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03/23/2017, 1:45am EDT
By PhillyRev

U19 Elites sweep playoffs to win EHL Elite Championship

It could not have been scripted any better. After maintaining the top spot in the league for the majority of the season, the Revolution defeated the Boston Jr. Rangers in the finals to be crowned the EHL Elite Champions.

The Revolution encountered some adversity towards the end of the regular season, however, they reverted back to dominance in post-season play.

In the first round of playoffs, they swept the opposition in round robin play. Their first round opponents included the Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and the Brewster Bulldogs. Their performance led them to a spot in the Elite finals against the Boston Jr. Rangers.

Many could be found arguing either for or against the Jr. Rangers having a more difficult path to the finals, but each game in the best-of-three match-up between the two teams was determined by one goal. In fact, Game 1 went into overtime where Luke Aquaro deflected the winning goal.

In Game 1, the offensive threats of Luke Aquaro (2000) and Blake Hallman (1998). Aquaro put forth the game-winning goal and 3 assists, while Hallman assisted on the game-winner and two others and scored once. Revolution’s other goals came from PJ Breslow (unassisted power play), Riley Dohner, and Alex Pelletier. Goaltender Chad Simmerman shined bright throughout the contest as he stopped 34 of the 38 shots he faced.

Game 2 started to look as if the Jr. Rangers had already packed it in as they went down 3-0 until past the midway point of the game. Before the Jr. Rangers scored their first goal with 5:47 remaining in the second period, the Revolution’s Anthony Bench, Luke Aquaro, and Blake Hallman scored. Before the second period concluded, the Jr. Rangers would put up another goal to bring the score to a much tighter 3-2.

It was inevitable that Anthony Bench would contribute some way to the game-winning goal, and he did just that by making chance after chance happen until scoring 6:32 into the third period. Defenseman Jake Houk also had an impressive game which included having the primary assist on Bench’s tally. Hallman would get credited the secondary assist for his third helper. Simmerman would get the nod for the championship winning game and he didn’t let anyone down. He turned in spectacular and sometimes even mind-boggling saves. In total, he faced 31 shots and stopped 28.

For his 2 goal, 6 assist stat-line for the finals, Blake Hallman was named the TSR Hockey Top Performer of the series.

“Winning the championship was a culmination of efforts put forth by a very special group of young men,” said Head Coach Justin Grevious. “I’m extremely proud of each and every one of their efforts. They deserved this.”

This was years in the making for President and General Manager Chris Kanaly. Kanaly had started his stint with the Revolution as the Goalie Coach before being promoted to running every facet of the organization. His post-game locker room speech to the team after Game 2 clearly reflected his journey with the program. A journey that endured tumultuous times until he overhauled every detail of the junior program to instill the culture of excellence it has blossomed into today.

When asked to elaborate on his address to the Championship winning team, Kanaly replied, “I told them how proud I am to be associated with this group of special hockey players. This season would have been something to be proud of even without winning it all, but I knew the team wanted to prove they had what it took to go all the way.”

Throughout the game, the General Manager kept half his attention on the game while the other half was stolen by his phone’s almost 100 text messages and phone calls from former players keeping up with the game online. Some of the players had been a part of the Revolution’s first season and all were rooting the team to win.

The championship is the first in franchise history for the organization at any level.

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