The JRFlyers have swept the New Hampshire Monarchs and are headed for the Eastern Hockey League Finals. They will face the #1 Seed and Division Rival Philadelphia Little Flyers. Championships are exciting to begin with, then you combine it with the two best teams in the league facing off and they come from the same division, it just adds to the excitement. The JRFlyers and Little Flyers met five times over the regular season. The Little Flyers won the first three meetings by scores of 6-1, 5-4, and 3-2. In the second half of the season the JRFlyers won the last two meetings with a 3-2 win in a shootout, and a shutout win on the final game of the regular season (for the JRFlyers) 3-0.
The Little Flyers started their playoffs against the Connecticut Nighthawks. After dropping Game 1 losing 3-1, they rebounded with back to back 4-1 victories. In the Quarterfinals the Little Flyers cruised by the Applecore with 8-0, and 5-2 victories. In the Semifinals they took on a division rival in the New Jersey Rockets. It was the first series that the Little Flyers had to travel on the road for, but they swept their rivals with 6-4 and 3-1 victories advancing to the Eastern Hockey League Finals. Its familiar territory as the Little Flyers went to the Finals last season, but lost to the New Hampshire Monarchs.
The JRFlyers began the playoffs against the Hartford Jr Wolfpack. It was the fourth year in a row that these teams met in the first round of the playoffs and the Wolfpack had the JRFlyers number. This time the JRFlyers came away victorious with 2-0, and 4-3 wins to sweep the Wolfpack and continue their postseason run. In the Quarterfinals the East Coast Wizards came to town. After winning Game 1 by a score of 2-1 the Wizards won Game 2 3-2 forcing Game 3. The loss snapped a 17 game win streak for the JRFlyers but they rebounded with a 4-1 win in Game 3 to eliminate the Wizards. In the Semifinals the JRFlyers took on the defending champion New Hampshire Monarchs. Game 1 was a tight contest but the JRFlyers hung on for a 3-2 win. In Game 2 the JRFlyers found themselves down 2-0 and then 3-1 in the 2nd period. The JRFlyers picked up the pace and when the final horn sounded they punched their ticket to the Finals sweeping the defending champs with an 8-3 win.
It really is a dream matchup when the two best team’s faceoff in the championship. Both teams have had outstanding seasons. The Little Flyers lost their first game of the year 3-2 in overtime. After that they went on a tear winning 30 games in a row and didn’t lose a game in regulation until January 17th which ended a 33 game point streak. In the remaining 14 games the Little Flyers finished 8-3-3, which gave them 39-4-5 record the best record in the league
The Little Flyers had an unbelievable first half but it was the JRFlyers who were the hottest team heading to the postseason. The JRFlyers stretched and 8 game winning streak over the break from 12/17/16 to 1/23/17. The loss on 1/23 was in overtime so the JRFlyers still took a point away. After that overtime loss the JRFlyers won every game left on their schedule and they ended the season on a 14 game win streak. The JRFlyers ended the season 36-8-4 second best record behind the Little Flyers. The streak extended to 17 games through the playoffs but the Wizards won Game 2 of the Quarterfinals snapping the run.
Let’s take a look at some numbers for both teams during their run in the postseason.
Little Flyers 6-1
JRFlyers- Kneedler (9)pts, Benitez (8)pts, Manning (8)pts, Taylor (8)pts, Kubara (6)pts
Little Flyers- Peterson (16)pts, Savel (15)pts, Ochterbeck (10)pts, Hatton (8)pts, Bartkoski (8)pts
JRFlyers- Mac Vail 6-1 GAA 1.86, SV% .939, 1 Shutout
Little Flyers- Sam Kany 2-1 GAA 2.01, SV% .908, 1 Shutout
Joe Giacobbo 4-0 GAA 1.25, SV% .954
JRFlyers- Power Play 20.8%, Penalty Kill 93.1%
Little Flyers- Power Play 25.5%, Penalty Kill 79.2%
Usually in the Finals the higher seed chooses the format they want (2-2-1 or 2-3) but since the teams are only separated by 15 miles they have agreed on a 1-1-1-1-1 format.
Game Schedule - Best of 5 Series
Friday 3/31 3:30pm Ice Works
Saturday 4/1 6:00pm Ice Line
Friday 4/7 6:00pm Ice Works
Sunday 4/9 3:00pm Ice Line **If Necessary
Monday 4/10 6:00pm Ice Works **If Necessary
By Joe Sindoni
Play By Play Announcer