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By Joe Sindoni, 03/21/24, 2:15PM EDT


Rematch with 87's for Trip to Frozen Finals

Photo Credit: Bri Sotera 


The playoffs began for the Pennsylvania Huntsmen last weekend. After a tough showcase, the Huntsmen were looking to get back on track in the Mid Atlantic Division Finals against a familiar foe, the New Jersey Renegades. It was a rematch from last year’s Semi Finals. Last year the Huntsmen dropped game 1, but then won games 2, and 3 to move on. This season, the Huntsmen only lost one time to the Renegades in a shootout back in October. Pennsylvania was looking for that momentum to carry into the playoffs.

Game 1 vs Renegades

The 1st period, both teams traded scoring chances but neither team scored, and the Huntsmen led the shots 16-14. Less than a minute into the 2nd period, Lunnie sent the puck to Ireland who dropped it back to Dylan Ickes and Ickes fired the puck to the back of the net giving PA the 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Burrell and Mueller worked the puck to Nick Smith, and Smith from a sharp angle sent a quick wrister to extend the lead 2-0. Early in the 3rd, the Renegades scored on a chance in the slot to make it a 2-1 game. The Huntsmen responded quickly when Cooper Ireland scored on a rebound chance to give the Huntsmen a 3-1 lead. The Huntsmen ended the game with goals from Logan Potts and Zander Lunnie, winning the game 5-1. Jackson Gruttadauria made 24 saves in net to earn the victory.

Game 2 vs Renegades

This game was much different than the night before. The Huntsmen wasted no time getting things started. Leonardo Vona scored thirty-one seconds into the game, and it was off to the races. Darius Nichols, and Zander Lunnie scored and just over three minutes into the game, the Huntsmen were up 3-0. Lunnie added a power play goal, and it was 4-0. The offense continued to roll and notched six goals in the 2nd period. Auge Cisar had two goals, Brock Burrell, Hunter Schirmer, Devin Schaeffer, and Cooper Walling also scored in the 2nd period. The Renegades scored twice but the Huntsmen were in control 10-2. Pennsylvania continued scoring in the 3rd period. Cooper Ireland and Tristan Fallon hit the back of the net early in the period. Cooper Walling scored the final Huntsmen goal as they cruised to a 13-4 victory.

Around the EHL Premier

The sweep over the Renegades sets up the rematch that everyone had been anticipating. It’s a rematch against the New Jersey 87s with a trip to Providence, Rhode Island and the EHL Frozen Finals on the line. The 87s, like the Huntsmen, dominated their series against the Philadelphia Little Flyers winning 9-0, and 7-2. Last season in the Mid Atlantic Division Finals the 87s swept the Huntsmen on their way to a title.

Elsewhere around the EHL Premier, the New England Wolves and the Vermont Lumberjacks will battle in the New England Division Finals. The Railers Jr. Hockey Club will face the Boston Jr. Rangers in the Boston Division Finals. One quick note on the Railers/Rangers Series. Both teams will be advancing to the Frozen Finals no matter the outcome of the series. The Rangers and Railers have the best records of the remaining teams in the EHL Premier, so the loser of this series will be given the At Large Bid. The winner will be the # 1 seed for the Finals, while the At Large Bid will be the #4 seed.

Huntsmen and 87s Head-to-Head

The Huntsmen and 87s met seven times in the regular season and Pennsylvania won the series 4-3. The series went back and forth as New Jersey won the first two matchups, then the Huntsmen won four in a row, but the 87s were victorious in the final meeting of the season in February. New Jersey is on an amazing run right now with a 15-game win streak heading to the Mid Atlantic Division Finals. They haven’t lost a game since January 15th. Santamaria leads the team in the playoffs with 2G 4A. For the Huntsmen, Cooper Ireland has 2G 4A and leads the Huntsmen in playoff points. The 87s have a solid core of veterans with 10 players returning to the team after winning the championship over the Railers last year. One of the strengths of the 87s is their scoring depth. New Jersey had 9 players with 22 points or more. Ayden Georgiano (27G 40A) and Logan Behrje (15G 25A) led the team in points in the regular season. Georgiano was awarded All EHL Premier Second Team while Behrje, and goaltender Frankie Smith were awarded All Mid-Atlantic Team.

Now let’s look at things for Pennsylvania. A big part of the Huntsmen’s success is due to their young talent and mid/late season additions. Brock Burrell (21G 19A) and Nick Smith (15G 17A) led the Huntsmen in points in the regular season. Zander Lunnie and Cooper Ireland have been great additions for the Huntsmen. Lunnie was acquired via trade with the New Hampshire Avalanche and had 34 points. He added another 7 points in 6 games with the Huntsmen and in the Semi Finals vs the Renegades Lunnie had 3 goals and 2 assists. Ireland put up 9 points (4G 5A) in 7 games since joining the Huntsmen and leads the team in playoff points with 2 goals and 4 assists. In reference to returning players, Anthony LoGiurato (17G 13A) and Luca Palachick (10G 17A) had great sophomore seasons for the Huntsmen. Palachick remains part of the leadership group in his second season with the team.

The Huntsmen and 87s are two of the top teams in the Premier and are successful in their own way. There’s more than one way to win in this league, and these teams have shown that. This is a series that has caught the attention of the league. The 87s are looking to repeat as champions and head to Providence again, while the Huntsmen are in year two and are looking to take the next step.



Game 1 at NJ 87s   Fri. Mar 22nd   7:30pm

Game 2 vs NJ 87s   Sat. Mar. 23rd   12:30pm

**Game 3 at NJ 87s  Sun. Mar. 24th   4pm


By: Joe Sindoni

Staff Writer

Play by Play Announcer