The EHL has realigned this year, but the 87’s are still in first place. They are 13-5-0 to lead the eight-team Atlantic Division following Friday afternoon’s 3-0 shutout of the third-place Philadelphia Revolution. The win was the seventh in the last eight games for the 87’s.
“They have the North American [Hockey League] team in the building, which is huge for people looking to get to the next level or looking to play [NCAA Division III] hockey,” said Justin Vickers, a 20-year-old defensemen from Murrieta, California, who recently committed to play Division III hockey at Stevenson University. “I just felt like being here was the best way for me to meet one of those goals, whether it was moving up or getting the D-III commitment.”
Vickers is one of three players who have been with the 87’s through their three-year emergence in the EHL.
Forward Trevor Cear and defenseman Tim Lazouski are the others.
Houli said the 87’s have covered all corners of the market in their recruiting, mixing home-grown talent from New Jersey youth programs with players recruited from California, Florida, Maine and internationally.
“We work hard at it. We’re at a lot of recruiting events. We see a lot of the same faces. People know who we are when we’re at an event,” Houli said. “… We look for, ‘Do you compete? Can you skate? Do you know the game?’
“When you look at our team as a whole, we have a wide range of prospects. We have blue-chip prospects who are coming highly rated out of top organizations around the country, then we have prospects that we find that are hidden gems.”
Andrew Maynard, a 20-year-old from Naperville, Illinois, shares the team goal-scoring lead with Daniels Leja. Tim Debord, 19, from Parker, Colorado, has 15 assists, two behind Leja for that team lead. Ian Graiff, who recently joined the team from the defending champion New Hampshire Avalanche, posted a shutout in his 87’s debut Friday, handling all 12 shots he faced.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Hickling Images.