With a lengthy list of weapons, developed at home and brought in from far away, the Philadelphia Little Flyers have put together a record that has assured them of finishing on top of the regular-season standings in the Eastern Hockey League this season.
The Little Flyers have won their last eight games to improve to 38-3-1. They clinched the top overall record by winning three times last week with the help of five goals and two assists by defenseman Nate Dunning.
Dunning was just the latest Little Flyer to put up impressive numbers.
“That’s probably the biggest thing,” Little Flyers head coach and general manager Mark Catron said. “I’ve been a part of this organization for four years now.
“We’ve had good teams, but this is probably the deepest team we’ve had.”
With their fourth EHL regular season championship, the Little Flyers have clinched a first-round bye as well as home-ice advantage throughout the entire postseason.
Philadelphia has outscored opponents 237-72, scoring 38 more goals and allowing nine fewer than the next-closest team in each category.
“We’re like a family here,” said Austin Master, who leads the league in power-play goals (19), ranks second in total goals (30) and is third in points (68). “We put it on the line for practice and, in our games, I think we tire some teams out with our speed.
“We’re very strong defensively and that all starts with our goalies.”
Thomas McLarnon has won all 15 of his starts in support of Brendahn Brawley, who is the league’s top goalie statistically.
Brawley leads the EHL in wins (23) and shutouts (seven) while ranking second in goals against average (1.84) and save percentage (.938) among those with at least 500 minutes in net.
While shutting opponents down, the Little Flyers defense has helped pile up the goals.
The Little Flyers defensive corps features two of the top seven scorers among all EHL skaters.
Zikmund Mroz from the Czech Republic leads the league in power-play assists with 28 and has 68 points in 42 games, tied for second best in the league.
Nick Daluisio is second in total assists with 49 and has 61 points in 42 games.
“Those two guys are the top-two set for us,” Catron said. “Not only do they get short-handed and power-play time, but I’ll match them up with a lot of other teams’ best lines.
“They’re steady. They’re two 20-year-olds that will do well in college. They help us offensively and they’re both solid defensively.”
Daluisio grew up in the Little Flyers youth program in Aston, Pennsylvania, spent one season away playing Tier I Elite hockey in Cleveland and was back home to play for the Little Flyers in the EHL last season.
After being scratched often during the regular season, Daluisio was ready to contribute come playoff time when the Little Flyers won their first six postseason games.
With top offensive defenseman Nick Magill-Diaz hurt late in the season, Daluisio made the most of an increase in playing time.
“I had to be ready to go,” Daluisio said. “I just kind of went out there with the mindset of, ‘Let’s go out and get a championship.’ I was trying to keep a team mentality, not really think about myself.
“It was frustrating a little bit last year, knowing that I had some ability and wasn’t getting looked at, but I kept my nose to the grindstone and just kept pushing through. It showed through in the finals.
“It was a big confidence booster bringing into this season.”
Master, from nearby Broomall, had played in other suburban Philadelphia programs, then gone to the Jersey Hitmen before coming to the Little Flyers. He shares the team points lead with Mroz.
Mroz, Master and Daluisio lead a group of 10 players who have reached double figures in goals scored this season for the Little Flyers. Those 10 are also part of the group of 16 players with at least 10 assists each.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.