Hitmen bounce back for Dineen Cup berth
After dropping opener, Jersey crew rallies for 4-2 and 3-2 road wins
By Jim den Hollander
Facing elimination, the Jersey Hitmen battled back for a 4-2 win against the host Boston Jr. Bruins Saturday (March 24) and used a third period rally the following morning to capture the Best of Three series and a berth in the Dineen Cup 3-2.
All three games in the series including a 4-2 win in the opener on Friday night by the Jr. Bruins, were played at the New England Sports Center.
Hitmen 4 Bruins 2
the Hitmen went to work quickly in game two, Tyler Coffey from Hamilton, NJ and a Colorado College commit burying the first goal 4:37 into the contest. Erlends Klavins from Riga, Latvia and Brett Callahan from Westmont, IL collected assists on the goal.
The lead lasted just 44 seconds before Robby Griffin, a native of Burlington, MA already committed to Northeastern evened the score for the Bruins. Cam Boudreau from Salem, NH (Quinnipiac) and Ethan Roswell from Andover, MA (Dartmouth) had setups on the goal.
The Hitmen recaptured the lead and carried a 2-1 cushion into the middle period after a goal by Ryan Finnegan from Tecumseh, KS, also committed to Quinnipiac with 6:42 to play in the period. Tyler Colangelo from Hamden, CT set up the goal.
Connor Tait from Boyds, MD, another young star already committed to Quinnipiac, padded the Hitmen margin, firing the lone goal of the middle period, from Finnegan and Klavins at the 7:54mark.
Klavins collected his third point of the game and padded the lead with his goal 4:34 into the third from Collin Heinold, 19, from Charleston, SC and Tait 4:36 into the final period.
Riley Prattson from Windsor, CT, a Providence College commit, kept hopes alive for the Bruins, his goal with 2:54 getting the team to within a pair with assists for Alexander Peresunko from Kharkov, Ukraine and Boudreau.
That was the last shot to elude Kristofer Carlson from Centreviille, VA in the Hitmen goal as he collected his third win of the post season, stopping 33 of 35 shots. Yaniv Perets from Montreal, QC was in goal again for the Bruins, turning in a 25-save effort.
Hitmen 3 Bruins 2
The scenario on Sunday was different as it was the Bruins out of the gate first and the Hitmen not grabbing control until the final minutes in the deciding game.
Bruins carried the 2-1 cushion out of the opening segment with goals coming from Prattson, just 70 seconds into the contest and Luke Rowe, from Succasunna, NJ with a little under four minutes to play in the frame. Jonny Mulera, from Rockville, MD (Providence) set up both goals for the Bruins with other assists for Griffin and Timmy Kent, from Palm Springs, FL
In between the two Bruins’ tallies was one by Tait for the Hitmen with help from Tanner Palocsik, a Dartmouth commit from Alquippa, PA and Klavens.
Teams battled through a scoreless middle frame, despite both teams racking up their highest shot totals – a 13-10 edge for the Jr. Bruins.
Connor Quinn, a native of Sewickley, PA and already committed to Bowdoin College pulled the Hitmen even with his goal, 8:44 into the third from Klavins and Finnegan and the Hitmen grabbed its first and only lead when Daniel Winslow, another Quinnipiac commit from Fairfield, CT, found an opening with 5:37 to play from Quinn and Austin Tonkovich, a native of Canonsburg, PA committed to attend Wilkes.
Both teams went back to their primary goaltenders for the key game, Carlson turning aside 24 of 26 shots he faced while Perets stopped 22 shots in goal for the Bruins.
Championship Series starts Friday
The Hitmen will move on to the NCDC’s Dineen Cup Championship series against the regular season champion Islanders Hockey Club with a 6:30 pm (EDT) start on Friday (March 30). Game two will begin at 4 pm Saturday and if needed, a third game will be played on Easter Sunday, starting at 2 pm. All games will be played at the home of the Islanders, the Merimack-Lawler Arena at North Andover, MA.