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Junior News
 
MJHL: Sweep at Presidentsí Day Showcase
Posted: February 16, 2015
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#5 | Tony Francescon

Walpole, MA  - This past weekend was a litmus test for the Express. The boys were slated to face three of the top six MJHL teams in terms of points over a 36-hour period of time. The Express are in a heated chase with the Boston Rangers for possession of the coveted top spot in the Mullen Division. This showcase was also a measuring stick to show how the Express might stack up in the playoffs that start March 5 in Cromwell, Conn.

Thanks to a lot of hard work, the Express successfully extended their winning streak to seven games -- the longest of the year – as well as hit the 30-win plateau for the season. With four games remaining on the schedule the Express have the ability to surpass two of the goals set forth by the staff at the beginning of the year: to win more than 30 games and to lose fewer than 11 games in regulation.

Game 1
The first game versus the New York Applecore started with the Core taking 2-0 lead through the first period. Not having played since January 25, the Express looked rusty and their play suffered a bit. Fortunately, the second period was a different story. Dylan Carabia scored his first of two goals in the game. A string of saves by Devin Day preserved the tie going into the third period. Early in the third period the Core took a 3-2 lead but the Express quickly tied the game and forced overtime. OT solved nothing and the Express went to the shootout, where Austin Mininger scored the winning goal.

Game 2
The next tilt against the Avalanche started much as the first with the Express down 1-0 early. A series of penalties prevented Walpole from taking the lead. Luckily for the Express, Holden Biebel – who was injured during the game – unleashed some offensive firepower to tie the game at 1-1. The game went back and forth for the next two periods with both teams trading chances. They went onto overtime at 2 apiece once again. In OT, Kirk Underwood was the hero, making a strong individual effort out of the corner to beat the Avalanche goalie. Brian Holmberg was in net for the win stopping 36 of 38 shots.

Game 3
Later that night the Express faced the Long Island Royals. The Express went up 3-0 early, with goals by John Heffernan, Chris Nunnink and Ryan Wagner. The Royals added a late goal in the first to cut the lead to 3-1. The Express relaxed with the lead and the Royals started a comeback scoring two quick goals in the second period to tie the game at 3. Once again the Express needed overtime to decide the game. The Express and Royals went back and forth with chances in OT and finally on a late rush by Mininger broke the tie to take the win. The Express had one more game to complete the sweep.

Game 4
The next morning, the Express faced the New Jersey Renegades. Despite nursing a lot of injuries and tired bodies after a long weekend of competition, the Express dug deep to gut out a 5-2 win, running on fumes and satisfaction of their accomplishements. Goals were scored by Mininger, Cody Larkin, Brady Cunningham, Tony Francescon and Marshall Blackman. Holmberg was in net for the win, stopping 36 of 38 shots.

The MJHL Express are in action this week -- on Wednesday against the Connecticut Nighthawks; Friday against the Vermont Lumberjacks; and Saturday against the Valley Junior Warriors. The Express will return for a final game against the Hartford Wolfpack at some point during the week of February 23. The Express are now 30-9-1 on the season and are two points behind the Rangers for first place in the Mullen Division.

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