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ECEL Winter Classic to feature fight to finish atop standings!

01/04/2024, 1:15pm EST
By Kevin Conway

ECEL Winter Classic to feature
fight to finish atop standings

January 4, 2024

By Kevin Conway

Guilford, Conn., - League’s utmost talent on display first during annual 16U, 18U All-Star Games

The third stop on the East Coast Elite League calendar takes place in the Granite State as the annual Winter Classic storms the ice Jan. 5-7 at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, N.H., and Tri-Town Arena in Hooksett, N.H., featuring final regular-season clashes in both the 16U and 18U divisions as well as additional action at the 14U level.

However, the highlight of the weekend will be the seventh annual ECEL All-Star Games, which will kick off the weekend excitement. The best talent the league has to offer will square off early Friday in Hooksett with the 16U All-Stars facing off at 10:45 a.m., followed by the 18U All-Stars at 12:45 p.m.

Coaches for the first- through fourth-place clubs following November’s Holiday Classic showcase event drafted players nominated by each club to create the All-Star rosters for the ECEL Navy and ECEL White squads.

At the 16U level, coaches Jamie Tyrell (Ontario Hockey Academy) and Curtis Morrison (Atlanta Fire) will command the Navy bench, while Greg Lenti (Northern Cyclones) and Mike Shramek (Tomorrow’s Ice) will direct the White club. For the 18U contest, Cody Mallette (OHA) and Jason Slusher (TI) will coach the Navy
team against Tim Plummer (Northern Cyclones) and Tyler Brooks (N.Y. Saints) for the White squad.

The first overall draft picks of both All-Star teams will serve as captains and take part in the ceremonial puck drop during the opening festivities. At 16U, the captains will be OHA defenseman Kaemon Dax Tran (Navy) and Atlanta forward Connor Wise (White), while OHA forward Jeremy Deshambault-Perron (Navy)
and his Mavericks teammate at forward Thorvald Naess (White) will wear the “C” for the 18U contest.

In 16U league action, currently separated by one point, Ontario Hockey Academy and Northern Cyclones are battling for the top seed during the Winter Classic prior to February’s ECEL playoff tournament. Their head-to-head clash Saturday the afternoon at Cyclones Arena will go a long way into deciding the regular-season champion. However, both squad will have to stave off the surging Atlanta Fire, who are within striking distance and play both the Mavericks and Cyclones over the weekend.

Meanwhile, in 18U play, OHA will attempt to complete the regular season undefeated after having already won its first eight games to start the year. The Mavericks have only surrendered four goals against as a team while netting 41 of their own. Their closest contest was a 2-0 win over fourth-place Tomorrow’s Ice in
an extremely physical game during November’s Holiday Classic. The intense rivals will face off against each other again Sunday morning in Hudson to cap the Winter Classic.

Once the battle for standings position is complete, the 2023-23 East Coast Elite League season will culminate Feb. 9-11 in Simsbury, Conn., at the International Skating Center of Connecticut during the league’s 10 th annual playoff weekend.

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