MIDDLETOWN, NJ -- The New Jersey 87’s know how teams coming up to soccer’s Premier League from the EFL Championship feel.
The 87’s, who played this year in the EHL Premier, the developmental tier of the Eastern Hockey League, have moved to the top tier for 2018-19. They will also maintain their developmental team within the EHL Premier for next season.
“It’s just another level of commitment and dedication to your craft,” said Adam Houli, owner and head coach of the 87’s, who operate out of Middletown, N.J. “We’re just really focusing on the hockey side. We believe doing the little things right will lead to success. From game day operations to the on-ice product, that focus has helped us to make the jump to the EHL.”
The 87’s had a fantastic first year of existence, going 33-9-2 overall, and making the EHLP playoffs. They fell to the Philadelphia Revolution in their one playoff game.
Five players from that team are expected to make the jump from last year’s EHL Premier team to the EHL squad this year.
“Those who believed in us and trusted the process, and who came and skated with our players and with the [North American League’s] New Jersey Titans, will now have the chance to be in main camp with the Titans,” added Houli.
The Titans don’t make any promises, but they certainly will be keeping an eye on 87’s players and the opportunity is there to earn a look.
“Players believe in our affiliation with the New Jersey Titans, and with the fact that I and my partners work as scouts for the Titans, the players are excited about being around those Tier-2 guys,” Houli added. “We believe there will be some players at camp for the Titans who can make that team out of the [2018-19] 87’s roster.”
He said that the team is down to looking for “one or two forwards and a defenseman,” but that they have the majority of their first EHL roster in place. They went to Minnesota twice, Missouri and Wisconsin once each and they scouted local Northeast Corridor events, as well.
Along with the EHL, the 87’s EHL Premier team is also essentially in place.
“It has become very contagious to become an 87. Hopefully, we’ll have a young team at the EHL Premier level with players that can move to the EHL in a year or two,” added Houli. “From there, after a full season of EHL, they can get their Tier-1 or Tier-2 junior or NCAA commitments.”
BOSTON, MA -- This past week, Mike McPherson of the Boston Jr. Rangers made his commitment to Plymouth State University for the Fall of 2018. With his decision finalized, the native of Somerville, MA joins a growing list of players who've worked their way up from the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP), to the Eastern Hockey League (EHL), and then on to NCAA Hockey. The 2015-16 Most Valuable Player benefitted greatly from the year he spent in the EHLP.
"We just finished the third season for our development division, and the EHLP has grown tremendously since we we kicked things off prior to the start of the 2015-16 season," said Mark Kumpel, the EHLP's Director of Hockey Operations. "The intentions for the league were really quite simple, as we wanted it to help develop the players for the next step up our ladder. The numbers speak for themselves as more and more players continue to go from the EHLP, to the EHL, and on to NCAA Hockey."
In the first season of the league (2015-16), the EHLP saw a handful of players make their commitments to NCAA programs, including players such as Ray Feeley and Ryan Wagner. Since that season, the EHLP has put together back-to-back years of 15+ NCAA Commitments. While there have still been some direct EHLP to NCAA Hockey commitments, the majority have followed the EHLP-EHL-NCAA pattern.
Below you'll find a combined list of NCAA Commitments from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Highlighting just this past season in particular, a record 32 EHL players with EHLP experience, made their NCAA Commitments for this upcoming Fall.
BOSTON, MA -- The Eastern Hockey League Premier is pleased to announce that Jake Drucker (New England Wolves), Anthony Shrum (Philadelphia Revolution), and Wes Gilbert (Central Penn Panthers) have been named the 2017-18 Student-Athletes of the Year. Each player turned heads both on the ice and off the ice, exemplifying the idea of being a 'student-athlete.' Whether it was community service hours, or additional time spent studying, each individual set themselves apart from the rest. For this year's new award in the EHLP, each team submitted their own candidate and the league officials determined the final award winners.
"Just like our new Humanitarian Award, we sought out to find a way to honor some of the top individuals in the EHLP," said Mark Kumpel, the EHLP's Director of Hockey Operations. "Our organizations are helping these players grow as young men, and much of this growth takes place away from the rink. Of course what takes place on the ice is important, but all the college coaches also ask about what takes place when our guys aren't playing hockey. The college coaches are looking for players who will help them win hockey games, but also earn an education while they play. These three individuals all have very bright futures ahead of them, because they are dedicated to aspects of their life other than hockey. On behalf of the EHLP, I would like to congratulate Jake, Anthony, and Wes, for all the work they put in this past year."