Connecticut Oilers captured the second Eastern (Junior) Hockey League Championship.
Down in the best-of-5 series 2 games to 1 against reigning champs Northern Cyclones, they rallied back with two convincing victories.
Starting goalie Michael Tilford(1) stopped a monumental 64 of 65 chances in the deciding final contest and Phil Kreuser(10), who was set to be a healthy scratch but played, scored the game-winning goal.
The Oilers had to beat some tough competition sweeping an always tough Walpole Express team and regular season best Philadelphia Little Flyers, who lost only three games in regulation during the 2014/2015 campaign.
Their efforts earned them a very well-played and deserved title.
See related: 3/28-14
Goaltender Evan McCarthy(29) is back in between the pipes for a second season with Walpole Express of the Eastern Hockey League juniors, but for 2015/2016 he’s committed to Miami University (Ohio), where he’ll also grab himself a nice education.
The fairly big 6’3″ 180 lbs. net minder has yet to post outstanding numbers through a pair of years in US junior hockey (he played for a pair of NAHL teams as a rookie) but that all looks to change since he decided on his future intentions.
He’s already off to a quick start posting a 4-0-2 record with a 2.50 GAA and .938 SV% (all bests) and will likely blow right past his minutes played before the midpoint of the season.
He’ll be 21-years old when he starts his college career but that’s fairly typical in a goalie’s development.
After three seasons of tier 3 junior hockey in the US, Russian-born left wing Daniil Kulikov(43) will go back home to join MHK Spartak and play as a 21-year old before looking for a job in the pros.
He won the inaugural 2014 EHL Championship with Northern Cyclones last season.
At 6′ 170 lbs. he’s always been able to contribute on the score sheet wherever he was playing juniors.
He’ll have to up his game when he returns to surroundings he may be more familiar with but looking at his history and numbers there’s definitely a good possibility it can happen.
First he’ll have to get into skating some games with the team, which he has yet to do through 4 contests.
Vancouver Canucks‘ 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft (#90 overall), rookie right wing Alexandre Grenier(28) had a good first year under a two-year entry level deal signed to start in the 2013/2014 season.
Playing on reassignment with their expansion affiliate Utica Comets, he managed to connect for a team third high ranking in goals, assists and points (17-22-39).
This was actually the hulking 6’4″ 200 lbs. forward second season as a pro.
After only a year and a half in the QMJHL, he decided it was time to take his game to the next level.
Signing with EC Salzburg of the Austria Elite League as players waited for the lockout to thaw, he gained some solid playing experience in 25 games overseas and joined Kalamazoo Wings to begin his quest to get make it to the NHL.
Wasting no time, he contributed 10 goals and 11 assists in 37 games before being recalled late in the season to Chicago Wolves.
Impressed by his skating, he would ink a contract at the conclusion of the regular season.
With a bit more muscle and weight on his full-sized frame, the 22-year old should compete for a spot on the parent’s club roster to start his sophomore campaign.
Arizona Coyotes‘ 8th year veteran defenseman Dylan Reese(2) keeps his streak of appearances in the show alive.
Recalled on only one occasion he skated his game, keeping the streak going of 5 straight seasons of NHL games.
All but three of his 78 appearances were with New York Islanders from 2009-2012 and those were with the one year he was signed by Pittsburgh Penguins.
The not huge, not exactly small 6′ 201 lbs. blue liner decided to go way overseas for 2013/2014 and joined Amur Khabarovsk of the KHL but seemed like it maybe didn’t work out all too well. He only had 2 goals and 5 assists in 45 games.
He was signed on the first of free agency to a one-year two-way deal by the Coyotes and is putting in a career year with minor league affiliate Portland Pirates.
Early in his career he was in their 2008 training camp, played in preseason games and skated his first two years with then farm team San Antonio Rampage, but this is the first time under contract.
In 69 games he has a career high 10 goals and tying 27 assists and best 37 points with a +9 rating.
With 395 AHL games to his credit, it will be interesting to see where the 30-year old goes next, especially with this uptick of offense ignition.
Northern Cyclones win the inaugural 2014 Eastern (Junior) Hockey League-EHL Championship with a 3-2 deciding game 5 victory over regular season champs New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
The team fell into a 2-0 series hole but fought back winning three straight games.
The Cyclones also had to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the last contest but scored once late in the first period, then fought hard to outplay their opponents in the final pair of frames, getting a two tallies in the third to seal the title.
4th year goaltender Tyler Beskorowany(1) signed an ECHL contract with San Francisco Bulls to start his first campaign as an unrestricted free agent.
In 32 games he kept an uneven team competitive with a 14-13 mark but was shelled with pucks each night and didn’t have the best GAA or SV% stats to show for it.
He was originally a Dallas Stars‘ 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft (#59 overall) and signed a 3-year entry level deal through 2012/2013 but was not qualified.
The big 6’5″ 295 lbs. net minder excelled pretty well as a rookie with AHL affiliate Texas Stars in a split season with Idaho Steelheads, where he put up similar, slightly better numbers with a winning record.
He wasn’t as lucky in his sophomore year and maybe even shouldered some of the blame for the team’s 2nd to last worst placing.
For the final run of his terms, he slipped on the depth chart and was relegated to the Pacific Northwest. He seemed to take the move in stride, playing pretty well and backstopping the Steelheads into a second Kelly Cup Playoff round.
He was probably relieved when the Bulls‘ management decided to close up shop on a financially busted second season, leaving him once again free to find another cage to call home.
In stepped Orlando Solar Bears and in 2 games he’s got two victories with a 1.50 GAA and .940 SV%.
A needy St. John’s IceCaps noticed that and a month ago signed him to a pto. He’s only been between the pipes once, and although he won the game was victimized for 5 goals on 36 shots.
He started the 2013/2014 season in training camp with Worcester Sharks before being released.
Depending upon how deep his current club can go in the postseason, it seems doubtful the 23-year old Sudbury, Ontario native will stick with North America after this year.
Northern Cyclones‘ center Kevin Valenti(27) is having a breakout season in his first full year with the team of the Eastern (Junior) Hockey League.
The slightly small-ish 5’11” 175 lbs. forward is more than a two point-per-game player.
Through 23 games he’s notched 20 goals and 27 assists for a league leading 47 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Last season he had less than half a dozen points through roughly the same amount of contests.
Not sure what occurred in the off-season but the 20-year old has come to play and scouts are watching.
He’s a smart, sensible two-way player that sees the ice well, sets up scoring chances or pockets his opportunities when they come his way.
It will be interesting to see where he goes next but turning pro and signing with a double A team wouldn’t be out of the question.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers signed undrafted defenseman Mike Keenan(5) to a one-year AHL standard player contract for 2013/2014.
He joined the team for 5 games on an ato at the end of last season after concluding his four-year college career at Dartmouth. He was team captain in his last two years and put up career highs goals, assists and points in his final campaign, although those numbers were considerably moderate at 5 tallies and 11 helpers in 34 games.
The 6′ 180 lbs. d-man notched his first professional hockey point, an assist, while also going a +3 plus/minus and connecting for 6 shots on goal and 9 minutes in penalty, including one fighting major.
With his mostly stay-at-home, steady style the 24-year old should help the Sound Tigers shore up the defensive zone, as they were the second most scored upon team in the league last season.
Phoenix Coyotes‘ 5th round pick in the 2010 draft (#138 overall) rookie goaltender Louis Domingue(37) is another prospect putting up good numbers for affiliates in his first pro year.
In 32 games with ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators he’s stepped up big since taking over the starter job, boasting a 21-9-2 record with a 2.80 GAA and .902 SV%. He has helped the team clinch a playoff berth and just about seal the top spot in the South Division.
The 6’3″ 200 lbs. net minder has also played in two AHL games for Portland Pirates, getting a 6-3 win in his only start with a 2.40 GAA and .931 SV%.
The 21-year old is signed to a 3-year NHL entry level deal through 2015, so there is definitely much healthy competition between the pipes for Desert Dogs‘ #1 spot.
His continue good play will be key to the Glads going far in the upcoming Kelly Cup Playoffs. They have a tandem in net that could take them all the way.