Foxboro, MA - The Jersey Hitmen are once again EJHL regular season champions. This is the second title in the past four seasons for the Carolina blue and navy club. The Hitmen captured the title behind an electric offense and extremely stingy defense. In 43 regular season games, the Hitmen have accrued 265 goals while allowing only 78 goals against, both tops in the EJHL. They have also been dynamos on special teams this year. On the power play, the Hitmen lead the EJHL in power play goals for with 72 and power play percentage at 34.12%. On the flip side, the Hitmen penalty kill was equally impressive as they posted an 88% with a man down, only surrendering 19 power play goals against all season. Another bright stat was that the Hitmen lead the league with 12 shorthanded goals for, almost negating the power play goals against for the season.
On the individual front, the Hitmen players have put up some pretty staggering numbers. Hitmen captain and UNH recruit, Matt Willows, currently leads the league in scoring with a 27-43-70 line. He is closely followed by assistant captain, and Sacred Heart recruit, Brian Sheehan (23-44-67) who sits second in the league. The top EJHL rookie scorer is University of Maine recruit, Connor Leen, who has followed up on his tremendous Empire League campaign with a 22-40-63 scoring line, good for 3rd in EJHL scoring. The Hitmen then round out the top 23 EJHL scoring list with 7 more players, Max Novak (8th), Brandon Stroud (11th), Craig Kitto and Steven Swavely are both tied for 12th, Jesse Petito and Tim Clifton are tied for 16th, and Justin Bruckel sits in 23rd with a 21-26-47 scoring line.
In the defensive category, the Hitmen have 4 defenseman on the top 20 scoring list, led by Ian Coleman who currently sits second in defensive scoring with a 6-27-33 line. He is followed by Connor Frick and Andy Latta who are tied with 24 points good for 12th in EJHL scoring, then Peter Ryan who sits in 18th with a 4-18-22 line. In the goaltending category, Quinnipiac recruit, John Nauta, has sat atop the league all season, racking up some amazing numbers. Nauta is currently first in the following EJHL league categories: wins (23), regulation losses (1), shut outs (6), goals against over 1400 minutes played (40), goals against average 1.62 and save percentage .939. Nauta has been a force all season, only giving up more than 3 goals on two occasions in 34 starts.
"It has been a tremendous season to this point," commented coach Harris. "The boys came into camp in shape, hungry and ready to go, and up to this point they have attained two of the three team goals that they have set for themselves. We know as a team we still have a ways to go, but I could not be more proud of what these boys have accomplished thus far. It has been a pleasure to coach these boys, and I look forward to where we go from here as there is still a lot of hockey to be played."
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)