On paper, a 5-2 loss doesn’t look great.
The Philadelphia Little Flyers EHL team, however, can take quite a few positives out of Friday afternoon’s effort against the New Jersey 87s at Jersey Shore Arena.
Jakub Kubik was steady between the pipes. The top line of Dante Gattone (1G, 1A), Tyler Marvil (1G, 1A) and Aaron Catron (2A) combined for six points. The defense held the 87s’ potent offense off the board for nearly 35 minutes. The penalty kill went a perfect 4 for 4.
New Jersey, a league-best 10-0-1 this season, didn’t receive contributions from the usual suspects of Kei Yasuda and Nick Swain but took over the third period to drop Philadelphia to 3-6-0 so far in 2020-21.
The opening frame saw PLF showcase some stingy defense. Kubik turned aside all eight shots he faced and his teammates did a stellar job closing up passing lanes.
The Little Flyers came out buzzing in the second. Gattone sprung Marvil for a breakaway attempt but 87s netminder Jeremy Connor came up with a big blocker save.
That didn’t discourage the first unit’s attack. Shortly after, Jake Frankenfield made a nice keep at the blue line and pushed the puck deep down low to Catron, who dished to Marvil behind the net. Marvel’s centering attempt was blocked but Catron outworked a New Jersey defender to pick up the loose puck and make a quick pass to Gattone in front. Gattone took a quick snapshot and gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 1:40.
The trio continued to push the pace midway through the frame. Catron set up Frankenfield for a point blast and later found Marvil in the slot during the same shift but Connor managed to stop both opportunities.
Kubik, who faced 20 total shots in the second, responded with a sprawling save at 11:18.
The 87s finally solved the Czech native at the 14:30 mark. Kubik made an initial save but a bouncing puck landed on Matthew Bielinski's blade and he tied things up at 1-1. Three minutes later, Tim Debord buried a feed from Dante Terramni to put New Jersey up 2-1 heading into the third.
Marvil briefly halted the 87s' momentum at the start of the final period. The 2000 birth year took advantage of a nice pokecheck by Gattone in the high slot and fired a wrister past Connor to tie things at 2-2.
Kubik did his best to keep things interesting, making a save on a 3-on-1 rush and then back-to-back stops on a 3-on-0 before New Jersey rattled off three consecutive goals from Ben Gibbons (7:35), Everest Scneider (9:30) and Ty Carter (11:30) en route to its 10th victory of the season.
Catron recorded two assists in his Little Flyers debut. … Kubik finished with 38 saves on 43 shots. … Gattone has one goal and three assists during his current three-game point streak. … Philadelphia went 0 for 4 on the power play … Next up for the Little Flyers is a rematch with the 87s on Friday, Nov. 6 at IceWorks Skating Complex. Puck drop is scheduled for 11 a.m.