By: Kevin Conway
ROCKLAND, Mass. – The 2023-24 East Coast Elite League season commenced at the new mecca of hockey in the Bay State—glittery Lovell Arena—during the Sept. 22-24 Fall Classic showcase where Ontario Hockey Academy set the pace atop both the 18U and 16U divisions.
The elder Mavericks were the lone league member to win all four weekend contests, drastically outscoring their opponents, 23-2, behind well-balanced scoring from each forward line plus a pair of shutout victories from goaltenders Hakon Eskeland and Jesse Nuccio, who both surrendered only a single goal during a pair of starts in the crease.
OHA forward Theordor Abercrombie’s hat trick and assist during a dominating win over the 95 Giants to cap the Fall Classic vaulted him to the top of the 18U scoring leaders list with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists). Meanwhile, teammate Thorvald Naess posted at least a point in all four victories, including two goals in a 3-0 win over Tomorrow’s Ice to open the weekend, equalling Abercrombie’s four-game points total. Mavericks forward Jeremy Deschambault-Perron also matched Abercrombie’s three-goals-and-assist performance against the 95 Giants to place him just a point behind his division-leading teammates.
A pair of power-play goals by Marc Lucier helped the Northern Cyclones forward record a division-best five goals during the Fall Classic, while forward Cooper Matalik paced second-place Tomorrow’s Ice with a team-high four goals, including two during a 7-4 win over the Cyclones.
In the 16U ranks, behind a late overtime goal from Benjamin Musfeldt, the Northern Cyclones edged Ontario Hockey Academy, 4-3, to draw even with the Mavericks at the top of the division standings with identical records. Technically, though, OHA sits alone in first place by registering 10 Fall Classic points behind three regulation victories and the OT loss.
The Cyclones built a late lead by converting on three power plays, including two man-advantage tallies from forward Garrett Sager in the second half, before OHA forward Harrison O’Connor scored his second goal of the contest with 1:09 remaining to force overtime.
The Cyclones’ lone Fall Classic loss came on Friday in a 1-0 thriller against Tomorrow’s Ice to open the weekend. Rocco Malandro netted the game’s lone goal in the first half for TI, which finds itself tied for second place with the Cyclones with a 3-1-0-0 record and eight points. TI fell in its weekend finale, 4-2, to the Atlanta Fire after posting three straight victories to start its ECEL campaign.
On the strength of seven assists, OHA center Nolan Mason leads the 16U division in scoring with nine points, while Tomorrow’s Ice forward Ronan Ivins, Atlanta forward Connor Wise and O’Connor each scored a division-high four goals during the Fall Classic. Between the pipes, the trio of Edward Lewczyk, Micah Laird (shutout) and Jaemeson Keith combined to allow just five goals against for the Northern Cyclones in their four contests.
The East Coast Elite League season will continue with a return to pristine Lovell Arena Nov. 3-5 for the second of the season’s four weekend events, the 2023-24 Holiday Classic