Eastern Junior Elite Prospects League: Hitmen crowned regular season champs; Maksymum Hockey wins playoffs

Eastern Junior Elite Prospects League: Hitmen crowned regular season champs; Maksymum Hockey wins playoffs

Congratulations are in order for the Jersey Hitmen and Maksymum Hockey.

Hitmen head coach Bill Thompson and his staff for leading the U16 New Jersey Hitmen to an impressive record of 18-2-0-0 (for 36 points) in the Eastern Junior Elite Prospect League‘s inaugural regular season.

“Coach Thompson is a veteran coach who knows what he is doing,” said Eastern Junior Elite Prospect League commissioner Henry Lazar. “Bill and his staff worked very hard to gain the regular season championship.”

The Hitmen didn’t lose a league game in December, January or February, a streak of 10 wins to end the season. The Hitmen were led by ’97 forward Alex Whelan, with 19 points in 17 games.

Close behind the Hitmen were the Connecticut Oilers (17-3-0-0, 34 points) and Maksymum Hockey (14-3-0-3, 31 points).

The playoffs were very exciting, as each of the eight teams had some type of success during the regular season against the top three teams.

Along with hosting the inaugural EJEPL playoffs, the Monarchs have done a great job over the years hosting Eastern Junior, Empire and Eastern States league all-star events at their Hooksett, N.H., home rink. One such event was the EJEPL’s first-ever all-star weekend, where the 16U division was very exciting and went down to overtime to determine the winner.

“My team is all pumped up and ready to go,” said Maksymum head coach Dave Maksymiu, before the playoffs. “We have played and practiced hard to be the champion.”

That is just what happened. Maksymum beat the Junior Bruins in the semifinals. The Connecticut Oilers upset the Hitmen, 4-2, in the other semifinal and met Maksymum in the Feb. 24 final. Maksymum defeated the Oilers, 5-4.

Connecticut’s Jack Badini scored two goals (one shorthanded) to give the Oilers an early 2-1 lead, but Maksymum’s Tyler Cavalier scored his first of two to tie the game. Maksymum’s Joey Saraceni scored two second period goals to extend the lead to 5-3. Connor Dahlman pulled Connecticut to within one, but that was as close as the Oilers would get.

Also at the playoffs were the New Hampshire Monarchs, Islanders Hockey Club, New York Apple Core and the Boston Bandits.

Former Eastern Junior Hockey League commissioner and league founder Dan Esdale was in attendance on Sunday to present the winner the Esdale Trophy.

The two playoff brackets were named for EJHL founding fathers Gary Dineen and Phil Coleman. Both men did a lot to get the EJHL to where it is today and, before passing on, helped make the “EJ” the top junior league on the East Coast.

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