By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The top two teams from a week ago are the same top two teams today – and they are the same top two teams that were last seen in 2022-23 playing for the Dineen Cup.
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders sit at the top of the NCDC with 28 points and one point behind them are the South Shore Kings.
The Islanders Hockey Club, who held first for so many days in October upon a 10-game winning streak, stands in third at 25 points.
These three “legacy” teams – all members of the “Original 11” in 2017-18 – are now joined in the top five of the league by two of the newcomers out west – the Ogden Mustangs (22) and the Provo Predators (20).
The first four teams mentioned have been part of that top five nearly from the beginning, but just past the quarter pole of the season, Provo is the new team to join this top bloc, thanks in large part to a five-point run in their first three games to start November. Below, we’ll dig into the first six days of November and specifically the teams that have earned at least as many points as games played in the new month.
Provo Predators Start November With 2-0-0-1 Stand
The Predators were, for quite some time, completely undefeated – they only took their first loss less than a month ago, on Oct. 19, after going 5-0-0-1 to start their NCDC existence. Now, they stand with a 9-2-0-2 record to give them 20 points. The Predators defeated the Pueblo Bulls at home on Nov. 2, 6-4. From there, they went to Idaho Falls on Friday and fell 4-3 in a shootout, before returning home and defeating Rock Springs by a 3-2 overtime score.
- Friday and Saturday were the second time they went back-to-back with games beyond regulation, the first time happening Oct. 13-14, also resulting in three points – a 3-2 defeat of Ogden Mustangs and a 4-3 shootout loss to Utah. They are 2-0 in OT and 1-2 in the shootout.
- They have a tie for the most shootout goals (four) – but they also have given up the most (five).
- Provo stands with the second lowest shots against per game at 29.85 per game.
- For the third time this season, the Predators found themselves tied going into the third period and came out with a win. No other team has as much success in breaking ties after 40 minutes. They also share in the multi-team lead for most overtime wins with two.
- One-hundred percent of defenseman Leo Burns’ goals are game-winners this year, as he scored his second of the season in the 6-4 victory over Pueblo. That puts him into a three-way tie for the lead in GWG’s by a blueliner.
- Provo is one of only two teams to have both their goaltenders in the top 10 for goals against average – Ryan Henry is fifth at 2.11.
- Lucca Ori’s goals always seem to be difference-makers. He has five total and three are first goals, one of which was also a game-winner in a shutout victory, and his most recent goal tied the game to force the eventual victorious Spud Kings to a shootout and salvage at least a point.
- Ben Picard scored the OT goal against the Rock Springs Grizzlies on Saturday. The Preds’ captain is an ‘05 who spent essentially his whole pre-Provo career with the San Jose Jr. Sharks. He is a former second round WHL American Draft major junior selection, as well.
Idaho Falls Spud Kings Defeat Division Leaders In Weekend Sweep
The Spud Kings had not one, but two, statement Mountain Division wins on their first November weekend by beating the first place second place Provo Predators and division-leading Ogden Mustangs on back-to-back days. It was a pair of close games, both one-goal games, but the Spud Kings defeated the Predators 4-3 in the shootout and won 5-4 against Ogden. It was the Spud Kings’ first win against both teams, currently standing at 1-2 against Ogden and 1-1 against Provo.
- The Spud Kings are the first team this season to have won two shootouts. They have the best success rate in scoring three goals on five attempts, and Prestyn Carter is fourth in the league in goaltending percentage by allowing just one goal on six attempts (.167).
- Carter’s fifth and sixth wins this past weekend put him into the top five for victories by an NCDC goaltender.
- D.J. MacLeish’s second shootout goal of the season was the game-winner against Provo. He is in a three-way tie for overall shootout goals (Provo’s Jonatan Raatakainen is also in that group), and he is one of four defensemen league-wide with a shootout game-winner this year. MacLeish was recently named a Mountain Division Defenseman Of The Month.
- Matvei Naumov’s hat trick goal ended up also being the GWG for the Spud Kings in their 5-4 win over the Mustangs.
- Idaho Falls is tied for third in penalty killing success, with a rating of 85.2 percent via giving up just eight goals on 54 opposition opportunities.
- Matteo Mitrovic’s second power play goal scored to open the scoring against Provo was his second, good for a five-way tie for PPG’s by a defenseman.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Take Fourth Straight Weekend Sweep To Remain In First
The Jr. Islanders swept the Mercer Chiefs, 5-2 and 4-0, this past weekend to give them what is currently an eight-game winning streak. They have won all four of their most recent home-and-home weekend series. They haven’t taken a loss of any kind since an Oct. 7 loss to the South Shore Kings in their final Hitmen Classic game.
- The Jr. Islanders’ eight-game winning streak matches their season best of 2022-23, when they won all eight between Nov. 16 and Dec. 17, as well as their best 2021-22 streak, a run of eight W’s between Oct. 16 and Nov. 3. If they win their next game, they’ll officially have their team record winning streak.
- This is the first season in which they’ve won four straight weekend series against a common opponent for each weekend.
- The Jr. Islanders put 60 shots on the Jersey Hitmen on Nov. 4, the second time they did so this season, having also put 60 on Oct. 14 against the Jr. Rangers, the second of their eight straight wins. The 60 shots is the third-most for any team in a game this season.
- The Jr. Islanders beat the Hitmen in consecutive games for the first time in their history, and they won back to back games against the Hitmen for only the second time in their seven-season history together, after winning three straight against Jersey in 2022-23.
- Heikki Virtanen has goals in each of the last three games, giving him a tie for the second longest active goal-scoring streak. His Nov. 3 goal against the Hitmen that started the scoring in a 4-0 shutout win was his first game-winner of the season and fourth in his career. Virtanen is third in goals league-wide with 11.
- The Jr. Islanders like a good cushion for victories, seeing as how their three-goal win (5-2) on Nov. 4 was their league-leading fifth victory in a three-goal margin game (a situation in which their record is 5-1-0-0). A day earlier, the Jr. Islanders won their first four-goal margin game of the year.
- P.A.L. also remains first in the league when leading after one period (10-0) and when leading after two periods (13-0). They are, not surprisingly, first in wins (12) and points (25) when scoring the first goal in a game, which they’ve done in 14 of their 16 games.
- The Jr. Islanders lead in shots on goal per game at 43.5, and they are third in goals for (3.88) and tied for first in team defense (2.00 goals against per game).
- Coleson Hanrahan, recently named an Atlantic Division Defenseman Of The Month, is third in league defenseman scoring with 16 points, and second in assists with 13.
- Atlantic Division Goaltender of the Month Nicholas Bevilacqua’s shutout on Nov. 3 was his league-leading second of the season. He’s also second in save percentage (.951) and GAA (1.90) and leads the league in minutes (852) and saves (520).
- Ty Broad’s goal and three assists over the weekend gives him 76 career points with the Jr. Islanders, good for a tie for fourth all-time. His 77 career points are good for third among active NCDC players. The league’s leader in points with 28 and assists with 21, was an obvious Atlantic Division Forward Of The Month selection.
- Broad’s 28th P.A.L. career goal brought him into a tie for eighth all-time with teammate Carter Hanrahan, who also posted a 1-3-4 line on the weekend, all in the Nov. 3 4-0 win. Virtanen is seventh at 29 goals, making him the active leader in career goals.
- With three assists on the weekend, Broad passed former Jr. Islander Adam Bricker into sixth all-time in P.A.L. assists with 48. Ten of these are power play assists just this year, which leads the league.
South Shore Kings Earn Sweep To Pull Within One Point Of First Place
The Kings won their 12th and 13th games of the season against the Boston Junior Bruins, tying the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders with 13 wins to lead the league and they are just one point behind the Jr. Isles, whom they fell to in the three-game Dineen Cup Final series last spring. The Jr. Islanders have 28 points and the South Shore Kings have 27 after they defeated the Boston Junior Bruins, 3-1 and 4-1 in a home-and-home series.
- The Kings have given up just one goal or less (a 4-0 shutout of the Islanders Hockey Club on Oct. 26) in four straight games, exactly matching a defensive streak they last put up between Oct. 15-28, 2021, a string of giving up only one goal in three straight games after a shutout win. Their four wins is the second longest active winning streak behind P.A.L.’s eight.
- With that recent string, the Kings are tied with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in having the best team defense, giving up just 2.00 goals against per game. Their success this year also has a lot to do with having the best offense, at 4.19 goals per game. So, officially going forward, we’ll hereby decree that the best defense is a good defense, and the best offense is a good offense. Period.
- The Kings also have the best defenseman group, giving up just 28.06 shots per game, and they also have one of the best offenses in terms of shots going the other way, posting 42.75, just a fraction behind P.A.L.’s 43.5. South Shore is the only team that has not yet been outshot in 2023-24.
- More bests – the Kings have the No. 1 power play with 24 power play goals on 66 chances for a 36.4 percent success rate. Best penalty kill? Yup, the Kings again – only six power play goals against on 48 opponent chances for an 87.5 percentage there.
- South Shore scored three unanswered goals in the second period of their Nov. 4 3-1 victory against the Junior Bruins after being down 1-0 following the first 20 minutes. South Shore is the only team completely undefeated when trailing after one period, winning both games in that situation (adding in that Ogden is the only team in the NCDC that has never trailed after one period).
- The Kings have started the scoring in their games eight times, and are the only team completely undefeated when scoring first at 8-0-0-0.
- Sal Cerrato, a New England Defenseman Of The Month selection, is tied for first in league defenseman scoring with 17 points, and leads in assists with 15, adding his 15th this past weekend. Cerrato is also second in league assists. He is the Kings’ all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 32 points in 56 games, earlier this season passing Moritz Matzka. Matzka is currently in his sixth pro season in his native Austria.
- Ryan Keyes, the league’s only completely undefeated goaltender at 11-0-0-0, is tied for the lead in wins with P.A.L.’s Nicholas Bevilacqua. Keyes also leads in GAA (1.72).
- South Shore is the only team with two of the top five scorers in Culin Wilson (23 points) and Nathan Stachowiak (22 points), good for second and third behind only Ty Broad. Wilson and Cerrato are tied for second in assists league-wide with 15 apiece.
- Rookie Xavier Vaillancourt is first in power play goals league-wide with seven, and fellow first-year Tier II player Jake Kavanagh is first in game-winning goals with four.
Twin City Thunder Show #LAStrong Pride In Fundraiser And Gain Weekend Sweep
The Twin City Thunder put forth their #LAStrong (Lewiston-Auburn Strong) pride on Thursday night in a fundraiser game to help the families of the horrific Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston that took the lives of 18 people and injured 13 others. The visiting Northern Cyclones and Thunder formed a ring of remembrance at the center ice circle and the Thunder leadership corps held up a Number 18 jersey in honor of those who perished. All proceeds from the Nov. 2 home game in terms of ticket sales as well as additional fundraising initiatives such as a silent auction went to benefit the families of those who died and also to the injured.
Less importantly, hockey was played and the Thunder were able to win both of their games Thursday and Saturday against the Northern Cyclones, by scores of 5-4 in a shootout in the home game and 6-3 in Hudson, N.H.
- With the sweep, the Thunder pulled to within one point of the Cyclones in their all-time series which is now at 19 games. THe Cyclones are 10-8-0-1 for 21 points, and the Thunder are 9-8-1-1 for 20 points going back to the Thunder’s entry into the NCDC in 2019.
- With the 6-3 win, the Thunder got their largest margin of victory for the young 2023-24 season. Four of their five victories are by one goal. Their 6-3 victory also marked the first time this season the Thunder won a game in which they led after the first (1-0-1-0).
- Roman Wainwright faced the Cyclones’ Logan Abric on a penalty shot on Nov. 4, but no goal was scored. He was just the second Thunder to ever have a penalty shot – former Thunder Trace Norwell scored on his Nov. 16, 2022, opportunity against Ryan Keyes, then with Mercer. Only one goal has been scored on six penalty shots this season, that being from the Jr. Comets’ Louie Kamienski on Oct. 15.
- On Oct. 2, Stefan Carney stopped the WBS Knights’ Sacha Trudel in a penalty shot, making Twin City, the Jersey Hitmen and the WBS Knights the only teams to be involved either as the shooting team or goaltending team in two penalty shots so far this year.
- The same day as Wainwright’s penalty shot, Mercer’s Dylan Young was unsuccessful against the WBS Knights’ Iannico Ammaranto, marking the first time since Sept. 23, 2022, that there have been two penalty shots on the same day in the NCDC.
- Jeffrey Kreidler, who came over to the Thunder in a Halloween Day trade with Mercer, won his first start for Twin City by stopping 46 of the 49 shots he faced against the Cyclones on Nov. 4. With that win, he improved to 3-3-0-0 on the season.
- Carney stopped all three Cyclones opportunities in the shootout to make Twin City only the second team – along with the Junior Bruins – to not surrender a shootout goal this year, not counting the four teams that haven’t been to the shootout. Carney and Garrett Simpson of the Junior Bruins are thus the only goalies with a 1.000 save percentage in the 1v1 showdowns.
Islanders Hockey Club Takes Win, Overtime Loss And Remains At Third Place
The Islanders got back to winning ways after a prior tough weekend against the South Shore Kings by coming away from a Sunday-Monday trip to Utica with three out of a possible four points. The Islanders traded 4-3 games with the Jr. Comets, falling 4-3 in OT on Sunday before winning by the same score in regulation on Monday.
The Islanders, whose 10-game winning streak from Sept. 29 to Oct. 20 is this season’s longest so far, improved to 11-2-3-0 on the season, good for 25 points and sole possession of third place in the league currently.
- The last time the Islanders saw a win and a loss by the same score against the same opponent in back-to-back games was Feb. 27, 2019, and March 2, 2019, when they fell 5-4 to the Northern Cyclones in OT in the first game and won 5-4 in regulation in the next. Over the years, back-to-back games against the same opponent have been rare for the Islanders in a New England Division where travel has been historically light – teams in that division have historically played a lot of one-off games against each other.
- When the Islanders went to OT against Utica, it was their league-leading sixth time beyond regulation, and they also have the most points beyond 60 minutes, with nine, after going 2-3 in OT and 1-0 in the shootout.
- The Islanders have the most points in one-goal games, with 13, after going 5-0-3-0 so far. They are one of three teams in the league who are unbeaten in regulation in one-goal games.
- Samuel Larsson’s power play assist on Tikhon Ashikhmin’s power play goal in the Nov. 6 was his eighth power play point, tops among all NCDC defensemen. He is in a three-way tie for the lead in power play assists by defensemen. Larsson joined Ashikhmin and forward Max Lundgren as members of the NCDC New England Division October Players Of The Month.
- Goaltender Frank Murphy, who claimed his eighth win of the season, sits in third for wins by a goaltender this season. He’s fourth in minutes (657) and tied for second in saves (358).
Rockets Hockey Club Take Win, Overtime Loss To Hold Onto Third In Atlantic
The Rockets rebounded from a 4-3 overtime loss to the Connecticut Jr. Rangers on their home ice on Friday to win 4-1 at Connecticut on Saturday. With a 7-8-1-1 record, the Rockets moved to 16 points on the season and sit just one point behind second place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
- The win and OT loss to Connecticut helped the Rockets even up their all-time series with Connecticut after 35 meetings at 14-14-5-2.
- The Rockets are third in penalty killing, killing off all but 12 of of their 81 opposition power plays.
- Returning blueliner Jonah Copre has posted three straight games with two assists in each, which has helped put him into a tie for third in assists by defensemen with 12, half of which have obviously come from the last three contests.
- Cam Bergeman, recently named an Atlantic Division Forward Of The Month, continues to lead the NCDC in goals with 13. He is tied for fourth in points with 21. Bergeman is also the active leader among all current NCDC players in points with 105 points in 106 games. He crossed the 100-point mark on Oct. 20 with a 1-3-4 line against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He is 17th all-time in NCDC scoring and eighth in Rockets all-time scoring with 105 points in 106 games.
- Bergeman has two of the Rockets’ five shorthanded goals, and league leader Jonas Dobnig has scored the other three.
Pueblo Bulls Earn Win, Regulation Loss and OT Loss In Head-Spinning Weekend
The Bulls came out of their three-game weekend with three points, starting with a 6-4 loss to the Provo Predators. The Bulls turned it right around the next day and beat the Utah Outliers by a 7-2 score on Nov. 3. And on Saturday, they wrapped it up with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Utah Outliers. Pueblo sits with 17 points and third in the Mountain Division, three points out of second and five out of first.
- The Bulls equaled the Mountain Division high of seven goals on Nov. 3, matching their season high from Sept. 23 in a 7-3 win also over Utah. All Mountain Division teams except for Rock Springs and Provo have scored seven goals at least once this season.
- Thomas Soucy’s five points scored in the Nov. 3 win over Utah matched P.A.L. forward Carter Hanrahan’s five points scored in their opener on Sept. 22 as the most scored by a single player in one game this season. That has helped Pueblo jump to the second best offense in the NCDC at 4.07 per game. Only they and the South Shore Kings (4.19) are averaging better than four goals per game.
- William Johnson’s second goal of the game on Nov. 4 in the OT loss was the Bulls’ 18th in 69 attempts, putting them at third in the league at 26.1 percent.
- Jack Hanson’s assist on that Johnson PP goal put Hanson into a tie at No. 1 for power play points in the league with 10. He is second in power play assists with nine.
- Nate Farrell scored the GWG on Nov. 3 and added an assist, giving him 17 points, making him the No. 1 scorer among NCDC defenseman. With eight goals, he’s No. 1 in that category as well and fellow blueliner Will Sinclair is No. 2 with five goals. Farrell also became one of just three defensemen with two game-winning goals. He was named a Mountain Division Defenseman Of The Month for October.
Around the Boards
Six different teams finished 1-1 on their most recent weekend, setting a total of 12 out of 16 teams winning at least one game over the course of the week.
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers won 4-3 over the Rockets on Nov. 3 and then lost 4-1 the next day. The Rangers hit overtime in three out of their four games between Oct. 22 and Nov. 3, winning two and losing one.
- The Jr. Rangers won a league-high third game after being down in both the first period and the second period, when they came back from a 2-1 deficit after 20 minutes and down 3-1 after 40 to defeat the Rockets in OT. They are 3-6 when trailing after the first and have the same record when trailing after two periods.
- Max Jaldung had his first multi-goal game of the season and third of his NCDC career when his second goal was the OT game-winner against the Rockets.
The Mercer Chiefs won their third straight game when they beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, 3-2, on Nov. 4, before falling 5-4 on Sunday.
- Ethan Byrne had assists in both games against the Knights and now has a four-game assist streak totaling eight helpers going back to Oct. 28, second longest assist streak to the South Shore Kings’ Culin Wilson (nine assists in six games).
- Dylan Young took Mercer’s first-ever penalty shot in this, the Chiefs’ second NCDC season. He did not score against the Knights’ Iannico Amaranto.
The Ogden Mustangs took a 4-3 win over the Rock Springs Grizzlies on Nov. 3, but fell the next night to the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, 5-4, marking their first loss to Idaho Falls in their three meetings so far. The Mustangs remain 2-0 against Rock Springs.
- Two Mustangs continue their hot streaks, as Dimitri Voyatzis (a Mountain Players Of the Month selection) has registered 19 off a 5-14-19 line in a league-leading 13 games. He’s only missed the scoresheet once, in the Sept. 22 season opener. Parker Osborn had four goals in his last three games to rank among current goal streak leaders.
The Utah Outliers also drew a 1-1 mark on the week, falling 7-3 to Pueblo the first night of their two-game series before turning it around with a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 4. The overtime win was the Outliers’ first in their four meetings against Pueblo this year.
- That victory was the Outliers’ league-leading fifth one-goal victory, giving them a 5-1-0-1 record in one-goal games, tying the Islanders Hockey Club (5-0-3-0) in that respect.
- Daniil Chuparnov’s second of the game and eighth of the season was the overtime winner against Pueblo on Saturday, marking both his second two-goal game this year and second game-winner of the year.
The Utica Jr. Comets split with the Islanders Hockey Club in Utica, winning 4-3 in overtime on Sunday and falling 4-3 in regulation on Monday.
- The overtime win, with the GWG scored by Fuji Suzuki with eight seconds remaining, was the Jr. Comets’ first in three OT games. They also have one shootout loss for a total of four games going beyond regulation.
- Suzuki’s second GWG was part of a three-point performance that came just after a four-point outing on Oct. 29 for a total of seven points in two straight games. Suzuki, a past member of the Japanese National Junior Teams, now leads Utica with 20 points in 16 games.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights fell 3-2 to Mercer and then 5-4 in their second game. The two points helped the Knights barely cling on to second place in the Atlantic at 8-6-1-0 for 17 points, one ahead of the Rockets Hockey Club.
- Shawn Swavely’s second goal of the year broke a 4-4 tie after 40 minutes, and the Knights and Mercer were also tied 2-2 after the first period. The Knights now have a league-leading five wins when tied after the first period. They also were outshot 54-50 and are 4-3-0-0 when being outshot, one of just five teams with a better than .500 record in that situation.