#DineenCupPlayoffs: P.A.L. Jr. Islanders vs. South Shore Kings 

Atlantic vs. New England Championship

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (1) vs. South Shore Kings (2) 

Best Of Five

Thursday, April 11, 4:45 p.m. EST, Northwell Health Ice Center

Friday, April 12, 2 p.m. EST, Northwell Health Ice Center

Monday, April 15, 4:30 p.m. EST, Foxboro Sports Center

Tuesday, April 16, 2 p.m. EST, Foxboro Sports Center*

Friday, April 19, 7:15 p.m. EST, Northwell Health Ice Center*

* = If Necessary 


By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com 


It’s a replay of the 2023 NCDC Dineen Cup Finals that will be hitting the ice on Long Island and in southern Massachusetts this next week, with one glaring exception – the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and South Shore Kings will still have one more opponent to face for the Cup after one of them wins this series. 

With the addition of the Mountain Division this year, that division’s champion will face the New England vs. Atlantic Champion over April 26-28 either at this series winner’s home rink. 

Regardless of the Cup not being awarded at the end of these proceedings, this series still carries a ton of weight, especially in terms of bragging rights. It is a chance for South Shore to avenge their Dineen Cup Final loss of 2023 and dispatch the team they fell to, while for P.A.L., the defending Cup champion and regular season champion (by a lot) gets a chance to reassert their dominance. 

“It’s exciting. [P.A.L. Head Coach Mike] Marcou and I pick each other’s brains all the time on hockey-related topics. He has done a terrific job with that group. The series we had against them last spring was phenomenal. I expect the same,” said Kings Head Coach Tyler Holske. “Most importantly, they are a group that knows how to win. They have played a lot of meaningful games over the past two seasons. They are deep up front and have a great goaltender. It will be important for us to match their intensity. Ultimately, we just need to continue to play to our identity to have success.”

“We are excited for this opportunity to play South Shore. Tyler is a great Coach and we have developed a fun rivalry. We know we have the target on our back,” said Marcou. “They are a really strong team that is well-coached. We know that this is going to be the toughest series yet. We haven’t played them since the very beginning of the season in which they beat us both games. We are excited to get the opportunity to play them again.” 

Indeed, during the regular season, the teams faced each other twice within the space of six days, first at the BJB Shootout and then at the Hitmen Classic, both in October. South Shore won both games, 3-2 and 4-1, respectively. File those games with books on ancient Egypt and Rome, if you get the drift. The teams have made moves and seen lineup changes since then and are coming to Game 1 on Long Island more seasoned and battle-proven. Marcou knows that this’ll be a tight series and, with a pair of NCAA Division 1-committed goalies in P.A.L.’s Nicholas Bevilacqua (Bentley) and South Shore’s Ryan Keyes (Merrimack), goals will be at a premium. 

“The key for us is to stick to our game plan and identity,” Marcou said. “We know that they have the ability to score and play a 200-foot game. We have to manage the neutral zone and make sure we don’t allow them to transition. Ryan Keyes is a really good goalie, so we need to make sure we are focused on capitalizing our scoring chances when we get them.”

Keyes, who just announced his Division I commitment following the Kings’ sweep against the New England Division regular season champion Islanders Hockey Club, has gone 5-0 so far in the playoffs, as has the entire team.  

“The attention to detail and focus from our group has been outstanding,” said the Kings’ Coach Holske, about their streak so far in the postseason. “The guys are working as a five-man unit in all three zones. Every game we have played up until this point has been a battle.”

The series against the Islanders definitely wasn’t handed to South Shore – they started out with a double-overtime game, won 4-3 on April 2. Keyes then stopped all 28 IHC shots in Game 2 for a 4-0 shutout victory, before the Kings closed the proceedings with a 6-2 win on April 6. 

One major takeaway from the Kings’ series with the Islanders is making sure the emotions – especially among those who played in last year’s final series – are kept in check when they face P.A.L.

“It will be important for us to stay composed in all situations. We will have to play smart and disciplined to have success against a very good P.A.L. team,” said Holske. 

P.A.L. started out well enough against the Atlantic’s No. 2 seed Mercer Chiefs, winning Game 1, 6-1. But Mercer turned it around and were able to win Game 2, 2-1. The Jr. Islanders’ potent offense, held at bay in Game 2, broke out for wins of 7-4 and 5-0 – Bevilacqua earning a 35-save shutout to clinch the series. 

“We knew going into the series with Mercer that it was going to be a battle. Coach Broderick is a great coach who gets his guys to work and play hard,” said Marcou. “I think that we played a solid 200-foot game for the majority of the series. We are a team that really focuses on development throughout the regular season. We roll all four lines throughout the whole year and I think that our depth scoring really stepped up. We played Games 3 and 4 without our top scorer Ty Broad, so we needed guys to step up and that’s what they did.”