Monarchs Kick Off Season with 3 Wins in Vermont

The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs travelled north to Burlington, VT this past weekend to participate in the 6th Annual Woodchuck Classic hosted by the Green Mountain Glades. The tournament is a preseason warm-up for EJHL teams as they prepare for regular season play, which begins this coming weekend. Each EJ team plays 3 non-league games against teams from Canadian leagues. The Monarchs would face 3 tough opponents from north of the border, and would come out on the winning side of all 3 games behind the stellar play of 2nd year goaltender Matt Strickrott.
With an injury sidelining Boston College recruit Brian Billett, Strickrott was given the nod to start in all 3 games at the Woodchuck. The team’s first opponent would be the Oakville Blades, the reigning Ontario Provincial League champions. The Monarchs got the scoring started in the game’s 1st half as Connor Toomey made a great move off of a feed from Bobby Deatrick to beat the Blades’ goaltender. The Blades would tie the game 5 minutes into the 2nd half, but Joey Agliato would put the team back ahead with a goal assisted by Trevor van Riemsdyk and Ryan Randall. The game would finish regulation in a tie however, and the final outcome would have to be decided in a shootout. After Tommy Thompson snapped a quick wrist shot by the Blades goaltender, the game would be left in the hands of Monarchs’ goalie Matt Strickrott. He stoned the Blades final shooter and the Monarchs prevailed in the shootout win 3-2.
The team’s 2nd game of the weekend came against the Wellington Dukes, one of the perennial favorites to win the Ontario Provincial League. Just as in their previous game, the Monarchs would score first with Trent Ruffolo burying a feed from team captain Pat Doherty. With 5 minutes remaining in the half, Wellington would even the score at 1, but the Monarchs would strike again before the 1st came to a close, with Jacob Rutt rifling in a feed from Andrew Balzafiore and Doherty. The 2nd half would see the Dukes evening the score yet again at the 17-minute mark, and thoughts of another shootout began to enter all of the Monarchs’ minds. Those thoughts however would be put to rest when Andrew Balzafiore ripped a feed from Tommy Thompson that found the back of the Wellington net. Another solid effort from goaltender Matt Strickrott would help the Monarchs secure the 3-2 victory.
The 3rd game of the weekend against the Orangeville Crushers would be a physical battle that would see the Monarchs pull out a 5-2 win, but not without some difficulty. Ryan Callahan would score in the 1st half to put the Monarchs ahead when he drove home a pass from Christian Cowles. Pat Doherty would give the team a 2-0 lead 5 minutes into the 2nd with assists going to Trent Ruffolo and Ryan Randall. Almost immediately however, Orangeville would cut the lead to 1. UConn recruit Ryan Tyson would answer just 1 minute later though with a nice little second-effort goal assisted by Callahan and Cowles. The Monarchs would pull away with 2 more goals coming off the sticks of Trevor van Riemsdyk and Nick Bundzinski, and finish the weekend 3-0.
The team begins their defense of the EJHL Regular Season title this weekend as they head south to face the Bridgewater Bandits Saturday at 4:35 and then return home for a game with the Bay State Breakers Sunday at 5.