#DineenCup Finals Team Preview: South Shore Kings 

By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com 


Dineen Cup Finals

South Shore Kings vs. Ogden Mustangs

All Games At Foxboro Sports Center, Foxboro, Mass.

Friday, April 26, 7 p.m. EST

Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m. EST

Sunday, April 28, 4:30 p.m. EST*

* = If Necessary 


The stage is set for this weekend’s Dineen Cup Finals, which will see the New England Division Champion South Shore Kings facing the Mountain Division Champion Ogden Mustangs in a best-of-three showdown.  

The Kings will be the home team for all games, which will be played at Foxboro (Mass.) Sports Center, beginning with Game 1 on Friday, April 26. This will not only be an historic first Dineen Cup Final showdown between a Mountain and Eastern U.S. team in the NCDC, but it’ll be the first overall game between the two distinct areas of the NCDC in its first year as an 18-team league in 2023-24. 

The South Shore Kings finished 36-12-2-2 for the season, giving them 76 points – one behind the New England regular season champion Islanders Hockey Club – and two points behind the Mountain Division regular season and playoff champion Mustangs (37-12-3-1, 78 points). On paper, they are equal, but neither team has a true picture of how they will match up as there is no precedent for East vs. West play. 

“We haven’t played any of those teams, so there’s a lot of unknown there, but both sides are watching video on each other,” said Kings Head Coach Tyler Holske, who has taken his team to a second straight Dineen Cup Final. “They are super competitive, just in terms of their compete level in all three zones. They get in on the forecheck and finish checks, which is something that certainly sticks out.” 

Ogden will also be a bear on special teams, and especially the power play, so for South Shore to stay in games, they’ll need to keep clear of the box. Ogden was third in power play percentage at 22.8, and third in penalty killing at 86 percent. 

“Ogden is a team where their special teams numbers are very good,” said Holske. “It’s going to be very important for us to stay disciplined, and on the other side, when we do get opportunities on the power play, make the best of them.” 

South Shore, of course, aren’t where they are now because of luck. Their own power play finished above Ogden’s, at 26.8 percent. The two teams were almost dead even in goal differential this year, as well. South Shore scored 195 and let up 125 for a +70 (second in the league) and Ogden went 192-123 for a +69. On paper, it’s almost tough to see where one team begins and the other ends. 

“We have a lot of strengths. We’re a very confident group, we don’t really have one or two guys who’ve carried the load for us, we get it done by committee,” said Holske. “Most teams, their top two lines produce the bulk of the offense, and then there’s a drop off, but we have four lines that can score any night.” 

New England Division Goaltender of the Year and Merrimack College recruit Ryan Keyes has been another huge key to victory, as he has been lights-out in the postseason at 8-1-0-0 with a .933 save percentage. He has been in lockstep with the Kings’ defensive corps, as well. 

“For us, it starts on the back end, obviously, with Keyes who gives us an opportunity to win every night, and that gives some comfort to our guys, but we are very well-balanced on our defensive core,” said Holske. “We have guys who can provide offense from the blue line like [New England Defenseman of The Year] Salvatore Cerrato and Jason Zaccari, and we have players who defend well. Every player is different, but in a good way.” 

He puts a spotlight on Whitford, who was part of the “Original Seven,” those who started with Holske in his first year as head coach and GM in 2022-23 and are still with the team in hopes of winning the Dineen Cup after falling to P.A.L. in 2023. 

“Whitford was more so in a limited role with us last year, so he was able to get experience and see the guys in front of him and what it took to make it this far,” said Holske. “That’ll help us this time around as he’s now one of our top defenders.” 

Joining Whitford in the Kings’ Original Seven are Cerrato, the three Captains Nate Stachowiak, Aiden Lindley and Culin Wilson, as well as forward Kotaro Murase and Karim Gayfullin. 

“They were all obviously a big part of us making it to finals last year and again this year, and the experience those guys got last year is really helping them this time around,” Holske added. 

Six of these players filled the top seven scoring positions for the team. Murase led the way with 55 points, followed by Stachowiak (55 points). Standout ‘05 rookie Jake Kavanagh followed with 50 points, and he was followed on the regular season leaderboard by Cerrato (44), Lindley (42), Wilson (39) and Gayfullin (35). 

Late season pickups Jack DesRuisseaux, a Sacred Heart recruit, and Justin Ryan along with Murase, have all been 1-2 in the playoffs for scoring. DesRuisseaux leads with 10 points and Ryan and Murase are tied for second at nine points apiece. 

Additionally, Holske has seen first-year players such as Samuel Chrenka, Hunter Bruce and Wesley Schwarzmiller stepping up their game even just since the regular season. 

“You can’t always rely on your go-to guys to come up with a goal or blocked shot. Schwarzmiller and Bruce have elevated their games and provided secondary scoring, while Chrenka provides a lot of intensity and a heavy game on the forecheck,” Holske said. 

The Kingdom will be in full swing when the puck drops for the start of the 2024 Dineen Cup finals on Friday!