The 2023-24 Pennsylvania Huntsmen season is underway! Both the EHL Team and the EHL Premier Teams kicked off their season against division rivals. The EHL team hit the road to take on the New Jersey 87s (9-15) then had a break before their home opener on Wednesday. The Premier team opened the season on the road against the Philadelphia Little Flyers (9-16).
EHL vs 87s
Devin England scored the first goal of the season for the Huntsmen midway through the 1st period. England led an odd man rush into the offensive zone but kept it himself and fired the shot to give the Huntsmen a 1-0 lead. In the 2nd period each team traded scoring chances. The Huntsmen had to send out the penalty kill three times in the period, and they were able to keep New Jersey off the board. The 87s and Huntsmen went punch for in the 3rd period. PA had another powerplay opportunity and it was early in the 3rd. Aidan Hellyer would score a PPG (Asst Manzi, Cole) to put the Huntsmen up 2-0. New Jersey would quickly respond to cut the lead in half 2-1. This time the Huntsmen would respond quickly, and Carson Stickley would score on the rebound to beat (G) Spann for a 3-1 lead. Again, the 87s answered quick and would not go away easily and made it a one goal game 3-2. In the final minute the Huntsmen were trying to hang on to the lead, but New Jersey would tie the game 3-3 from a deflected shot. In overtime John Manzi would score on the breakaway to give the Huntsmen a 4-3 victory, the first for the EHL franchise.
“We are all new here with a first-year program and a lot of new faces and young talent. We want to work on having a good culture. To face adversity and come together as a group and pull off an overtime win is great to start off the year.” Ryan Bartlett
EHL vs Philadelphia Hockey Club
The Huntsmen had their home opener against Philadelphia Hockey Club (PHC). Pennsylvania would strike first as Ryan Bartlett would score on the power play with help from Liam Hellyer, and Manzi. In the second period Connor Randell would score and PA had a 2-0 lead. PHC would answer back a few minutes later to cut the lead in half 2-1. Midway through the 3rd period, Philadelphia had a chance to tie the game with a powerplay. The Huntsmen cleared their defensive zone and chasing the loose puck with a PHC defender was Ansen Von Walewander. The pressure inside the Philadelphia zone from Walewander led to Devin England gathering the puck and scoring shorthanded for the 3-1 lead. The last goal of the game came from Aidan Hellyer on a great individual effort to put the game away for Pennsylvania as they went on to win 4-1. Goaltender Cole Fennema was solid in net making 24 saves for his second win of the year.
“We have been focusing on special teams. We work on little things, possessing the puck, making smart decisions, and finishing our chances. We are going to be an aggressive team this year. We are not a team that is going to hold back, we will push forward all year long.” Ryan Bartlett
Premier vs Little Flyers
Last weekend the Huntsmen hit the ice for year two in the EHL Premier. They travelled to the division rival Philadelphia Little Flyers. It was not a good start for PA. The Huntsmen were looking for the game’s first goal on the powerplay but instead a bad turnover in the offensive zone led to a shorthanded breakaway goal for the Little Flyers to make it 1-0. Later in the 1st, Philadelphia would extend their lead to 2-0. The Huntsmen would get on the board thanks to veteran forward Luca Palachick making it 2-1 in the 2nd period. The Little Flyers would respond on the next shift and just :13 later Philadelphia would regain a two-goal lead 3-1. PA kept fighting as Silas Defibaugh would give the Huntsmen life, but they still trailed 3-2. Again, the Little Flyers would respond on the next shift, this time :15 later and Philadelphia had a 4-2 lead through two periods. The Huntsmen started the 3rd shorthanded due to a penalty late in the 2nd period. The penalty kill was aggressive, and Darius Nichols would score shorthanded to put the Huntsmen back within one and it was 4-3. Midway through the 3rd, the Little Flyers would gain some insurance and take another two-goal lead 5-3. Late in the game, veteran forward Anthony LoGiurato would score on the power play with help from Cisar, but it wasn’t enough as the Huntsmen would fall short to the Little Flyers 5-4.
The EHL Team (2-0) has a busy weekend ahead. On Friday, they travel across town to take on the Philadelphia Little Flyers. This will be a big test for the Huntsmen. The Little Flyers won the South Division last year and went to the EHL Frozen Finals but were eliminated in the semifinals in Rhode Island. The Little Flyers are 1-1, they defeated Philadelphia Hockey Club last Friday 5-0, but lost their home opener to the New Jersey 87s 3-1. Saturday is a rematch with Philadelphia Hockey Club, but the Huntsmen will visit Hollydell Ice Arena for that one. PHC doesn’t have any games before they meet the Huntsmen for the second time.
The home opener is this Sunday for the Premier Team. The Huntsmen will host the New Jersey Renegades. Last year, the Huntsmen defeated the Renegades in the first round of the playoffs and dominated the season series overall with a record of 8-3 against them. The Renegades are 2-0 this season with wins against the Union Jr. Thunder 6-2, and a 4-1 win over the Little Flyers. The Renegades will host the Little Flyers on Saturday night, before facing the Huntsmen on Sunday.
EHL Team at Philadelphia Little Flyers Friday 7:00pm
EHL Team at Philadelphia Hockey Club Saturday 4:30pm
Premier Team vs New Jersey Renegades Sunday 2:55pm
By: Joe Sindoni
Play by Play Announcer