#DineenCupPlayoffs Play-In Game: Jersey Hitmen vs. Connecticut Jr. Rangers

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLNCDC.com 


The 2024 Dineen Cup Playoffs officially kick off Friday with a pair of Play-In Games, and they kick off a run of over a month of NCDC postseason hockey that will culminate in the Dineen Cup Finals in late April. 

First, the defending Dineen Cup Champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders are awaiting their first round opponent, as that will be decided between the Jersey Hitmen and Connecticut Jr. Rangers. 

The Hitmen rallied with a run of 6-0-1-1 down the stretch to eventually claim fourth place in the Atlantic Division. They finished with a record of 22-25-3-2, while the Jr. Rangers came in at fifth with a record of 22-27-3-0. The Jr. Rangers and WBS Knights both finished with 47 points, but the Rangers won the final playoff spot on a head-to-head points matchup. 

The two teams now get at least one more game for their season. 

“As we work through the week and get deeper into our preparation, the reminder is there to have fun, work hard, and second and third efforts are going to make a world of difference come Friday,” said Rangers Head Coach Jim Henkel. “Our Motto going into the last 10 days has been five days of hard work for five more days. Friday will be 60 minutes to move on and play another five days as a team and group.”

The Jr. Rangers and Hitmen were mostly even throughout the year, though the Rangers won the season series with 10 points (4-2-2-0) vs. Jersey’s eight points (4-4-0-0). The team’s first three games were one-goal decisions, as well as the final matchup, a 5-4 overtime win for the Hitmen.  

“CJR is a very well-coached, physical team with excellent goaltending. They also boast a deep offensive lineup,” added Jersey Hitmen Head Coach Toby Harris. “We had some excellent hockey games versus the Rangers this year and the season series was extremely tight. We are preparing for this game in the same manner that we have been preparing since the new year. The locker room is excited for the challenge!”

“I expect it to be a hard-fought, fast paced game,” added Henkel. “At this point it is up to the players to go out and play, find a way to be productive on the ice and put themselves in a great position to move on. Goaltending has played a significant role in the outcome of all eight games. 

“It has been a seesaw scenario for both teams in net, we both have had some stellar games by our goaltenders leading us to this point,” Henkel said. “We are focused on making sure we know what is coming our way and be prepared for the unexpected to happen.” 

The Hitmen got great offense this year from William Jasmin (49 points in 52 games), as well as Jack Matsukubo (38 points), Tyler Fogu (29 points) and defenseman Sam Beaulne (28). Goaltending duties for this year were taken on mostly by Daniel Moor, an ‘06 who finished 15-10-2-2 with a .924 save percentage. 

The Rangers were led offensively by Max Jaldung (44 points), Jack Houser (42 points) and Colin Richard (31), and Carl Johan Salle led the defense with 28 points. Primo Baldassarre, who put up six shutouts this year, led the way for the Rangers in goal with a. 928 save percentage and 11 wins.