The Washington Jr. Nationals ushered in the new year with a successful showing at the EJHL Winter Showcase in Marlborough, MA on January 4-6. The "EJ Showcase" was represented by every EJHL team as well as teams from the AJHL, EJ South, and various independent prep schools.
The Nationals' first matchup at the showcase was a Friday night game against the Connecticut Oilers of the EJHL. The Nationals started off firing from all cylinders, forechecking aggressively and continuously holding the Oilers in their own zone. As the period progressed, Oilers goaltender Bruce Racine, a former Jr. National, was able to turn away many prime scoring chances in front of the net. As the game progressed however, the Jr. 'Nats were unable to avoid the penalty box and the Oilers capitalized on multiple man-advantages. Connecticut held on to get the win, 3-0.
Saturday at the EJHL Showcase, the Washington Jr. Nationals arrived at the New England Sports Center with an entirely different mentality. The Nationals faced off against the East Coast Eagles of the EJ South, and it was apparent the Nationals had worked out the kinks the night before. Although the Eagles opened the game's scoring with a goal by Connor Kaminski, the Junior Nationals hounded their opposition throughout the first period. With 6:48 left to play in the first, the 'Nats opened the flood gates on East Coast goaltender Bryan Canter. The Nationals received goals from Kyle Summerford, Kevin Collins, and Ryan Gomez, as they defeated the East Coast Eagles, 4-2.
The Nationals faced off against the Palm Beach Jr. Hawks (EJ South) for their final game of the showcase. As each day progressed, Washington improved, and the energized 'Nats put all three periods together in an experienced fashion. The referees called this final game very tight, and both teams saw significant time in the penalty box. However, Washington was able to convert on two power play opportunities as well as a shorthanded goal from Aaron Madsen, and the 'Nats would go on to win 5-1.
Next weekend the Nationals will travel to Hartford, CT for two league games against the Connecticut Wolfpack. The 'Nats have only one more home game this season, as they will take on the Philadelphia Little Flyers at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD on February 24th.
Written by Sam Buck #21