The EP Cup Series featured solid goaltending
WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania -- The first leg of the inaugural EP Cup Series is now in the books, with 10 AAA organizations across four age groups between U14-U18 competing at the Ice Line in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“With the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, we were able to get together with seven or eight partners for showcase weekends,” said John Graves President of Philadelphia Jr. Flyers and Ice Line developer. “And at this location, we thought it would be a good idea to have some good hockey.
“This is the first [EP Cup Series] and I think it’s good for everybody to see everybody and have a lot of good teams in the same place. Elite Prospects add a lot to it with all they bring to the table. It’s a great job and even with hurricane Ian, a couple of teams couldn’t get out of Florida, and they did a good job juggling it and still making it a nice event for everybody.”
There were a lot of games and a lot of goaltenders participated and that was impressive. One of the best I saw was Christian Green with the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 18U AAA. He got the win, and he was his team’s best penalty killer. He faced more than his fair share of power plays and never gave up a goal in spite of it, and that included fighting off a five-minute major. He stopped 35 of 37 shots and his athleticism showed.
Kyle McLaughlin plays for the Esmark Stars 15O AAA. In his first game, he stopped 20 of 22 and in another 13-13 for the shutout. He hugs the post well and has a solid glove hand, and I was consistently impressed by how well he moved the puck for a goaltender. He’s poised to have a good season.
Hayden Plimley plays for the Westchester Express 16U AAA. He went 1-1 in a pair of contests with a .908 save percentage. Even so, you can't always blame the goalie for a loss or a less-than-stellar save percentage. Plimley plays a steady brand of hockey in goal. I liked his play in traffic and the way he will go out and grab a puck in traffic to get that stoppage in play. His quick covers saved his team when there was a lot of traffic in his kitchen.
The last goalie I will talk about is Lia Nevo who plays for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers 14U team. She played in two games and posted a .878 save percentage but I’m mentioning her because she has raw ability at the position. There are some good tools there. She has the ability to keep her team in the game. In one of the games, she was pulled early at least three-to-four times and was never frustrated and had great communication with the coach. Safe clears and good puck directs with the pads are a strength. She made a nice 1-on-1 leg save that was slick.
I know there was at least one scout in attendance, and there were probably more without even taking into account those who tuned in online. I know of one NHL team player development coach who was there as well. This tournament will get bigger as the year progresses and that’s good news for the players. They’re the ones who are out there busting it in hopes of moving up the ladder. Having fun is important too and there was a lot of that to go around.