New Hampshire Avalanche go Back-to-Back; Eastern Hockey League Champions

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PROVIDENCE, RI — We can officially close the books on the 6th season of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

Following an incredible week at Schneider Arena on the campus of Providence College, we have once again crowned the New Hampshire Avalanche as the Champions of the EHL.

After successfully pulling off the ‘First Year, First Title‘ feat this past season, New Hampshire is now two-for-two after defeating the Philadelphia Little Flyers, 4-3, on March 24.

(Photo: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images)

This year’s EHL Frozen Finals were a phenomenal display of some of the talent that the league has to offer, and a final exclamation point on another milestone season for the #Eshow.

“We just had such an awesome group again this season,” said Avalanche head coach and general manager Chris Cerrella. “There were a few points during the season where I wondered if this group could accomplish what last year’s team did, but that was all confirmed over the past couple weeks. Our group came together as a unit at the perfect time, and as a result, we are champions again. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, and especially the 16 NCAA commits that we will have when all is said and done.”

“Winning it two years in a row hasn’t been done in quite a while,” EHL Director of Hockey Operations Mark Kumpel said with a laugh. “I was probably the last one to do it way back in the old AJHL days with the Walpole Express. It’s not easy to do but it creates a legacy.”


The Eastern Hockey League, which divided into a two-tier system in 2017-18, continues to be a popular path for junior hockey players on the road to the next level. The Division II and III leader in direct-to-college advancement, the EHL only continues to grow in both popularity and viability. Cerrella as well as Avalanche President Mario Martiniello have created a hockey hotbed in southern New Hampshire.

“The Avalanche are a relatively new team but with some old friends with a ton of experience,” Kumpel said. “Chris Cerrella is probably the only other person with more time in the league than myself going back to the old AJHL days. Between Mario and Chris, a lot of experience. Chris always had good teams coaching down in Hartford while Mario always coached good teams in Tewksbury with the Boston Jr. Rangers. You put the two of them together and you have a double-headed dragon in terms of recruiting and coaching. And if you look at the success they’ve had in the win column, the success they’ve had in the college commitment column, it’s quite an accomplishment what they’ve been able to create.”

“Of course that is why we are all here, and that’s to get these players to the next level,” Cerrella, a standout at Quinnipiac from 1997-2001, said. “The tournament in Providence featured so many future collegiate hockey players, and three other great teams in the Little Flyers, Wizards, and Knights. Those are three well-run organizations from the top on down, and this was a great event for everyone involved.”

The New Hampshire Avalanche went 39-6, amassing 78 points to run away with the EHL North Division title. The Avs outscored the opposition 237-93, closing out the regular season on a seven-game winning streak before winning all six games in the post-season.

“It was a long year for them. They didn’t lose too many games and when you do that you find yourselves creating your own emergencies,” Kumpel said. “That’s a sign of a good coach: when you create your own emergencies, coach the team through it and make them better when the real emergency happens. This year you could see it. They went down to the Frozen Four in Providence along with three other good teams, the two best teams met in the championship and boy was that a well-played game. It was fast, physical, both teams had their opportunities and that’s what it’s supposed to be — a great final to end the year.”


Just 19 seconds into the game, Rece Bergeman slide a puck under the right pad of Nathan Pickett to give the Little Flyers the early lead.


Jake Adkins tied things up at one goal a piece with a shot from the right side hash at the 13:30 mark. Niks Krollis had the lone assist on the goal.


At the 7:03 mark of the frame, Nate Dunning took the puck from one end of the ice to the other and beat Pickett blocker side to put the Little Flyers back on top.


The Avalanche captain, Matthew Kassab, collected a drop pass from Krollis in the offensive zone and fired a shot that beat Brawley blocker side to square things up. Matt Gagnon was credited with the second assist on the 4 on 4 goal.




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