PROVIDENCE, RI -- The New Hampshire Avalanche are heading to Championship Sunday as they defeat the Philadelphia Little Flyers 6-5 in Game 2 of the semifinals.
Daniel McKiernan picked up the hat trick, but Chris Hibson and Robert Martinello stole the show as they scored two goals in a span of 27 seconds late in the third period, sending the Avalanche to Championship Sunday for the second time in three seasons.
Martiniello’s winning goal came with 2:53 left in regulation when he walked into the offensive zone and fired a shot over the blocker of Flyers’ goaltender Louis Finnegan.
“We just gained a lot of momentum getting back with that quick goal (from Hibson), my defensive partner won a battle in the corner, I was just able to pick the puck up, had some ice and took it, found a shot and it just happened to go in,” Martiniello said of his goal.
Daniel McKiernan opened the scoring for the Avalanche just 1:36 into the game as he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and had a partial breakaway, snapping a shot stick side past Louis Finnegan.
His second goal also came on a breakaway, off another neutral zone turnover by the Little Flyers and McKiernan went to the forehand to make it 3-3 with 2:19 left in the second. He completed the hat trick in the third period as he corralled a pass in the slot and went bar-down, cutting the Avs’ deficit to 5-4.
“My linemates helped me out a ton today, we just wanted to get it done in two games, go back, have a day off and not really have to worry about it, and get prepared for Sunday,” McKiernan said of his hat trick.
He also spoke about the Avs’ comeback in the third period, and the team’s ability to score timely goals, “We always know we’re capable of mounting any comeback. There was never a moment on our bench where we didn’t believe that we could score two quick ones, we’ve done it before. We just had to keep everybody up and really just fight for the cause,” McKiernan said.
The biggest momentum swing came late in the third period when the Little Flyers were up 5-4. Tristan D’Elia and Cristo Walker connected on a give-and-go, and Peremba went into the splits to rob D’Elia with a right pad save. Just a few minutes later, Chris Hibson deflected a point shot from Patrick McKiernan to tie the game, and then Martiniello scored the go-ahead goal 27 seconds later.
Avalanche head coach Chris Cerrella talked about his team’s effort and the save from Peremba right before the two goals.
“The Little Flyers did a great job today, they did a great job yesterday too and today they took it to us pretty good, and we just kept responding. It was a back-and-forth battle, and we’ve played the Little Flyers almost every year in the finals, and it was just another great game between two very good teams,” Cerrella said. “We told Moose to keep making those saves that you need to make and we’ll do the rest.”
Connor Hagness scored in the second period on a sharp-angle shot that went over the glove of Finnegan. Between his goal and the ones from Hibson and Martiniello, Cerrella cited the depth of his team and how it’s a big reason why his team will be competing for the championship on Sunday.
“We believe in depth, we’ve got a lot of good depth players and I think that’s why we get to these points every year,” Cerrella said. “They might not always be on the scoresheet, but guys like Chris Hibson and Connor Hagness get huge goals too. Scoring goals, it doesn’t make you a hockey player, we have a lot of three-zone guys, so it’s been a great dynamic, this is a great hockey team and whatever happens on Sunday, I can’t be more proud.”
The Avalanche will face the winner of Game 3 between the Boston Jr. Rangers and Railers Jr. Hockey Club on Friday.
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.