10th ECEL Cup champion to be crowned
OHA attempts to sweep 18U, 16U playoffs at International Skating Center of Conn.
By Kevin Conway
SIMSBURY, Conn. – The 10 th annual East Coast Elite League playoffs tournament is
set to take to the ice at the International Skating Center of Connecticut Feb. 9-11
with one league member intent on transporting a pair of coveted ECEL Cups back
over the border after the weekend.
Ontario Hockey Academy earned the No. 1 seed for both the 18U and 16U
divisions with the elder Mavericks attempting to run the ECEL table on their way
to claiming an historic title.
18U OHA dominated play during the regular season, going a perfect 12-0-0-0
while giving up less than 10 goals against—relying on three different starting
goaltenders who combined for seven shutout victories—and outscoring their
opponents by an impressive 54 goals. The Mavericks were in complete control in
all aspects of the game, including special teams, where they netted 12 power-play
goals while also scoring more shorthanded goals (4) than goals against (3) on the
penalty kill during the season.
Five Mavericks occupy positions on the league scoring top 10 list with forward
Theodor Abercrombie sitting at the top with 17 points (9-8—17). Meanwhile,
teammates Thorvald Naess (7-10—17), Jeremy Deschambault-Perron (10-3—13),
Vincenzo Di Rocco (6-7—13) and Denis Kostolanyi (5-4—9) round out the top 10.
In addition to Naess, Abercrombie is actually tied with two other players for the
most points in the division, including New York Saints forward Nicholas Feeley,
who leads the entire league with 14 goals in only eight games played. The Saints
are the third seed in the 18U division behind the second-seeded Northern
Cyclones, who are led by forwards Brady Stevens (7-10—17) and Marc Lucier, the
division’s second leading goal scorer with 12.
OHA goaltenders Jesse Nuccio (3 shutouts), Hakon Eskeland (2 shutouts) and Josh
Arsenault (2 shutouts) all started four games for the Mavericks during the regular
season with Nuccio leading the league behind a .976 save percentage and
miniscule 0.25 goals-against average, having surrendered just a single goal.
Meanwhile, in the 16U Division, the front-runner for the crown isn’t nearly as
clear even though Ontario Hockey Academy claimed the top seed. Northern
Cyclones (8-4-1-0) finished with a similar record as OHA (8-4-0-1) but two points
behind based points awarded for overtime results. However, both the third-
seeded Atlanta Fire and fourth-seeded Tomorrow’s Ice can’t be overlooked
thanks to their offensive prowess.
Atlanta boasts five of the top 10 scorers in the division with Zach Iannone and
Connor Wise having both netted a 16U-best nine goals along with Tomorrow’s Ice
defenseman Ronan Ivins. However, it’s Fire defenseman David Zavulunov who
leads the division in scoring with 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists).
The Cyclones’ goaltending, meanwhile, may emerge as the secret to their ECEL
playoff success. Jaemeson Keith (5 games, 1.67 GAA), Micah Laird (5 games, 1.81
GAA), and Edward Lewczyk (2 games, 0.00 GAA) all posted a shutout victory
during the regular season and own three of the four highest save percentages for
the division. TI netminder Thomas Prate and Fire goalie Milo Pricinsky also
turned in sub-2.00 goals-against average totals, while OHA’s Sasha Bravo
registered a division-high four victories in six starts.
The East Coast Elite League playoffs will begin Friday with a three-game
preliminary round for both divisions. The top four teams after the opening round
will advance to the semifinals on Sunday morning. Semifinal winners will square
off for the ECEL Cup later that afternoon.