NCDC This Week: Boston Junior Bruins Winning In Push To Seal Up Playoff Spot

By Joshua Boyd / 


The Boston Junior Bruins are certainly on a great roll as they are pushing to seal up the fourth place spot in the New England Division, which would give them home ice advantage in a 4v5 play-in game. However, the Junior Bruins also still have enough games remaining to be able to move up to third place. It’s all part of the ongoing drama everywhere around the league as many teams go under the 10 games remaining mark. We’ll dive into all the playoff positioning scenarios of the teams that finished with at least points as games played over the last week. 


Junior Bruins Win Four In A Row To Begin Push For Better Real Estate

You’ve seen above what has happened in a good way for the Junior Bruins, and they hope to keep this up. They will host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights this weekend for a pair of games that are really crucial for both teams (see the why for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton below), but only so many points are up for grabs. At the showcase, they beat the Rockets Hockey Club, 6-5, and the Jersey Hitmen, 3-2 in a shootout. On Feb. 22, they defeated the Northern Cyclones, 8-5. 

  • The Junior Bruins hit the eight-goal mark, a season-high, for the first time since scoring eight on Jan. 26, 2023, against the former Boston Advantage. 
  • Former Junior Bruins 16U standout Joshua Furman is back with the organization after two seasons with Northfield Mount Hermon, and he currently has a four-game assist streak. He has put up at least one helper in each game going back to Feb. 10 for four total, standing in a three-way tie for longest such streak. 
  • The Junior Bruins were tied after two periods against both the Rockets and Hitmen, but won both, giving them a 7-2-1-0 record in that situation. Their seven wins are second most in the NCDC when tied after 40 minutes.
  • The Junior Bruins improved to 11-3-1-1 in one-goal games and they tied the Provo Predators and the WBS Knights for most shootout wins this season, at three apiece. The Junior Bruins are 3-1 in the 1v1 competition. 


Northern Cyclones Win Three At Showcase To Increase Pressure On Junior Bruins

The Northern Cyclones have gone 3-1, having swept their three games at the Kings showcase before falling in a midweek game. They have nine games remaining and are eight points behind the Junior Bruins. They need to watch over their shoulders for the Twin City Thunder, who won twice at the showcase and also lost by shootout to gain five points on the Foxboro weekend. On the morning of Feb. 23, Twin City is three points back with one game in hand. At the Showcase, the Cyclones defeated the defending champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, 4-1, then the Mercer Chiefs, 4-0, and the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, 3-0. After Foxboro, they fell in an 8-5 game on Feb. 22 to the Junior Bruins. 

  • The Cyclones have earned back-to-back shutout wins three times since the NCDC’s founding in 2017. That season, they got back-to-back blankings Oct. 29-30, with Tomas Kardinal getting the first W and Drennen Atherton getting the second (Atherton is currently playing pro hockey with the SPHL’s Birmingham Bulls). Over the Oct. 21-22 weekend, Pavel Grishin became the only Cyclones goaltender to record back-to-back individual shutouts. Most recently, Paul Dalessio stopped 31 shots against Mercer and Logan Abric stopped all 20 he faced from Connecticut. 
  • Abric’s third shutout of the season put him into a tie for third in the NCDC in that category. 


Twin City Thunder Take Five Points In Huge Performance At Kings Showcase

The Thunder is right on the cusp of breaking through, but they’ll have to dislodge someone to get there. As mentioned above, they’re three points out of fifth place in New England with a game in hand on the team immediately above them, the Northern Cyclones. They put themselves right back into the hunt by going 2-0-0-1 at the Kings Showcase. They defeated the Mercer Chiefs, 3-1, fell in a 2-1 shootout to the WBS Knights, and then defeated the Jersey Hitmen, 4-2, to close the event. The Islanders Hockey Club put a regulation 3-2 loss on the Thunder on Feb. 22. 

  • The Thunder’s victories against Mercer and the Jersey Hitmen were the first two victories for Twin City by two goals this season. 
  • Although the result of the shootout didn’t go their way against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Thunder still have a 4-for-7 success rate to give them a .571 average on goals vs. attempts this season, the second best in the NCDC.
  • The Thunder carry the lowest penalty minutes per game average of 11.26 per game. 
  • Goaltender Jeffrey Kreidler earned his season-best third and fourth consecutive wins against Mercer and Jersey, before the streak was ended against the Islanders Hockey Club. 


Pueblo Bulls Earn Sweep To Stand One Point Out Of Playoff Spot

The Bulls know the challenge they face and they are very much up for it. They currently have one point between themselves and the Idaho Falls Spud Kings who are one point ahead of them and in the fourth place playoff spot. They are coming into this final February weekend off of an 8-4 and 5-1 sweep of the Rock Springs Grizzlies. Idaho Falls currently has two games in hand on Pueblo, so they must win every night that the Spud Kings don’t win essentially in order to draw even. 

  • The Bulls’ five goals in the first period were not only a team-high this year, it was the second-most for any NCDC team in a first period this year. Utica set the high mark with their six goals in the first period on Jan. 7. That is a league high tied with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights’ seven goals in the third period of their Nov. 12. 
  • Pueblo scored on eight of its 10 power play chances to improve to No. 1 overall in the NCDC in power play percentage with a 57-for-193 success rate in 45 games (29.5 percent). 
  • Eddie Paulissian is in a three-way tie for the league’s longest assist streak, at four games. He’s posted five helpers over each game going back to Feb. 9. He also has two goals along the way for a 2-5-7 line in his last four contests. 
  • Will Sinclair is No. 2 in defenseman goal-scoring for the NCDC with 12. Fellow blueliner Nate Farrell is fourth in defenseman scoring with 35 points and Sinclair is eighth with 30 points. 
  • Hunter Hayes has improved to second in overall NCDC goal-scoring with 29, and he’s cracked the top five in the NCDC with 49 points, where he is tied with teammate William Johnson. 


Utah Outliers’ Three-Game Winning Streak Sees Them At Just Four Points Back of Mountain Lead

The Outliers are not only in the Ogden Mustangs’ rearview mirror, they’ve been tailgating them all over Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado for months. Their most recent three victories, including a pair this past weekend against Provo (6-3) and Idaho Falls (5-3) on Feb. 16 and 17, respectively, have seen them pull up to within four points of the Ogden Mustangs – who have won their last two games. Ogden has two games in hand on Utah. 

  • Daniil Chuparnov is tied for the league’s longest goal streak – three games – and has the most productive current run with five goals in that stretch. He enjoyed his first hat trick on Feb. 17 against Idaho Falls. 
  • The Outliers led after the first and second against the Predators en route to that first win of the weekend. They are 20-0-0-1 when leading after two, the only NCDC team to not have lost in anything but a shootout when up after 40 minutes. 
  • They were tied after two periods vs. Idaho Falls, but the Outliers went on to win their league-best eighth victory when knotted after two. They are 8-2-0-0 in that situation. 
  • The Outliers scored the first goal against Idaho Falls, and they improved to 22-1-1-1 when scoring first, good for a .920 save percentage (second in the NCDC). 
  • Matteo Mitrovic registered two assists in back-to-back games to stand with the second-most helpers in the league at 28 (tied with South Shore’s Salvatore Cerrato). 
  • Goaltender Philip Rondina has been in net for all three of the Outliers’ recent consecutive wins, putting him at third in the NCDC with 19 wins. He is fifth in the league in goals against average at 2.17.  
  • Garrett Joss has five points over the three-game winning streak, which has propelled him into fourth in the league with 51 points. 


Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights Go 2-1 At Kings Showcase To Stand One Point Back Of Fourth

There’s a really interesting battle for the No. 4 and 5 spots that will probably go right down to the wire. First, throw out games in hand, because no one has any – the WBS Knights, Rockets Hockey Club and Jersey Hitmen are all down to eight games remaining. The Rockets are in fourth with 38 points, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is right behind them at 37 and the Hitmen are sixth at 35. Whoever finishes fourth will host a single play-in game against the No. 5 seed – the winner goes into the best-of-three first round of the Atlantic Division playoffs. Whichever team finishes sixth sees their season end without a postseason. 

The Knights defeated the Islanders Hockey Club, 5-3, they defeated the Twin City Thunder 2-1 in a shootout and the South Shore Kings defeated the Knights, 3-2, in Sunday’s finale.

  • The Knights won the shootout after being tied after the first, second and third periods (scoreless in the first, 1-1 after the second and third). They have a record of 7-2-1-0 when tied after two, giving the Knights the second most victories in the league when tied after 40. 
  • WBS have not been able to win in four overtimes this year, but they are tied for the league lead in most shootout wins with three – tied with the Junior Bruins and Provo Predators. 
  • Andrew Piccirillo leads the NCDC in most shootout goals by a defenseman this year, with three. This also ties him for the league lead with Ogden’s Brody Simko. 


Ogden Mustangs Earn Two More Wins to Maintain Mountain Lead

The Mustangs dispatched the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, 2-1, on Feb. 16 and then defeated the Provo Predators, 4-3, in a shootout on Feb. 22. As aforementioned, this keeps them at 67 points going into Friday’s action, four points ahead of the Utah Outliers. Their victory over Provo was their first shootout win in the NCDC in three attempts. 

  • In the Feb. 22 game, the Mustangs outshot the Predators and earned their league-leading 28th win when outshooting an opponent (28-5-0-0). 
  • The Mustangs are first in both goals for (3.91) and shots on goal (41.93) per game. 
  • Provo and Idaho Falls each went 0-for-4 on the power play against Ogden, keeping the Mustangs at the top of the penalty killing leaderboard with an 86.9 percent success rate. They’ve surrendered just 25 goals on 191 attempts in 43 games. 
  • Ogden scored the first goal in both of their most recent games, giving them a league-leading 28 victories when scoring first. They have scored the first goal in a league-best 32 of 43 games. 
  • Henri Mustonen has been on a tear lately, putting up seven assists in his last four games, and adding a goal one game before that for a five-game scoring streak of eight points. That gives him the majority of his 13 points for this year. A former Minnesota Squatch player, he is a great example of #USPHLAdvancement In Action! While others have four-game assist streaks going on, none have as many helpers as Mustonen does. 
  • Teddie Hember’s power play assist on Feb. 22 was his 17th, good for second in the league amongst defensemen. He is second in power play points with 20, and he is fourth among NCDC defensemen in total points with 35. 
  • The shootout win was Tade Carman’s first W as a Mustang after a roster freeze deadline deal with the WBS Knights. He is tied with Provo’s Michael Polston for most shootout wins at three apiece. 
  • Parker Osborn scored both goals against the Spud Kings, giving him his seventh game-winning goal, second most in the league. He leads the league in goals with 33 and he’s second in scoring with 57 points. 
  • Brody Simko scored his third shootout goal on Feb. 22 to tie him with the WBS Knights’ Andrew Piccirillo.


Islanders Hockey Club’s Four Points Help Them Keep Four-Point New England Lead

The Islanders split their time in the South Shore Kings Presidents Day Showcase, starting out with a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, before defeating the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, 2-1. That gave them a four-point lead over the South Shore Kings. Neither team has any games in hand over the other, both have nine left for this season. 

  • The Islanders are one of four teams with at least seven wins when being tied after two periods. 
  • Defense wins games for the Islanders, as they are second in both goals against (2.23) and shots against (30.33).  
  • They started the scoring against the Twin City Thunder, and they are the only team undefeated in regulation when scoring first at 22-0-2-1. 
  • Braxton Powers’ goal on Feb. 22 broke a 2-2 tie in the third period to give him a league-leading eighth game-winning goal of the season. 


Around The Boards 

The Jersey Hitmen and Utica Jr. Comets both took three points from the Kings Showcase. The Hitmen went 1-1-0-1, and the Jr. Comets went 1-1-1-0. Utica started with a 4-2 win over Connecticut, fell 4-3 to P.A.L. in overtime and fell in regulation to Mercer, 4-3. The Hitmen also won their first game, 5-3, over the South Shore Kings. They fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Junior Bruins and 4-2 to the Thunder. 

  • The Hitmen’s Jack Matsukubo put up a goal and two assists over the three showcase games and now has a six-game scoring streak of 4-2-6, the second longest active scoring streak in the league. 
  • The Jr. Comets were down 2-0 to both the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders after the first, but came out with three points in Foxboro from those games. They have a league-best 10-6-2-0 record when trailing after 20 minutes.
  • Waylon Esche went 1-1 in Foxboro, and he stands second in the league in goaltender minutes played with 1,937. 

The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders split their two games in Foxboro, falling 4-1 against the Northern Cyclones and rebounding to defeat Utica, 4-3, in overtime. 

  • The Jr. Islanders were leading 2-0 in the first period en route to their overtime victory against Utica. They are completely undefeated at 19-0-0-0 when leading after the first period. 
  • P.A.L. is the No. 1 defensive team in the league, giving up just 2.11 per game. They are No. 2 in offense at 3.70 goals per game. 
  • Ty Broad scored the overtime game-winner against Utica, part of a 2-1-3 performance on Feb. 17. He continues to lead the NCDC with 62 points.