ASTON, Pa. -- Three games into the season, the Little Flyers EHL Premier team is working out a few kinks.
Lines and defensive pairs are still being sorted out. Special teams are a work in progress. But one thing hasn’t changed: This group doesn’t give up.
The Little Flyers erased a 3-0 deficit but ran out of gas in a 6-3 loss to the New Jersey 87s at IceWorks Skating Complex on Saturday afternoon. The second half of the back-to-back set between the two South Division rivals will be played Sunday evening.
William DiStefano, Johnny Lee and Anthony Conti all found the back of the net for PLF. Ronan Marley made his second start of the 2020-21 campaign, making 20 saves.
Philadelphia certainly came out buzzing. A strong shift from forwards Chris Claybomb, Jake Findley, Lee and defensemen Tyler Law and DiStefano set the tone early. The five-man unit had New Jersey pinned in its own zone for nearly a minute and produced five quality scoring chances.
Jon Rineer, Patrick Price and Kelly Stroik followed that up with another relentless 45 seconds of offensive-zone time but 87s netminder Matt Corella was up to the task. Corella finished the afternoon with 24 saves on 27 shots.
Michael LoRicco opened the scoring at 16:54 for New Jersey off a Brock Forrest pass. Chris Cicarello made it 2-0 with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening period.
The 87s continued to roll early in the second. Ivan Borisov picked up his first tally of the day just two minutes and 40 seconds into the frame.
DiStefano gave the Little Flyers a much-needed response three minutes later. Nicholas Bouchard won a puck battle behind the net and quickly tried to feed Jack Ellis in front. Ellis’ attempt went wide but Bouchard was still in position to recover and found DiStefano at the point for a quick one-timer to make it 3-1.
The Claycomb-Findley-Lee unit continued its strong play at 11:49. Findley wrapped around the 87s’ net and made a backhanded pass to Claycomb in front. Claycomb was tied up but kicked the puck over to Lee backdoor. Lee had a kick of his own right onto his stick blade and deposited his first goal of the season to cut New Jersey’s lead down to one.
The Little Flyers tied things up five minutes into the third period on Conti’s second marker of 2020-21. Stroik did some nice work down low to poke a pass through to Price, who set up Conti at the blue line.
New Jersey spoiled any comeback attempt when Borisov netted his second goal of the afternoon at 6:23, however. Philadelphia couldn’t recover but pressed until the end of the third.
Unfortunately, the Little Flyers’ desperation led to some breakdowns and undisciplined play. Luke Stakowski scored while the 87s were shorthanded to give his team a 5-3 lead.
A Conti tripping penalty late then led to a Satkowski power-play tally to put the game out of reach at 6-3.
Bouchard extended his point streak to three games (2G, 4A). … DiStefano and Lee each scored their first career junior goals with the Little Flyers. … Trey Mattern played the final seven minutes and 10 seconds, making three saves in relief of Marley. … Philadelphia went 1 for 5 on the power play and killed three of its four penalties. … The Little Flyers and 87s will battle again at 5:45 p.m. Sunday at IceWorks.