Saturday Septemeber 1st showcased a sneak peek look at both the EJHL and ESHL squads for the Suffolk Juniors this season. This was a chance for players who have already made the team to make an impact, as it also allowed the coaches to mix and match their lines to best suit their respective clubs.
The game started off slow on both sides due to the lack of chemistry, but the more the game moved along the less sloppy both teams looked. Their confidence grew with every passing minute as they attempted more no look drop passes and crisp tape to tape in stride passes. Goaltending stole the show for the first 20 plus minutes, as goalies Eric Tatatian (ESHL) and Stephen Mundinger(EJHL) went save for save before Joe Walsh of the Empire team was able to convert on a power play goal with just 3:53 remaining in the first half. Later the Empire struck again, this time on a loose puck scramble to put the Empire team up 2-0 after 25 minutes of play. Tatarian finished with 14 saves on 16 shots, while Mundinger stopped all 11 shots he faced in the opening frame.
The EJHL picked up where they left off in the 2nd half, they got a pair of goals from Matt Gault who finished with 3 points on the day. Chris Vita who was moved up to forward during the game, also added a tally with a great individual effort using his reach to his advantage and tucking the puck in to the back of the net. Cameron Smith played a strong game all around for the Empire squad, causing turnovers with his aggressive pursuit of the puck carrier and using his speed on the rush to gain the offensive zone allowing his team to set up the play.
The ESHL squad was able to beat goalie Peter Fosso for two goals in the second half. Anthony Modica broke the shutout with an incredible individual effort dangling his way through the defense and finishing off the play with a nifty short side backhander over the shoulder of Peter Fasso. There were a few players that stood out on the White team, one being Nicholas Mangone who was misjudged by the Empire defense showing his elusiveness, quick release, and using his speed to create plays. He is definitely one to keep an eye out for this year for coach John Agliato's team as they look to have better success this season after losing in the semi-finals a season ago.
The ESHL team opens on the road against the Philadelphia Revolution Saturday Septemeber 8th at 7:00PM. Check back here for information regarding where to view the game.
The Empire team will have to wait a week longer to get started, as they are opening against the Adirondack Wings in Troy NY. Matt Taub and Chuck Natalello will have the call on SuffolkJuniorsTV. Puck drop is at 7:30PM; join them at 7:20 for Suffolk Juniors Live pre-game to get everything you need to know about the game.