The Jersey Hitmen Elite are headed back to Champions week to compete for the United States Premier Hockey League Elite title. The Hitmen who have been a force all season long have found success once again under Coach Brandon Stroud who in his first year took the team to their first appearance in the highly competitive tournament. Stroud had this to say, “All the credit goes to the twenty-five guys on this team that have given the ultimate sacrifice, commitment, and excellence to this organization.” The Hitmen go into round robin play with a line of 28 wins, 12 losses, and 4 over time losses good for 60 points. They were a threat on offense all season long putting up 175 goals for, but Stroud is more impressed with the teams commitment to the defensive zone. “We have been a team that changes identity when we have to but we have had one constant all season long and that is pride in our own zone.” The Hitmen have only given up 107 goals against outscoring their opponents by 68 goals during the regular season.
The team is highlighted by a plethora of talent, Chris Conway, Brody Selman, Eddie Corvelli, and all three goaltenders that posted and average of .908 save percentage. “There is no doubt about it that these guys have been good for us but we aren’t a team of individuals, our style of play requires all twenty-five guys pulling the rope in the same direction.” The Hitmen have had production top to bottom all season with eight different players having 25 points or more in regular season play. “I believe that every team needs to be a true team, lean on each other and expect the unexpected. You take a guy like Alex Kelly who had two huge goals for us in game two against Hartford that really propelled us to the victory. He’s a guy that doesn’t always get a lot of time but when his number is called he is ready to go. I think every team needs these guys to be dynamic and make a deep championship run.” The Hitmen have defiantly been dynamic all season long which makes it tough for their opponents to try to match up against them.
The Hitmen will represent the Mid-Atlantic Division in Pool A during champions week as the number one seed. They open pool play against Hampton Roads Whalers on Wednesday morning, and will also face Islanders Hockey Club, and the Florida Jr. Blades. We asked Captain Brody Selman what advice he will give his team after his experience last season with the club, he had this to say. “After coming so close last year I know that you can’t take a shift off and every shift needs to be played like it’s your last. We will need to get our rest when we can because it’s a lot of hockey in a short amount of time. We also need to take the experience all in because you never know when you will get a chance to play in an event like this again.” Selman who has shown leadership qualities all season long will be a player to watch in this tournament and in the future.
There is no doubt about it that Champions week is filled with intense hockey and leading scorer for the Hitmen Chris Conway expects nothing different going into his first Champions Week. “I expect a lot of intensity, for our team to be successful in round robin play we must play three full periods as a team and set the pace of play.”
You can catch all Jersey Hitmen games during champions week on Hockey TV as the Hitmen compete for their first ever Elite Championship.