Photo Credit Marisa Masso
The JRFlyers hosted the New Hampshire Monarchs in the Semi Finals of the Eastern Hockey League over the weekend. Monarchs came in sweeping the Northern Cyclones while the JRFlyers won in three games over the East Coast Wizards
Game 1 Friday
Just two minutes into the game Kneedler buried a shot by (G) Gaisor with great passing from Benitez and Taylor. Late in the 2nd period the JRFlyers were buzzing in the offensive zone. Manning chipped the puck back to Butryn at the point. He fired a back door pass to Nilsson wide open and put the shot to the back of the net for the 2-0 lead. The JRFlyers also killed off three penalties including a 5on3 chance for the Monarchs to keep it a 2-0 game heading to the locker rooms. Early in the 3rd the Monarchs were able to score against (G) Vail cutting the lead in half 2-1. Just after that goal the JRFlyers were called for interference and the Monarchs headed out to a power play looking to tie the game. The JRFlyers held off the initial rush and cleared the puck out of the zone. When the Monarchs were moving through neutral ice the play was broken up by Manning. The loose puck went into the Monarchs zone where Manning caught up to it and with the breakaway chance he scored shorthanded giving the JRFlyers a 3-1 lead. The two goal lead was short lived as the Monarchs answered right away to make it a one goal game 3-2. All three of those goals happened within the first six minutes of the 3rd period. The Monarchs had another power play chance late in the game but the penalty killing unit stood strong as it did all night to keep the Monarchs off the board and the JRFlyers won the game 3-2. JRFlyers goaltender Mac Vail picked up his fifth win of the postseason making 34 saves in the victory.
Game 2 Saturday
The Monarchs were off to the start they wanted sending a goal by (G) Vail taking the early lead in the 1st period. The JRFlyers took a penalty at the end of the period that would rollover into the 2nd period. In the beginning of the 2nd the JRFlyers took another penalty and the Monarchs had a 5 on 3 power play. It didn’t take long as the Monarchs setup in the offensive zone and wasted no time taking a 2-0 lead. The Monarchs still had a man advantage for 1:34 but the JRFlyers were able to kill it off and keep them from scoring. Just after the power play Manning stole the puck and was behind the net in the offensive zone. Nilsson was crashing the goal so Manning sent the pass right to him and Nilsson fired it by (G) Weatherly making it 2-1. The Monarchs had pressure in the offensive zone as the JRFlyers were looking to clear. The Monarchs responded as the JRFlyers were trying to move the puck away right in front of (G) Vail. The pass hit a Monarch player and went right into the net giving the goal right back as the Monarchs took a 3-1 lead just a minute after Nilsson’s goal. After that goal 13:40 remained in the 2nd period and it was the start of something special. Shortly after the goal, a penalty against the Monarchs put the JRFlyers on the power play. Manning won the faceoff back to Hinderliter at the point. Hinderliter sent the shot on goal and it was redirected by Manning to the back of the net making it 3-2. The JRFlyers came right back into the offensive zone with more chances. Kubara sent the puck along the wall and it was taken by Benitez. He skated to the side of the net and slid the puck out in front but it got deflected and squeaked by (G) Weatherly to tie the game 3-3. The JRFlyers had tied the game about two and a half minutes after they were down 3-1. A few minutes later the JRFlyers were looking to take the lead with the power play. Kneedler sent the shot on net and the rebound was there for Manning to send in and the JRFlyers took a 4-3 lead. Near the end of the 2nd period Cohen deflected the puck at the red line into the Monarchs zone. Dougherty raced to the puck forcing a two on one. Dougherty passed it to Kubara who fired it by (G) Weatherly giving the JRFlyers a 5-3 lead. That goal sent Weatherly to the bench and Stephen Gasior came into the game. The JRFlyers took the two goal lead to the locker room deflating the Monarchs momentum. In the 3rd period the JRFlyers piled it on as Benitez sent in two more goals giving him a hat trick and Taylor hit the score sheet as well and the JRFlyers swept the defending champs out of the Semi Finals with an 8-3 win. Mac Vail picked up his sixth win of the playoffs making 32 saves for the JRFlyers.
It was certainly a great series as the JRFlyers punched their ticket to the Eastern Hockey League Finals by sweeping the Monarchs and the players gave us their thoughts on the series and their big Game 2 victory.
“It was a battle and they played well. Fortunately we were able to hold them off and we were able to capitalize when we had our chances. We’ve come back before, not that we want to get used to doing that, but we know how to handle ourselves when we are faced with that situation.” Josh Hinderliter
“It was a very tough series. They are a very smart and fast team and we most certainly had a little trouble with them but we played our game and stuck with it. We showed a lot of composure not getting frustrated being down by two and we just played one shift at a time. It was a very fun game to be a part of.” Chris Butryn
“I thought we had things in control. Obviously being down 2-0 is nothing we haven’t seen before this season. We got things rolling in the second period and kept scoring. After that they (Monarchs) shutdown, we played smart and played good defense and took care of things from there.” Tommy Dougherty
In the other Semi Final matchup was the Little Flyers taking on the New Jersey Rockets. The Little Flyers swept the Rockets and are heading back to the Finals. The Little Flyers took on the Monarchs in the Championship last year and lost, and now they’ll get another chance at capturing the crown. The Championship will feature the two best teams in the league: Little Flyers ranked one overall and the JRFlyers ranked second. Division rivals in a best of five series to see who wins the Championship.
“You can’t ask for anything more, one vs two in the league, it just adds to it that we’re division rivals. We’ve played in the regular season five times and now here we are in the postseason. As long as we play our game and battle like we can, we’ll do well.” Dougherty
“This is so big for everyone, us and them. There's no other way to put it, both teams will be coming out hot. We both want the championship, they lost last year in the finals, and I'm sure they don’t want that again, so it should be a great series.” Hinderliter
“You couldn't ask for a better way to end the season then to battle your biggest rival for the championship. It's going to be a very hard and fast series and we are very excited to play and just can't wait for Friday.” Butryn
Friday March 31st 3:30pm Ice Works
Saturday April 1st 6:00pm Ice Line
Friday April 7th 6:00pm Ice Works
**Sunday April 9th 3:00pm Ice Line
**Monday April 10th 6:00pm Ice Works
***Stay Tuned for the Finals Preview later this Week***
By: Joe Sindoni
Play By Play Announcer