PROVIDENCE, RI -- The New Hampshire Avalanche defeated the Philadelphia Little Flyers by a score of 5-1, taking Game 1 in the best-of-three semifinal series.
New Hampshire scored four goals in the first period with two of them coming from Kyle Dann. Shane Peremba made 27 saves on 28 shots as the Avalanche are now one win away from Championship Sunday.
Mike Santonelli opened the scoring just 2:23 into the first period, as a shot from the blue line deflected off a defender and got by Little Flyers goaltender Louis Finnegan.
Dann doubled the lead five minutes later, as he swooped around the net and scored on a wraparound for his fifth goal of the postseason. His second of the game came later in the period, as he ripped home a one-timer after Aaron Racino toe-dragged around a defender and slipped a pass right to Dann.
Avalanche head coach Chris Cerrella talked about his team’s quick start and being able to jump to a 4-0 lead.
“I think we came out strong, we said to our guys ‘we need to emphasize speed, pushing the pace, managing the puck and getting on the board early.’ They played on Monday, I believe, so we wanted to take advantage of that and figured they might have some tired legs and we got lucky by having a great start.”
Gavin Havens made it 4-0 on a beautiful passing play, as Mattingly Wierl entered the zone in a 3-on-2 rush and made a cross-ice pass to Daniel McKiernan, who then made a one-touch pass right to Havens for an easy tap-in goal.
Havens spoke about the play and his on-ice chemistry with McKiernan and Wierl.
“It felt like practice, we do those 3-on-2 rushes a lot,” he said. “Ever since I got here I’ve been with Mattingly, and Daniel I’ve played with my entire senior year at Williston (Northampton School), and coach Cerrella has allowed us to build chemistry which has been big for us.”
Later in the third period, Evan Victor capitalized on a Flyers turnover right in front of their own net, and Victor chopped it over the glove of Finnegan to make it 5-0.
The Little Flyers would eventually end Paremba’s shutout bid when Koby Howat corralled a loose puck between the hash marks and fired a wrister off the crossbar and in. That goal came on the power play, making it Philadelphia’s ninth power-play goal of the postseason.
Following the 5-1 victory, Cerrella talked more about Dann, who now has 11 points (6g, 5a) in six games this postseason, and 18 points (12g, 6a) in the last two playoffs with the Avs’ EHL team.
“Kyle Dann is just a competitor, he’s a warrior. He’s one of my favorite players that have come through the program, he was with the Avs for a long time starting at u14 and hit every level,” Cerrella said. “He’s a Division I skater, and I think that’s the biggest thing and that’s where he’s a threat, and I think he’s going to be an unbelievable Division III college hockey player for Albertus Magnus.”
Despite the four-goal difference, the Little Flyers responded well after the first period and forced Peremba to make some tough saves.
Cerrella noted the Little Flyers’ improved play and expects a much closer Game 2 on Thursday.
“For them it’s do-or-die, for us we win and move on. I think it’s going to be an even better game tomorrow, though I think today was still a very good game,” he said. “They came back strong, they played us tough and finished checks and did a lot of good things. For tomorrow, we need to get some rest, hydrate and get ready for another battle, because that’s what it’s going to be.”
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.