The New Jersey Hitmen battled among the leaders of the Premier League’s Mid-Atlantic Division all season, ultimately finishing third overall – six points away from second place and the first round playoff bye.
If the team was disappointed, it didn’t show in the postseason as they handily defeated the Jersey Shore Whalers 7-0 and 6-4 on the first weekend. From there, they grabbed a 4-1 win against the Skipjacks Hockey Club to open this past weekend’s set.
The Skipjacks, who did earn that first round bye, regrouped for a 5-0 win in a do-or-die second game. But with their own backs to the wall for the first time, the Hitmen came up big with a 3-2 overtime victory to punch its ticket to return to the National Championship tournament. Tadeas Pejchal scored Sunday’s OT winner just 38 seconds in.
Apart from the Aviators, who grabbed the other Mid-Atlantic Division ticket to Nationals, the Hitmen played seven games against teams that will be among the Final 16.
Four of those games came against the Syracuse Stars in crossover matches, the Hitmen capturing three of the four games which were all played between Oct. 13-Nov. 11.
Earlier, the Hitmen dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bandits, and on Nov. 18, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs grabbed a 5-2 win against the Hitmen. The lone post-Christmas game against a Nationals rival came on Jan. 5 at a Showcase event when the Hitmen shutout the Chicago Cougars, 7-0.
The Hitmen engaged in defensive battles often, out-scoring its opponent by an average of 3.44-2.79 per game.
As a result, the Hitmen didn’t have a player with 50 points on the season – Josh Mead (‘98/Sparta, N.J.) led the way with 43 points - but the playoffs showed the Hitmen can come up with the big goal when it’s needed.
Apart from Mead, the scoring is bunched so while the team might not boast a guy that can win it by himself, they are not easy to defend either as they get scoring from several sources.
Backstopping the team is Trevor Stenberg (‘99/Mendham, N.J.) and Cole Mulholland (‘99/Pompton Lakes, N.J.) The mostly split the work during the regular season and have continued that trend in the second season, both posting two wins so far.
New Jersey Hitmen 2019 Premier Nationals Schedule
Sat., March 9: Florida Eels vs. New Jersey Hitmen, Essex Rink 1, 10:45 am
Sat., March 9: Northern Cyclonesvs. Jersey Hitmen, Essex Rink 1, 6:15 pm
Sun., March 10: Richmond Generals vs. Jersey Hitmen, Lawler Arena, 10:45 am