Marlboro, MA- This past weekend the Jersey Hitmen organization traveled to Marlborough, MA for the second annual USPHL winter classic. The Hitmen were represented at the Premier, Elite, Empire, 18U, 16U and 16U Futures levels at the New England Sports Center. It was a tremendous NCAA college showcase for all six Hitmen teams, but the Premier stole the show. In three USPHL league games, the Hitmen went 3-0 and outscored opponents 20-2, lengthening their USPHL league lead to six points.
In game one, the Hitmen looked to complete the season sweep of the Portland Pirates, having won their first 4 contests. Utilizing the #1 power play in the Premier division, the Hitmen went 3 for 5 with the extra man, and notched another win. At 5:14 of the first period, Lake Superior State commit, Josh Henke, lit the lamp on the power play to put the Hitmen up 1-0. Just 23 seconds later, Colorado College recruit, Ben Israel got his first goal since coming off the IR, to put the Hitmen up to stay. The Hitmen would tack on two more power play goals, and add a penalty shot goal (Josh Henke), to skate to an 8-1 victory. Kicking out 19 of 20 shots, Ebbe Sionas, notched his 11th victory in net.
In game two, the Hitmen were looking to stay undefeated in their season series versus the Springfield Pics. The Pics, just a day earlier, upset the second place, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers by the score of 3-2, so the Hitmen knew that the Pics were game. However, the momentum from the big Philadelphia upset would be extinguished as just :18 seconds into the 1st period, Hitmen captain and Holy Cross recruit, Michael Laffin would light the lamp to put the Hitmen up 1-0. 3:12 later, that same line would strike again, as newly committed Northeastern recruit, Patrick Schule, would score his first of two on the night to put the Hitmen in drivers seat. At 10:35, James Martello, would score his first of three on the night, snapping home a goal on a nifty pass from Eric Brenk putting the Hitmen up 3-0 and they would not look back. In fine fashion, Ebbe Sionas (34 saves) would shut the door again, and the Hitmen would match their goal total and replicate the score from the night before skating by the Pics, 8-1.
The final game of the USPHL winter showcase would pit the skilled South Shore Kings against a rolling Hitmen club and the Kings would suffer the same result as Portland and Springfield. Outshooting the Kings 56-28, the Hitmen would use a huge afternoon from, Josh Henke (2 goals, 1 assist), to skate past the Kings 4-0, and push their record to 9-1 over their last 10 games. In goal, Chris Funkey added his 3rd shut out of the season, and pushed his league leading win total to 18 and league topping goals against average to an even 2.00.
Next up on the schedule is a two game set versus the CT Jr. Rangers. The Rangers are coming off a hard fought, 2-1 victory over the Bay State Breakers. On Thursday, the Hitmen will travel to CT for a 12pm puck drop and on Friday, the Hitmen will host the Rangers at the Ice Vault Arena at 1:45pm. Follow all the Hitmen road action at www.fasthockey.com