MARLBOROUGH MA – The closest game of the opening round of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Elite Division National Championship tournament here saw a nice second half surge by the Jersey Hitmen fall just short as the Hampton Roads Whalers held them off for a 4-3 edge in Bracket ‘B’ play.
The other game in the bracket saw the Islanders Hockey Club open with a 9-2 cushion against the Florida Junior Blades while Bracket ‘A’ matches saw the Charlotte Rush grabbing an 8-0 shutout against the Beijing Shougang Eagles and the Boston Bandits doubled the Tampa Bay Jrs. 6-3.
Hitmen 3 at Whalers 4
The Whalers got on the board quick in this one, Gary Eastlack, 19, from Mantua, NJ fired the opening marker 59 seconds into the contest. After an early start, the Whalers added a late finish as Ryan Lorenz, 19, from Royal Palm Beach, FL added a second Whalers’ goal just two seconds from the end of the opening session.
Tianyou Zuo, 20, from Harbin, China added a little more comfort to the lead with his goal 4:15 into the second. Chris Conway, 19, from Rockaway, NJ finally got the Hitmen on the board just past the halfway mark of the middle period but Nolan Cavanagh, 18, from Chesapeake, VA restored the three-goal margin just 16 seconds later.
Eddie Dadah, 18, from Washington Twp. NJ fired a second for the Hitmen later in the period and Matt Freitas, 17, from Washingtonville, NY had them with in a shot with 71 seconds to play in the game. That was as close as the Jersey crew could get in this one though.
The back and forth contest saw teams combine for 84 shots and the goaltenders played their part: Everett Yasinski, 20, from Seattle WA turned aside 37 shots to nail down the win for the Whalers while the Hitmen split the work between Trevor Stenberg, 18, from Randolph, NY who handled 20 of 24 through the first 30:43 and Logan Beattie, 17, from Wall Twp. NJ who handled all 20 of the shots he faced.
Islanders 9 at Jr. Blades 2
The Islanders opened the tournament with a lopsided win over its Florida opponent, grabbing a 4-0 first period lead, but the Blades fired two goals in the first nine minutes of the second to make things interesting – for a while.
The Isles wrapped up the period with three goals in the final 8:37 and never looked back, piling on another two in the third for the overwhelming win.
Pacing the offense was Anthony Ceolin, 19, from Simsbury, CT with three goals and an assist, Jared Lamothe, 19, from Fort Wayne adding two goals and two set ups and Max Cole, 18, from Hudson, OH collecting two goals and a helper.
Brian Keating, 18, from Medford, MA and Mario Colosi, 18, from Greensburg, PA notched the other goals, Colosi also picking up an assist while Billy St. Amand, from Haverhill, MA, celebrated his 17th Birthday, stopping 30 shots to grab the win in goal.
For the Jr. Blades, 17, from Naples, FL and Patrick Tschernitz, 17, from Fort Myers, FL fired the goals and Cameron Lawson, 18, from Naples, FL turned aside 30 shots in goal.
Second round games in Bracket ‘B’ scheduled for later this evening will have the Hitmen looking to break into the win column against the Islanders while the Whalers take on the Jr. Blades.
Rush 8 Shougang Eagles 0
After a rough inaugural season in the Elite Division, the Eagles reached the National tournament this season, only to receive a baptism of fire from the Rush.
The Charlotte squad hit the board 50 seconds in and never stopped, piling up a 5-0 first period lead, then adding two more in the second and one down the stretch.
Julian Miranda, 18, from Salt Lake City, UT carried the hot stick in this one, scoring a pair and setting up three others for the Rush. John Barrett, 18, from Charlotte scored two and assisted on another and Shane Hemmer, 17, from Chicago, IL also scored twice. Mark Kishko, 20, from Inman, SC picked up four assists and a goal in the contest and the other goal came from Marcel Hack, 20, from Eisenstadt, Austria. Joshua Hemmer, 19, from Chicago, IL had three assists while Jimmy O’Kane, 18, from Chicago, IL and Joey Ferro, 18, from Weddington, NC collected two apiece.
Anthony Keating, 17, from Farmingville, NY stopped all 22 shots he faced to nail down the shutout win in goal and Daniel Perepezko, 19, from West Islip, NY stopped 37 shots in goal for the Eagles.
Bandits 6 Juniors 3
The Boston Bandits dominated play early in its tournament opener, turning in a 15-5 edge in shots in the opening 20 minutes which helped it carry a 3-0 cushion into the middle period.
After another goal for the Bandits 67 seconds into the second, the Juniors battled back, scoring two goals in just under four minutes to cut the margin in half.
The Bandits added one more before the end of the period and owned another lopsided margin in shots with a 16-8 edge. Both teams added one more in the final frame.
Tyler Schaeffer, 18, from Edwardsville, IL fired a pair for the Bandits in the win while Steve Gerbis, 18, from Scituate, MA, Cam Canterbury, 19, from West Chester, OH and Akhmed Maisagov, 17, from Moscow, Russia each added a goal and assist.
Tom Clancy, 19, from Weymouth, MA fired the other Bandits’ goal, Noah Clark, 19, from New Lenox, IL setting up three and Hunter Dabahneh, 17, from Phoenix, AZ helping on a pair. Jack Walsh, 17, from Oceanside, CA turned aside 17 shots to pick up the win in goal.
Zach Parker, 19, from Wesley Chapel, FL was in on all three Junior goals, scoring one and earning assists on the other two, scored by Mateusz Wawrzkiwicz, 16, from Bytom, Poland and Kyle Vargas, 18, from Lithia, FL.
Goaltending work was split for the Juniors, Daniel Kortenhaus, 18, from East Falmouth, MA stopping 12 of 16 through the first 21:07 and Perry Giannino, 20, from Wellington, FL handling 22 of 24 the rest of the way.
The four Bracket ‘A’ teams will be back tonight with the two winners – Bandits and Rush, squaring off in one while the other two – Shougang Eagles and Juniors try to break into the win column.