It’s been a busy off-season for the Garden State’s Eastern Hockey League organizations, the New Jersey 87’s and the Protect Jr. Ducks, and these clubs finally have a date on when they can drop the puck on the 2020-21 campaign.
The Eastern Hockey League (EHL), and its subsidiary developmental junior hockey league, the Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP) division, will open on September 18th.
Both New Jersey programs will open at home.
The Jr. Ducks, who made a splash in July by inking the EHL’s top returning point producer Brayden Patricia, will hit the ice for a Saturday night tilt with the New York Apple Core on Sept. 19th at 7 p.m.
While the Jr. Ducks will embark on their inaugural EHL campaign, the 87’s are setting up for their fourth EHL and EHLP seasons, after a particularly disappointing end to the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19.
“Obviously, how the year ended, and seeing what is going on in the world since that time, the schedule release gives us some sense of normalcy,” 87’s Head Coach Adam Houli said to the Shore Hockey Report. “Knowing we have a start date allows our guys to mentally prepare for the upcoming year.”
When last season came to an abrupt end, the 87’s had skated to the top of the Mid-Atlantic division in both the EHL and EHLP. When the clubs return to action this year, they’ll do so without several high profile players who have moved on to the NCAA level, including former captain, Trevor Cear, a Jackson Memorial and Brick Hockey Club alum who will suit up for UMass-Dartmouth.
However, the 87’s are returning a number of skilled players from last year’s rosters, including a slew of local skaters and netminders, like St. John Vianney alum Jeremy Connor.
“We’ve made some great strides in three years, but I believe this season we have the pieces to make a serious run at both levels,” Houli added. “We have exceptional veterans returning, and our rookies really excite us. I know this year will be special, from our upcoming college placements to our overall organizational success.”