BOSTON, MA -- When the 2017-18 Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP) season gets underway, there will be four new franchises seeking fast starts for each of their respective teams. This season's four new franchises are the Central Penn Panthers, New Jersey 87s, New Jersey Renegades, and Jersey Wildcats. The group is all very excited about getting under the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) umbrella, and each team has their own set of strong goals and aspirations for the future.
The Panthers are coming over to the EHLP from the NA3AHL, and have done a great job developing their players for the next step. The next step is always different across the board, and the Panthers have done well helping each of their players identify the right moves to make. Wil Younger is the President and General Manager of the Panthers, and he knows that the move to the EHLP will only enhance the team's abilities to develop even more talent.
“We were looking at all our options; and we liked the opportunity to join the EHL the best," said Younger. "As an organization, we pride ourselves on development, and with our 20+ year history of player development and advancement we felt that the EHL was the best fit for our club. Ray Ferry [Owner], Garrett Shultz [Head Coach], and I looked at the recent data from the various Tier 3 leagues, and that showed us were we wanted to be.”
For more information on the Panthers, check out the team's official website.
Moving to New Jersey, we come to the other three new franchises, starting with the "true" new organization in the 87s. Playing out the same building as the New Jersey Titans (NAHL), Adam Houli (Head Coach) and his staff wasted no time setting up an affiliation between the two teams. The affiliation has been very beneficial to the 87s so far throughout training camp, and combined with the team's passionate mindset, the future is bright for the EHLP's only brand new team.
"When we pursued entering the Tier 3 world of hockey, our first major concern was stability," said Houli. "Our goal was to become a member of the EHL from the start, we did our research and due diligence and felt strongly that the league had the most upside, protected its players and owners, and allowed us the best opportunity to move players on. For us, the choice was simple and easy. We are very happy to call ourselves a member in this league. Our goals this year are to produce an on and off ice product that the EHL can be proud of. Being in the Premier division, we want to move on as many players in year 2 to higher leagues whether that is in the Eastern Hockey League or Tier 2. We want to have a successful year on ice, establishing ourselves as a prominent junior destination in NJ."
For more information on the 87s, check out the team's official website.
Working our way around New Jersey, our next new franchise is the Renegades, who are also coming over from the NA3AHL. Despite still being over a week away from opening night, the Renegades have been active this off-season forming three separate affiliations with EHL teams.
When you combine the hard work put in by both Cliff Graziano (Owner/Co-Head Coach) and Pete Rossi (Co-Head Coach), with a very solid first weekend of the preseason, we should all keep a close eye on the team in Flemington this year.
“The EHL has gained such a good reputation for being a league that does things 1st class, and we wanted to be a part of that; and as the Co-Head Coach of the team we’re already finding great success showcasing our players to higher levels of play," said Graziano.
Rossi went on to add, “The quality level of competition and advancement for our players made it an easy decision to join the EHL and partner together with affiliates to make the best Tier 3 league in the country.”
For more information on the Renegades, check out the team's official website.
Last, but not least, the final team coming over from the NA3AHL is the Wildcats. Led by the Stanlick family, Jim (Father/Owner) and Justin (Son/Head Coach), the Wildcats bring a strong history to the EHLP. The team's resume only became more impressive this offseason when alum, Brandon Crawley, was drafted by the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL).
"The Wildcats want to continue our tradition of developing players in a league where there is a clear ladder of development," said Justin Stanlick. "By moving into the EHL, this affords our players the opportunity to be seen for the next level while having league support to promote or players to that next level."
For more information on the Wildcats, check out the team's official website.