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Tay-King Care of Business

By Anthony Di Paolo - HNIB Beat Writer, 03/28/24, 2:15PM EDT


Rangers return to EHL championship game with 6-1 win over Avs

Providence, RI -- The Boston Jr. Rangers advance to the Eastern Hockey League championship game with a 4-1 victory over the New Hampshire Avalanche.

In the deciding Game 3 of the semifinals, Tay Melis and Bradley McMains led the team offensively with two goals each as the Rangers will play in the championship game for a second straight year and third time in four years.

The game turned on its head in the second period when the Avalanche had a goal overturned, and the Rangers scored two goals in a span of 29 seconds to take a two-goal lead.

Rangers head coach Rich DeCaprio spoke about the momentum swing and how his team responded after the challenge.

“It’s something that happens a lot when we play the Avalanche, I don’t know why, but it’s about staying in the middle, staying composed and not getting excited or down if things don’t go your way,” DeCaprio said. “And when they’re reviewing plays, I tell them on the bench that no matter which way it goes, it’s whatever. Just be ready to go and respond accordingly.”

Robert Martiniello opened the scoring for the Avalanche with a power-play goal 4:10 into the first period. He ripped a one-timer from the top of the point for his second goal of the postseason.

The Rangers evened the score two minutes and 23 seconds later with a goal from Bradley McMains. His initial shot was kicked away by Avalanche goaltender Sam Boos, and McMains followed up with a bank-shot from below the goal line that went off Boos and into the net.

Things got crazy early in the second period when it appeared Jake Hines gave the Avs a 2-1 lead. His initial shot was stopped by Rangers’ goaltender Ayden Pierce, and the rebound popped up in the air where Hines batted the puck into the net. After review, it was determined that Hines made contact with the puck above the crossbar, and the call was overturned.

About 20 seconds later, Melis found a rebound in front of the Avs’ goal and slid a shot five-hole as he was falling to the ice, giving Boston a 2-1 lead. Shortly after, Jake Pullen skated down the right wing and snapped a five-hole shot to make it 3-1.

Melis spoke about the team’s mindset and how they were able to take control of the game in the second period.

“We were just as confident as the first game, we were never nervous, we just tried to stick to our systems and play our best hockey,” Melis said. “We’re probably the tightest group in the league and that’s how we win games. When things get tough, we just stick to our system and be positive.”

Boston never looked back at that point. Melis made it 4-1 midway through the third period as Kaleb Miller pushed the puck forward off the draw and slid a cross-crease pass to Melis for the easy tap-in. It was his second of the game and seventh of the postseason.

Bret Beale scored to extend the lead to 5-1 with 3:43 left in regulation, streaking down the left wing and firing a wrist shot glove side. Bradley McMains snapped a wrister from the low slot in the final minute of play for his second of the game and capped the scoring at 6-1.

“I love playing with those guys, it’s fun playing with them and every time they touch the puck, I know that something is going to happen. Every time I touch the puck I know where they’re going to be,” Melis said of his linemates.

Ayden Pierce finished the game with 22 saves on 23 shots, and his best save came with 1:40 left in the second period. Hines was driving to the net as he caught a seam pass and went to the backhand, but Pierce pushed across and made a stop with the left pad.

DeCaprio reflected on the semifinal matchup against the Avs, and what it means to see his players battle their way back to the championship game.

“These guys have battled all year. For me it’s fun, but it’s more fun to see the players experience that. This group has really come together since January, they really started to mesh well and I’m very happy for them,” DeCaprio said.

The championship game will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Rangers will face the winner of Game 3 between the Railers Jr. Hockey Club and Philadelphia Little Flyers.

Anthony Di Paolo

Anthony Di Paolo covers the EHL for HNIB and can be followed on Twitter @DiPaolo_016

Anthony Di Paolo has been working in various levels of hockey over the last five years, ranging from juniors to the pros. Di Paolo spent four seasons as the Communications Director and play-by-play announcer for the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League (2016-2020), and is entering his fifth season in a similar role with the New Jersey 87’s of the Eastern Hockey League. Graduating from Seton Hall University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, the New Jersey native covered Division I athletics for his school’s radio station, WSOU, and spent two years writing for the Fischler Report, a newsletter run by U.S. Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee Stan Fischler. In addition to writing features and player spotlights throughout the season, Anthony is a fixture on the weekly #EShow podcast.