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Key clashes highlight PPHL playoffs opening round

By Kevin Conway, 02/07/24, 10:00AM EST


Key clashes highlight PPHL playoffs opening round

Double top seed Gilmour Academy eying dual crowns in 18U, 16U divisions

By Kevin Conway

TEWKSBURY, Mass. – The puck drops on the second annual Power Prep Hockey League Boys Conference playoff tournament Feb. 17 for a Presidents Day weekend round-robin spectacular at Breakaway Ice Center, home of Boston Hockey Academy.

The eight-team 18U Division and six-team 16U Division will square off in a bracketed preliminary round to determine the semifinal contestants that will clash early on the Monday holiday for the right to play in the PPHL Cup championship contest later that day.

Top-seeded Gilmour Academy is vying for its second straight 18U league crown, carrying a five-game winning streak and 7-2-0-0 record into the playoffs. The Lancers will take on No. 4 Elite Hockey Academy, No. 5 Mount Academy and No. 8 Bourget College in the first round, led by three forwards listed in the division’s top
10 for scoring. Nick Arrington (6-7—13), Johnn Maruna (5-8—13) and Simon Wang (5-7—12) pace Gilmour offensively, while goaltender Ryder Fetterolf started six of the Lancers’ nine regular-season games, posting a 2.67 goal-against average and .906 save percent on the way to registering a 5-1-0-0 record.

Ontario Hockey Academy, the last opponent to defeat Gilmour, is seeded second, finishing a regulation victory (3 points) behind the Lancers. The Mavericks will battle No. 3 American Hockey Academy, No. 6 Boston Hockey Academy and No. 7 Hill Academy in the preliminary round, having defeated two of them already this
season. The OHA-BHA contest to close out the playoff preliminary round Sunday night will notably be the first time the two original PPHL members face each other this year.

The Mavericks regularly roll three balanced-scoring lines with three of their top six scorers residing on the blue line. Defensemen Justin Gregoire, Hugo Beaulieu and Samuel Brunet all have accounted for six points this season, closely following forward teammates Marcus Fjeld (5-6—11) and Oilver Nilgaard (7-1—8).

Meanwhile, OHA is backstopped by 18U All-Star Game co-Player of the Game Oilver Kiraly, who owns a 3.00 GAA and .914 save percentage. Elite Hockey Academy boasts three of the top four scorers in the division in forwards Junsu Kwak (7-11—18), Yahor Osipik (6-11—17) and Michael Azzarone (6-7—13).

In the crease, American Hockey Academy netminders Nicholas Mele (3 starts, 1.65 GAA, .937 save %) and Brendan Carberry (6 starts, 2.67 GAA, .902 save percentage) occupy two of the top three spots in the goaltending rankings sandwiched around No. 2 Jack Barrington (5 starts, 2.36 GAA, .920 save percentage) of Bourget College.

The 16U Gilmour Academy club is the second in league history to advance to the playoffs with a perfect regular-season record in tow, following the feat of the 18U Elite squad in the league’s inaugural season last year. However, unlike EHA managed, the Lancers are attempting to complete the run to the PPHL Cup unscathed.

Gilmour (8-0-1-0) is the division’s top seed, followed closely by American Hockey Academy (8-1-0-0) and Boston Hockey Academy (6-2-0-1). Despite being undefeated, the Lancers barely have a player in the top 10 of the scoring in the division (10 th , Ben Slifko, 5-7—10). However, Gilmour players litter the next five on the list, proving the Lancers’ balanced scoring attack is tough to defend. They also own the goaltender with the league-best goals-against average (1.40) and
save percentage (.940) in Logan Linsz.

BHA, which boasts four players in the top seven of the 16U scoring ranks, will take on Gilmour in the final preliminary-round game, which no doubt will be a key determining factor in the semifinal seedings for Monday. The last time the two squared off was during the season’s first showcase in November when the Lancers held on for a slim 2-1 victory.

BHA standouts occupy four of the top seven spots in the division’s scoring ranks with Yan Krasavin (6-10—16), Nikita Mikhailov (7-9—16), Ali Haan (6-7—13) and Logan Dewar (3-9—12) all within four points of each other.

Meanwhile, AHA, itself winner of eight straight, whose lone loss this season came in the season opener against Gilmour, owns the other top three spots in forwards Lucas Marshall (5-10—15), Dylan Marszalek (6-9—15) and James Burbank (4-8—12). American Hockey Academy also boasts a pair of the divisions best defenders between the pipes with Moises Ballas posting a 1.40 goals-against in five starts and Russell Mackrell registering a .920 save percentage in three contests.