The Philadelphia Brawlers play in one of the toughest divisions in the AIHL’s Elite League. They finished the regular season with an impressive 19-4-1 record and earned the advantage of hosting all potential playoff games at their home rink “Choice Inline” in Sewell, NJ. After jumping out to a quick 6-0 record in the season, the Brawlers went through a tough stretch in which they lost five of eight, including two to the Grizzlies, who they later defeated in the division final in two straight games. That tough patch of games for the Brawlers also stretched through the mid February Festival, which they ended with a 2-2 record. The two losses during that event came at the hands of the Long Island 495ers and Buffalo Fusion, two potential next round opponents for the Brawlers. After having their struggles mid-season the Brawlers finished the season on an eleven game winning streak and carried that success into the playoffs.
The Philadelphia Liberty gave the Brawlers a fight in the first round, taking them to a third game in the best of three series, but the Brawlers prevailed with an impressive 9-2 victory in game three to move onto the Grizzlies in the Division Final. The much anticipated Final saw a great 6-5 game one and a dominant 4-0 game two that earned the Brawlers a sweep and their first trip to the league Championship weekend, this year in Pittsburgh, PA.
During the regular season the Brawlers were led by the consistent play of forwards Gene Gsell (44pts), Jim Redstreake (34pts), & Tristan Gardner (30pts). They are particularly strong on defense with players like Mike Keating, James McGrath, Marcus Fajardo, Jack Phelan, and the brothers Eric and Kevin Keene. Balanced attack is their strength. JJ Fichter who finished theregular season 10th in scoring for the Brawlers, currently leads the team in scoring in the playoffs, which goes to show that their attack is not dependent on any particular players. The goaltending tandem of Matt Cooper and Joe D’Aloisio has been a good one-two punch all season.
The Brawlers will be a tough opponent for anyone who draws them during Championship weekend and should be considered among the favorites to win.