It was a constant battle for first place in the EHL 19U Elite’s South Division.
By Joe Bertolami
The Philadelphia Jr. Flyers and the Philadelphia Revolution, cross-town rivals, have both been the top teams all season long.
The Philadelphia Revolution recently finished with the South Division title. The Junior Flyers and Revs each finished with identical 30-10-2 records. They also had the same amount of head-to-head points, with six apiece (3-2-0 for Junior Flyers, 2-1-2 for Revs).
The second tiebreaker is EHL wins – a deadlock there – so the EHL had to use the third tiebreaker, goal differential, to separate the teams. After all, one team has to be the “home” team when they face each other.
The Junior Flyers and Revs will open the EHL 19U Elite playoffs with a three-game round robin for each team starting Saturday. The South Division round robin will take place at the Revolution Ice Gardens, the home of the Revolution. The Hartford Jr. Wolfpack and Brewster Bulldogs are also part of the four-team round robin field in the South.
The Bulldogs, by the way, tied in points with the New Jersey Rockets and advanced to the playoffs due to a tiebreaker (3-1-0 in head-to-head).
When it comes to the two Philadelphia teams, you might be hard-pressed to find two more identical junior teams across the country.
“The highlight of our season so far was definitely our win against the Revolution a couple of weeks ago,” said head coach Brett Skalski. “We were down 3-1 with just minutes left and ended up winning 5-3 so that was a huge win for our guys.”
That certainly gives the Flyers a boost of confidence to know that as essentially a “1B” seed, they can take out the “1A” seed.
As for key players on the Junior Flyers, one player has really stood out all season: Skyler Thomas, a ’99 from Narberth, Pa.
Thomas has a team-leading 54 points through 38 games and he has been a consistent performer all season.
“He shows up with the intention to learn and is always listening,” Skalski added. “He’s been a key guy for us.”
The Flyers still have some work to do if they hope to finish the season as 19U Elite playoff champions. Special teams and D zone coverage were the main points of emphasis for areas that the team needs to work on.
Although their penalty kill and power play percentage are both above the league average, as well as their defense being very solid all year long, the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers organization sets a very high standard. It is no surprise they continue to work to better all aspects of their game this week.
“We always set the expectation to be the best,” said Skalski. “We went into this season expecting just that, and [we have not] met that expectation yet.”
As of right now, they have met the organization standards, but will not truly exceed them until they come away with the title come playoff time.
While the Revolution stand in first place right now, none of that matters once the playoffs come. The Junior Flyers will need to continue to progress, as they have all year.
A combination of hard work, team unity, and relentless compete level could propel the Junior Flyers to continued success. Quite possibly, that could mean an EHL 19U Elite title.
Read past EHL 19U Elite articles in our archives: