Matt Penta made 48 saves Sunday when the Valley Junior Warriors pulled off the only upset in the first round of Eastern Hockey League playoffs with a 5-2 victory over the Connecticut Oilers.
The higher-seeded team won seven of eight first-round series. Connecticut, the third seed, opened Friday with a 3-1 win at home over Valley, the 14th seed. But Penta made 34 saves in the loss and followed that up with 25 in Saturday’s 4-3 home win to even the series. The Warriors advanced by winning on the road in the deciding game.
Joseph Gilhooly led the New York Bobcats past the Boston Junior Rangers, getting a hat trick by scoring all three goals in Saturday’s 3-1 win, then providing the game-winning goal among his two goals in Sunday’s 5-4 win.
The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, Northern Cyclones, Hartford Junior Wolfpack, Philadelphia Little Flyers and Boston Bandits also advanced with two-game sweeps.
PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Peter Mingus scored two special teams goals Tuesday when the West Sound Warriors opened the best-of-five Northern Pacific Hockey League Cascade Cup Finals with a 4-2 win over the Bellingham Blazers. Both teams had won their semifinal series with three-game sweeps.
Mingus opened the scoring 2:59 into the game with a short-handed goal and then put West Sound ahead 2-1 on a power-play goal at 3:43 of the second period. The Warriors held onto the lead after that. Forrest Savel made 42 saves in the win.
Sean Lawrence saved 48 of 49 shots as the Boston Junior Bruins swept the Portland Junior Pirates in two games in the first round of the United States Premier League Premier Division playoffs.
The Jersey Hitmen also advanced with a sweep while the South Shore Kings and Islanders Hockey Club won three-game series.
SCORING STARS: Matt Kroska of the North Iowa Bulls set a North American 3 Hockey League modern day (since 2006) scoring record by increasing his season total to 111 points. The 20-year-old from Elko, Minn. had four goals and three assists in three weekend wins.
“His production and the production of his line is something that I have never seen at this level,” Bulls coach Todd Sanden said in a story on the league website. “He shows so much leadership on a daily basis and, despite all his success and points, Matt still remains hungry and trying to become a better player each day in hopes of earning an NCAA commitment.”
Lane King of the Marquette Royales averaged three points per game on the season to win the Minnesota Junior Hockey League scoring title with 25 goals and 98 assists in 41 games.
MINNESOTA WRAP-UP: The Hudson Crusaders secured the third seed in the Minnesota Division when the Minnesota League wrapped up its season.
The Crusaders had climbed from fourth to third when they beat the Rochester Ice Hawks 7-1 Friday and the second-place Maple Grove Energy 3-2 Saturday. On Sunday the Crusaders became the only team to shut out the division champion Dells Ducks this season when Matt Goedeke made 32 saves in a 3-0 win.
Dells won the Minnesota Division with a 38-6-2-0 record. Marquette went 37-9-0-0 to win the Great Lakes Division.
BOUNCING BACK: Fargo not only broke a 10-game United States Hockey League winless streak, but the Force won three games in a row for its longest winning streak of the season.
Fargo piled up 51 shots in a 4-3 overtime win over the Sioux City Musketeers on Feb. 26. Andrew Zerban scored the overtime game-winning goal and had goals in each of the other wins, giving him a four-game, goal-scoring streak.
COLLEGE COMMITMENT: Mitch Maloney, a forward with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, has committed to play at Ferris State University. The 19-year-old from Macomb, Mich. has seven goals and seven assists in 20 games since joining the RoughRiders in late December.
ONE-TIMERS: Aberdeen goalie Henry Dill has allowed two goals or fewer in nine straight North American Hockey League games, including stopping 68 of 70 shots in a pair of weekend wins that put the Wings in the Central Division lead. … Hayden Stewart is 7-0 with a 0.72 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage since joining the USHL's Indiana Ice. ... Vince Bartkowiak had two goals and five assists when the Chicago Junior Bulldogs won a pair of games to remain alive in the NA3HL playoff race. … The NA3HL announced the format for its playoffs and Silver Cup Championship, which will bring the four survivors of two rounds of divisional playoffs to Geneva, Ill. March 27-30 for a three-game, round-robin followed by a championship game. … The St. Louis Junior Blues clinched an NA3HL playoff berth with Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Wisconsin Whalers.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.
Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.
USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?
Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.
USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen Fenlon: I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.
USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?
Helen Fenlon: When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.
In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.
USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.
Helen Fenlon: It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.
USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?
Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.
USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?
Helen Fenlon: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.