Juniors Journal: Massey carries Jr. Stars back into contention
by Shawn Hutcheon/Contributor
Each hockey season, it seems as if a team that struggled at the beginning of the year makes steady improvement and emerges as a playoff contender, such is the case with the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Rochester Jr. Stars. Several Rochester players have become key contributors to their club’s climb up the standings but no one has made as much of an impact as first year goaltender Will Massey.
For his efforts last week, Massey, a native of Penfield, New York, was named the EJHL’s Rookie of the Week. Friday, in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Boston Jr. Bruins, he stopped 25 of 29 shots. The next two nights, Massey reeled off two wins over the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs by closing the door on 63 of 67 total shots. That is 88 saves on 96 shots over the three games.
The 18-year-old rookie has won five of the Stars’ last six contests improving his overall record for this season to 13-8-0-0. He is seventh in the league in wins and is among the circuit’s leaders with 612 saves. His goals-against average of 2.99 and .908 save percentage are among the top goaltenders in a very offensive-minded league.
Thanks to Massey, the Rochester Jr. Stars have the opportunity to be a playoff team in the EJHL. The team is currently in fourth place in the circuit’s Northern Division. It trails third place Valley Jr. Warriors by five points and has a schedule which features Dineen Cup contenders Boston Jr. Bruins, Islanders Hockey Club and Springfield Jr. Pics. With Massey minding the crease, Rochester could move past Valley and be positioned for a deep playoff run.
Game of the Week
The No. 4 ranked New Jersey Rockets face off against the No. 3 New York Bobcats at Newbridge Arena in Bellmore, N.Y. on Feb. 5.
The Bobcats occupy sixth place in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League while the Rockets currently sit in eighth place, however, only seven points separate the two clubs.
New York is 4-5-1 in its last ten contests. Conversely, New Jersey is 5-4-1 during its last ten games.
The two clubs have met three times this season. The Bobcats have won twice (7-2, 7-6). The Rockets when 7-2 in their victory in the season series. Those scores prove that we can expect plenty of goals being scored on Tuesday.
1) Jersey Hitmen (33-5-0-0-0)
Since Oct. 10, the Hitmen have won 30 of 31 Eastern Junior Hockey League contests. Need we say more? Jersey’s next game will be against the Boston Bandits Feb. 9.
2) Rochester Jr. Stars (18-14-0-4-0) After picking up four of a possible six EJHL points last week, the Jr. Stars will hope to gain four more from a weekend series in Connecticut versus the Oilers.
3) New York Bobcats (19-12-1-1)
After spending the first month of the season in first place in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League, the ‘Cats have descended to sixth in the league standings. New York will try to make up some lost ground this week in a two-game series against the Philadelphia Little Flyers.
4) New Jersey Rockets (14-17-4-1)
Just one point behind seventh place Philadelphia Junior Flyers in the AJHL, the Rockets will look to move up in the standings with tilts against the New Jersey Titans and the Philadelphia Junior Flyers.
5) New York Apple Core (14-19-0-4-0)
The struggling Apple Core (fifth place in the EJHL’s Southern Division) will face off twice this weekend versus the Philadelphia Revolution at home in Brewster, N.Y.
6) New Jersey Titans (12-23-2-0)
In tenth place in the AJHL, the Titans chances of qualifying for the playoffs are dwindling. They will hope to keep those chances alive this weekend against the Philadelphia Little Flyers and New Jersey Rockets.