By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The Islanders Hockey Club continue to tear through their 2023-24 schedule, winning 10 straight (including two recently against their local rivals the Northern Cyclones). They sit atop the overall standings with 22 points, just ahead of the defending Dineen Cup Champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders at 20 points and on a four-game winning streak of their own. A close race continues to develop in the first-year Mountain Division, where the Ogden Mustangs are in first with 16 points and on a four-game point streak (4-0-0-1) and three points ahead of the Utah Outliers, on a four-game point streak (3-0-0-1).
The week of Oct. 17-23 was one of the most productive weeks yet this season with 13 of the 18 teams picking up at least one victory, including – for the first time in franchise and league history – the Rock Springs Grizzlies.
We’ll break down all the teams that finished with at least as many points as games played over the last week.
Islanders Hockey Club Down Add Two More W’s To Remain Unbeaten In Regulation
The Islanders, now with 10 wins in a row since falling in overtime twice to start the season, continue to blow minds as we already approach the first quarter mark of the season, which for the IHC would be their next/13th game in their 52-game season. On Thursday, the Islanders defeated the Northern Cyclones, 4-1, and then 3-2 in overtime the next day.
- The Cyclones and Islanders entered their first 2023-24 series with matching 14-11-1-2 records against each other, but the Islanders pulled ahead in this great rivalry by a current 16-11-1-2 record vs. the Cyclones’ 14-12-2-2 mark.
- The Islanders have a chance, if they win their next game (Thursday vs. the South Shore Kings), to match their most recent best winning streak of 11 games in 2019-20, from Jan. 3-Feb. 2, 2020.
- Out of the teams that have been out-shot in a game this year (all but the South Shore Kings), the Islanders have the best record in that situation with a 3-0-1-0 mark. The Cyclones outshot them 27-23 in the 4-1 Islanders victory on Oct. 19.
- The Islanders now have the best defense, giving up just 2.00 goals against per game. They also have the second best offense at 4.00 goals per game.
- Penalty killing remains a strong point. The IHC has given up just six goals out of 50 times shorthanded for a league-best 88 percent.
- IHC was already leading the league in games going beyond 60 minutes before last Friday’s OT game against the Cyclones. They currently lead with five, with an OT record of 2-2 and a shootout record of 1-0 for a league-best eight points earned beyond regulation.
- Samuel Larsson, ranking third in defenseman scoring with 12 points, is tied for the lead in power play points by a defenseman with seven.
- Goaltender Frank Murphy’s 32-save performance against the Cyclones on Friday was his league-leading seventh straight victory, tied with P.A.L.’s Nicholas Bevilacqua and South Shore’s Ryan Keyes. He is also top five in goals against average (1.84, second), minutes (489, second) and save percentage (.944).
- Murphy’s seven-game winning streak is the longest in more than five years, beating two six-game winning streaks by 2019-20 goalies Jacob Zacharewicz and Kalle Andersson. The record is Louis-Felix St-Jean’s 22-game winning streak to see him go 22-0 on the 2017-18 season. Justin Ferguson won 18 games as well that inaugural NCDC season.
Ogden Mustangs Win Pair To Hold Onto Mountain Division Lead
The Mustangs, with a division-leading 16 points off a 7-1-1-1 record, are enjoying their first hot streak of their NCDC existence with a run of 4-0-0-1 since Oct. 7. The Mustangs defeated the Provo Predators, 6-3, on Oct. 20 and then defeated the Rock Springs Grizzlies, 7-1, one night later.
- The Mustangs became the fourth Mountain Division team to attain the current high for goals by a single team in a game, which is seven, and matched by the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, Utah Grizzlies and Pueblo Bulls so far.
- The Spud Kings and Mustangs both hold the divisional high point for most goals on consecutive days with 13 – the Spud Kings did it Oct. 6-7 against the Rock Springs Grizzlies.
- Payton Struck’s four-game, five-assist streak is tied for No. 1 in that category, and he and teammate Dimitri Voyatzis are 1-2 in points streaks. Struck has 15 points through all 10 so far, and Voyatzis has 14 points in his last nine.
- Struck’s eighth goal on Saturday was his third game-winning goal, tying him with four others for the league lead.
- Vladislav Bryzgalov, Ogden’s goaltender and son of former NHL goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, is third in both save percentage (.945) and goals against average (1.97).
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders’ Four-Game Winning Streak Keeps Them Above Atlantic Fray
The Jr. Islanders are able to enjoy an eight-point lead on their nearest competition, where they see the Rockets Hockey Club and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights tied for second at 12 points and the Jersey Hitmen a rising force with 10 points. The Jr. Islanders did so by defeating the Mercer Chiefs by consecutive 4-1 scores in a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday.
- The last time P.A.L. defeated the same opponent by the same score in back-to-back games was a pair of 2-0 victories against the Twin City Thunder during Hub City Tampa, Jan. 8 and 10, 2021.
- The Jr. Islanders with a lead remains a dangerous situation. They are 8-0 when leading after one period and 9-0 when leading after two. Not surprisingly, they have the most first goals of games (11) and the best record when scoring first, at 9-1-1-0 for a league-leading 19 points.
- P.A.L. also has the league’s second best team defense, surrendering just 2.08 goals per game.
- P.A.L.’s Ryan Kearney has the league’s fifth-longest current scoring streak with 10 points in his last six games going back to Oct. 7.
- The Jr. Islanders’ Nick Bevilacqua is among the top five in several goaltending categories. He leads in saves (366) and minutes (607), and he is second in save percentage (.948) and fourth in GAA (1.98).
- Ty Broad continues to be No. 1 in league scoring with 23 points overall and 17 assists, also tops across the NCDC. Milestone-wise, he scored two goals and his 27 career goals is now tied for seventh all-time for P.A.L. He also passed Tyler Crist (2020-22) to move into sixth in all-time team scoring with 71 points.
Utica Jr. Comets Take Weekend Sweep, Climb To Within One Point Of Third
The Jr. Comets defeated the Junior Bruins in two straight one-goal games, 5-4 on Oct. 20 and 4-3 on Oct. 21. With those four points, they pulled to within one point of the same Junior Bruins, who currently occupy third place.
- This was Utica’s first two-game sweep against a common opponent since Jan. 13-14, 2023, against Mercer (a pair of 4-2 victories).
- The last time the Jr. Comets won two straight games by one goal was a pair of 3-2 wins that were part of a three-game weekend against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, the wins coming Oct. 15-16, 2022.
- After going 1/2 on Friday in power plays and 1/4 on Saturday, the Jr. Comets moved to second in the league in power play percentage with a 35.6 success rate (16-for-45).
- The Jr. Comets’ defensive corps has been strong this year, giving up 32.09 shots against per game, which is second best in the league, averaging just over 10 shots against per period.
- Fuji Suzuki is leading the Jr. Comets in scoring with 13 points through 11 games. A veteran of the Japanese National Junior Team program, he also has 11 points in 15 career IIHF games.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Take Two In A Row, Tie For Second In Atlantic
The Knights posted a pair of big wins at Bridgewater, N.J., 8-5 and 4-1, and with these four points, you saw the Knights pull into a second place tie in the Atlantic with the Rockets Hockey Club, hosts of the weekend series. The Rockets had come into this season with a 5-1-0-0 series lead on the Knights, who now pulled much closer in the history.
- The eight goals scored on Friday, Oct. 20, equaled a single game high for the second-year Knights, who last hit the mark on Feb. 25, 2023, in an 8-2 win over Mercer.
- Those eight goals were also the second most goals by a single team so far this year, with P.A.L. hitting nine on Sept. 22 and South Shore scoring nine on Oct. 15, an all-time single game high for the Kings.
- The two-game sweep against a common opponent was the first since Oct. 2-3, 2022, when the Knights defeated the visiting Islanders Hockey Club in consecutive games. Big asterisk on that, though, as the vast majority of common opponent weekends for WBS are typically three-game sets, whether on the road or at home. For instance, they last won two in a row against the same opponent on back-to-back days over Feb. 24-25 against Mercer, before Mercer won Game 3 of the weekend series on Feb. 26.
- With a 3-0 record when tied after two periods, WBS is tied for best record in that situation with Utah.
- William Jasmin scored his second shorthanded goal of the season to bring WBS to four on the season, second in the NCDC. Jasmin is also tied for second in SHG’s. With two goals this past weekend, Jasmin became the third player this season to break 10 and ranks third in the league with 10.
- Chance Uzzell registered his seventh power play assist on a Friday PPG to tie for the league lead with Ty Broad.
Jr. Rangers Register Win, Shootout Loss For Three Points Versus Hitmen
Connecticut earned points in two straight games for the first time since starting 3-0 on the season in September, as the Jr. Rangers put up a 2-1 win over the Jersey Hitmen, before a 3-2 overtime loss to the same Hitmen the next day. The win was the Rangers’ seventh in their seven-year NCDC history against the five-year Founders Cup (regular season) champion Hitmen, so it was a huge moment in the divisional rivalry series for the Jr. Rangers.
- The last time the Jr. Rangers took three points in two straight games against the Hitmen was Sept. 28-29, 2018, when the Jr. Rangers won the first game, 2-1, and then they fell 4-3 in a shootout in the second game.
- Jextinian Sheffield, Carl Johan Salle and Damon Myers all registered two points apiece to lead the team against the Hitmen, and nine total players registered points.
Outliers Win First Game, Fall In Shootout In Second Game Of Three-Point Weekend
The Utah Outliers came away with a three-point total from a pair of games on Oct. 20 and 21. They started with a 7-1 win against the Idaho Falls Spud Kings and then the next night, the Spud Kings came back from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-4 in a shootout. With those three points, the Outliers moved past the Provo Predators and into second place in the Mountain Division. The Outliers are on a 3-0-0-1 points streak going into this weekend’s action.
- Like the Mustangs did this past weekend, the Outliers scored their season high, that being seven goals. The six-goal margin in the 7-1 win was tied (with the Mustangs, from their own 7-1 win) for second highest in the NCDC this season.
- With a 4-0-0-1 record in one-goal games, the Outliers’ nine points are second to the first-place IHC’s 10 (4-0-2-0). They are two of the four teams in the NCDC to have not lost a one-goal game in regulation.
- David Utkin, the league’s leading goal-scorer with 12 so far (and tied for the lead in game-winning goals with three), continues his red-hot goal streak. His six goals in his last four games is the longest current streak and tied for second overall.
Around The Boards
There were six teams in the NCDC that closed out last weekend with 1-1 records.
- The Idaho Falls Spud Kings celebrated their historic first-ever NCDC shootout victory after coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Utah by a 5-4 score, following a 7-1 defeat one day prior. D.J. MacLeish and Ryan Johnson scored to give the Spud Kings a 2-1 edge on Utah and the W. That was also their first win against the Outliers, against whom they are 1-1-1 so far here in 2023-24.
- The Jersey Hitmen countered their 2-1 loss to the host Connecticut Jr. Rangers with a 3-2 overtime win on home ice in Wayne, N.J. It was the Hitmen’s first overtime victory since defeating the Rockets Hockey Club 4-3 in OT on Jan. 14, which was also their last time seeing a game decided in OT. They were 4-1 in OT’s last year, not counting the one game that went to a shootout (a 2-1 loss to Mercer on Feb. 3).
- Daniel Moor became the first goaltender this season to face two penalty shots – and he stopped them both. First it was Cam Bergeman in the Sept. 22 season-opener, and then this weekend, he stymied Connecticut’s Damon Myers.
- Pueblo defeated the Provo Predators, 6-3, on Oct. 19, before falling the next day to Rock Springs, 3-0. Nate Farrell didn’t score this weekend, but still maintains a three-goal lead for the league lead in goals by a defenseman with seven.
- Rock Springs celebrated Friday by earning their first NCDC win, 3-0 against the visiting Pueblo Bulls, before falling 7-1 to the Ogden Mustangs. Owen Meyer scored the first GWG in Grizzlies history at 7:02 of the second, and Tucker Inabinet secured the first goaltender win and first shutout (32 saves) for the Rock Springs books.
- The South Shore Kings and Twin City Thunder split their weekend series, with the Kings winning the first at home, 3-2, and then Twin City winning 3-2 at home.
- That was the second time this season the Kings saw the same score in consecutive games against the same opponent, but they won the first time with 5-1 scores against the Northern Cyclones on Sept. 22-23. Twin City also saw back-to-back matching scores, though five days apart, winning 4-3 over Utica on Oct. 6 at the Hitmen Classic then falling 4-3 to the Islanders Hockey Club on Oct. 12 in overtime.