As the Patriots took the ice last weekend they did so with only two players in the line-up (for either team) having any experience playing at the level they were about to compete in.
The Empire squad would rely on only 1994 birth year Miles Miller and 1995 birth year Robert Stone to lend advice on playing at the Empire level. Miller, a speedy forward saw several games with the Patriots Empire squad last year, while Stone appeared on the blue line in just two games.
The Empire team dropped its first game to the Eagles 5-0. “Our guys seemed tentative throughout the game,” remarked Coach Steve Sherman, “We didn’t battle or win races and it simply led to a loss. We were not resilient when a mistake would be made” In the second game The Patriots dominated the first two periods and went to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead thanks to a power play goal from newcomer Tyler Nolan. GM RJ Zeigler stated “Tyler (Nolan) was the most dynamic offensive player on the ice for our Empire squad on Sunday. He used his speed and hands to make things happen quite frequently when he was out there. I was really impressed.” Unfortunately the Empire team would learn another lesson the hard way, this time on playing a full sixty minutes. Four third period goals by the East Coast Eagles would hand the Patriots their second loss to open the season. Despite the two losses, Coach Matt Little did not seem worried. “1/2 of our team has not played juniors at all. Most are coming from Tier II and in a lot of cases not even AA. We are asking a lot of them if we expect them to make the adjustment in 48 hours. Almost everyone showed improvement and that’s what I wanted to see. Rome was not built in a day.”
The EJHL South squad entered their first weekend without a single player with any Junior “A” caliber playing experience. On Saturday the team came out quick, but still went to the locker room after the first tied at zero. Miscommunications and a lack of focus in their own end would lead to three goals by the East Coast Eagles in the second period. While the Patriots battled back and outscored the Eagles 3-2 in the third, it still resulted in a 5-3 loss. Andrew Turgeon would pick up where he left off last year scoring the first goal of the season for the Potomac Patriots EJHL South squad. It was an even strength marker on a great pass from Kevin McDonald. 1997 birth year Cameron Smith would add 2 power play goals in his junior hockey debut.
Sunday morning, upset at the outcome of Saturday night’s match, the Patriots were determined to get 2 points. An early 5 minute major penalty on Travis Reece had the potential to set the Patriots back right away, but young Cameron Smith had different ideas. After blowing by one defenseman in the neutral zone, Cameron drove wide on the other, shielded the puck, pulled it to his backhand while cutting across the top of the crease and put it upstairs for the shorthanded goal. The Patriots would not look back. Two more goals in the second and three in the third buried the grounded the Eagles 6-1. “The scary thing is we progressively got better as the game went on. Even the goal they scored was questionable as to whether it should have counted or not. It didn’t matter though, we just came back stronger,” remarked captain Andrew Turgeon. Turgeon would tally his first hat trick of the season and add an assist on Nathan Marks’ first goal of his young junior hockey career. Marks would add one more later in the third period. Alec Yutzler was solid in net stopping 20 of 21 shots in the win.
Both Patriots teams travel to the HItmen Showcase in upstate New Jersey this weekend for their next action. Be sure to follow the Patriots EJHL South and Empire teams by clicking the links below!
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