The newest addition to the USPHL is the addition of the 16U Futures division, a showcase league intended to catapult younger players into the full season 16U division. The Futures league made its debut this past weekend at the Boston Jr Bruins Showcase in Marlboro, MA. With most Futures clubs comprised of a few 98’s and mostly 99’s the Hitmen took a different approach to the league. While the club boast three 98’s and three 99’s the Hitmen Futures entry is comprised mostly of their high end 2000 team. This collection of players wasted no time making its mark on the league this past weekend, skating to a record of 3-1.
Friday night saw the inaugural game for the Hitmen conclude with a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Fire. 2000’s standout Mickey Burns would tally the Futures first ever goal at 16:38 of the first half with assists to Luke Campomenosi and Johnny Campomenosi. Throughout the first half the Hitmen played dominant hockey, but could not strike again. Atlanta would pull even before the end of the half courtesy of a Daniel Maya goal.
In the second half continued to dictate play and pulled ahead at 16:01 when Tyler Sedlak found the back of the net with help from Mickey Burns and Robbie Sheehan. Atlanta would tie things up once again at 7:20 on a goal by Kerry Kruzel. 99’ defenseman Michael Lagana would give the Hitmen the lead for good, firing a shot over the glove of Fire goalie Mac Fairbanks with 1:18 remaining. Marc Perez and Matt Koziel picked up the assists on Lagana’s game winner.
In game two of the weekend the Hitmen squared off against a fast and physical Team Carolina. Carolina, a predominantly 98’ squad, came out of the gates playing a physical brand of hockey and trying to knock the much smaller Hitmen off their game. However, Nolan Barrett would put the Hitmen ahead at 16:14 with the help of Koziel and Luke Campomenosi. Carolina would strike back with three straight goals to take the lead. The Hitmen would not quit and Barrett would connect again to pull Jersey within one. Carolina would stretch the lead to 4-2 before Koziel connected for the Hitmen to pull back within one. Tyler Nielsen and Zack toy picked up assists on the goal. Despite a valiant effort the Hitmen comeback fell short, dropping a 5-3 decision.
Sunday the Hitmen faced a two game slate, beginning with a tilt against the Adirondack Wings. Koziel would get things going for the Hitmen with the help of Luke Campomenosi less than three minutes in. Just over three minutes later Tyler Sedlak found the back of the net with assists from Nick Siffringer and Luke Campomenosi. Adirondack would pull within one before the first half close and the teams skated to the locker rooms with Jersey holding a 2-1 lead.
In the second half Jersey would extend their lead to two when Aaron Bohlinger’s point shot found its way through traffic and past the Adirondack goaltender at 21:01. Marc Perez and Matt Koziel would pick up assists on Bohlinger’s tally. Adirondack kept fighting and pulled within at 18:37. However, penalties would be the Wing’s undoing. The Hitmen would convert two straight power plays, courtesy of goals by Luke Campomenosi and Koziel to give Jersey a 5-2 win.
In Sunday’s second contest the Hitmen were slow to get going against the Islanders Hockey Club. Nick Siffringer would pot the only goal of the first period on a feed from Tyler Sedlak to give the Hitmen a 1-0 lead. It was the second half when the Hitmen offense would explode for seven goals. Marc Perez, Matt Koziel and Mickey Burns would each collect two goals and Luke Campomenosi would find the net as well, sending the Hitmen to and 8-1 victory.
Notes: The Futures team will next take action at the Jersey Hitmen Classic in Wayne, NJ from October 10-13.