TEWKSBURY, MA -- Earlier this week, the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and Eastern Hockey League Premier (EHLP) released all of the End of the Season awards for the 2019-20 campaign. Along with all the player and coaching honors that were given out, the league also named the Boston Jr. Rangers and the New Jersey 87's as the Organizations of the Year for their respective conferences.
"To be honored as the Organization of the Year in the New England Conference is a nice accomplishment for our program," said EHL head coach and general manager Rich DeCaprio. "While we will forever be asking ourselves the 'what if' question, we are also still very proud of what we accomplished this past year. Keith [Aucoin] and I, are also very proud of all the players that received awards this week."
Starting with the EHL, it's worth the reminder that the Rangers began the season with a record of 1-2-0 in their first three games, and only scored four goals combined in those contests. From there however, the Rangers led the EHL from wire-to-wire, going 38-3-2 in their next 43 games, including a 15-game winning streak. With 208 goals for and 104 goals against, the Rangers featured a balanced scoring attack, while also holding their opponents in check throughout the year. Leading the way on each end of the spectrum were Brent Rickett and Billy Girard.
With 66 points in 45 total games, Rickett was the leading scorer for the Rangers during the 2019-20 season, and was recently named the Forward of the Year in the EHL. As for Girard, in his 2nd year with the Rangers, the talented netminder flourished while setting a new league record with 28 wins in the regular season and being named a Co-Goaltender of the Year. Rickett and Girard account for 2 of the 12 NCAA Commitments so far for the Rangers program.
"We are very happy for Brent," added DeCaprio. "He worked so hard everyday and set goals for himself that he was able to reach. It’s a well-deserved reward and we are excited to see him grow even more at Norwich. As for Billy, he is a tremendous competitor, both in practice and in games. The numbers speak for themselves. Our team's success this year wouldn’t have been what it was without him in the net almost every night."
Rickett was named to the All-EHL team along with Mitchell Haight, while Girard landed on the 1st Team in the New England Conference.
As for the EHLP team, the numbers were pretty similar in comparison to the EHL, starting with the overall record of 34-6-2 during the regular season. With 260 goals for and 105 goals against, the balance was truly consistent throughout the program. Johnny Malandruccolo gave the Rangers their 2nd Forward of the Year honor to go along with Rickett, but the '01 scorer was also named Most Valuable Player of the EHLP as well, after putting up an impressive 112 points (league record 60 goals) in the regular season. Malandruccolo wasn't the only forward that shined however, as Ryan Bailey also reached the 100-point mark with 41 goals and 59 assists.
"Johnny was the most exciting player to watch in the league this year," concluded DeCaprio. "He’s a pure scorer, but also has the hockey IQ that is elusive in so many players. He has a bright future and our team would not have had the success it did without him on the ice. We're looking forward to calling him and Ryan up to the EHL team this fall."
Malandruccolo and Bailey each landed spots on the All-EHLP team, while Max Stephens earned a nod on the 1st Team in the New England Conference.
Overall the Rangers program took home an MVP award, both Forward of the Year honors, a Co-Goaltender of the Year award, and six different players claimed spots on either All-League or All-Conference teams. On top of all that, the icing on the cake was the Organization of the Year recognition.
While every player in the organization is happy with their decision to play for the Rangers program, the three major award winners took time to express some extra gratitude.
"I’d like to thank Coach DeCaprio and Coach Aucoin along with the Boston Jr. Rangers organization for all the help this year along with each and every one of my teammates and family. Being named the Forward of the Year is an accomplishment I’m honored to receive, but could not have obtained it without their help. With the season ending in the way it did I am proud to have played in the EHL for my age-out year and win a Regular Season Championship with the #1 team in the league!" -- Rickett
"I’m extremely honored and proud to receive this award. I would like to thank Coach DeCaprio and Coach Aucoin for helping me grow and develop as a goaltender. Most importantly I would like to thank my teammates, for without them, this achievement would not be possible." -- Girard
"I’m honored to get each award. It was a great year for my team, which helped a lot in achieving them. I’m thankful for my coaches and teammates on helping me develop as a player, as well as a person." -- Malandruccolo
The common saying throughout all of the sports world next year will be 'unfinished business', and that will surely be the case for the Rangers
While it won't be easy, both teams will look to pick up right where they left off, and get back on the road to the 2021 Frozen Finals.