks, as New Hampshire seeks it's 5th appearance at the EHL Frozen Finals. However, the journey will not be easy for the Avs, as they look to break the "curse" that no EHL team has ever won both the Regular Season Championship and the Playoff Championship in the same year.
Moving back to the blue line, and while it was an up-and-down week for the RoughRiders, it wasn't due to any lack of effort from Chung. The '04 second-year defenseman from England finished the three-game stretch for Connecticut with five points on a goal and four assists. For the season, Chung now has 41 points in 43 total games to date, and he's already surpassed the total he posted throughout the entire 2021-22 campaign (36 points in 41 games).
Chung and the RoughRiders would line up in the Central Division Play-In Game if the standings finalized the way they stand right now, However, Connecticut has a pair of games left this week against the New York Apple Core and HC Rhode Island to try and improve on their position. If Chung and the RoughRiders can win both games and get a little bit of extra help along the way, they can climb their way up into the #3 seed in their division.
Speaking of division races, the South Division title will be decided later today when Spann and the 87's travel to take on the Protec Jr. Ducks for the second time in six days. This past Thursday, Spann anchored his team to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Ducks, setting the stage for today's matchup. Simply put, the winner of today's contest will secure the #1 seed in the South in the upcoming EHL Playoffs.
As for the '03 native of Lok, MO, the 33-save performance helped improve Spann's record up to 13-7-3 for the season, to go along with a 1.89 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Toss in the four shutouts that Spann has collected as well, and it's no surprise that the first-year netminder is a candidate for this season's Rookie of the Year award. Today's matchup in Morristown, NJ is scheduled for a 12:00 pm start and can be streamed live on HockeyTV.
The EHLP is pleased to announce that Myles Kidd (Railers Jr. Hockey Club), Ryan Sember (New England Wolves), and Jason LoRicco (New Jersey 87's have been named the Top Performers for Week #23.
Kidd and the Railers swept their pair of games this past weekend, knocking off the Boston Jr. Rangers by the score of 2-1 on Friday night, and then following that up with a 3-1 victory over the Connecticut Chiefs on Saturday. The '04 native of Norwood, MA scored in both contests, while collecting four total points to his credit. For the season, Kidd now has 29 points in 27 total games to date, and the Railers have officially locked themselves in as the #2 seed in the upcoming Boston Division Playoffs.
Speaking of the postseason, the #3 seed is official as well, as Kidd and the Railers are set to face-off against the Valley Jr. Warriors in the First Round. The Railers won four of the five matchups against the Warriors so far this year, but we'll hit the ice against them one more time this upcoming Saturday in Worcester. A victory in the upcoming First Round will put the Railers in their Division's finals for the third straight season.
Another week, another honor for Sember, who is turning heads around the league this season. The '06 native of Webster, NY collected five more assists to his credit this past week, increasing his point total up to 36 for the year. Also, the split of their two-game series with the New Hampshire Avalanche was huge for Sember as it secured New England the #3 seed in upcoming playoffs.
While both the Wolves and Avalanche have one game left on their schedule (against each other on Thursday), and theoretically the two rivals could finish the season tied in total points, it's the Wolves who own the tie-breaker in that scenario. Therefore, as the #3 seed, the Wolves will wait to see if their First Round opponent will either be the Adirondack Jr. Thunder or the Vermont Lumberjacks.
Keeping with the trend of discussion regarding playoff seeding, LoRicco and the 87's officially locked up the #1 seed in their division this past week, after shutting out the Pennsylvania Huntsmen by the score of 4-0 on Saturday. The win gives the '04 native of Hillsborough, NJ four straight victories, as he improves his record up to 12-2-1 for the season, to go along with a 2.29 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Also, it's important to note that LoRicco's second shutout of the season, combined with the four he posted last year, gives him six total over the course of his EHLP career. The six shutouts puts him in a tie at the top of the list for all-time shutouts in the EHLP.
As the #1 seed in the Mid-Atlantic Division Playoffs, New Jersey will take on the winner of the Play-In Game. While the Union Jr. Thunder are locked into the Play-In Game, their future opponent is still to be determined between the New Jersey Renegades and the Philadelphia Little Flyers.