By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
There was no change in the top five from last week, but the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders keep increasing their lead, as they won another two games to extend their team record winning streak to 12 in a row. P.A.L. was one of five teams to earn weekend sweeps in the last pre-Thanksgiving weekend, as they were joined by the Islanders Hockey Club, the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, the Northern Cyclones and the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. With the Islanders Hockey Club’s sweep and a three-point weekend from the South Shore Kings, the IHC was able to tie for the New England Division lead, also good for a tie for second place overall league-wide. As is the case every Tuesday, we’ll dive into the last week or so, specifically looking at the teams that earned at least as many points as games played.
Statistics are from games of Nov. 14-20 (except for Hitmen-Rockets game of Nov. 21)
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Extend Club Record Winning Streak To 12 Games
The defending Dineen Cup Champions continue to fly high, remaining at the top of both the Atlantic Division and NCDC overall with a record of 17-1-1-1 for 36 points, thanks in huge part to a 12-game winning streak. The winning streak is the longest in the league since the Jersey Hitmen won 13 in a row in 2019-20, a year after the Hitmen set the league record at a 19-0 run. That 19-0 mark had itself beaten two 16-game winning streaks from the prior season from the first Dineen Cup Champions, the Islanders Hockey Club. The team’s most recent wins came against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in a 3-0 victory and a 5-1 mark as well.
Speaking of the Islanders Hockey Club, while the Jr. Islanders have the most points in 12 straight games this year, the IHC also registered points in 12 straight from Game 1 of the season on Sept. 22 through the end of their 10-game winning streak on Oct. 20.
- At the 20-game mark, no P.A.L. Jr. Islanders team has ever been better, the closest being the 2019-20 squad that was 11-5-3-1 for 26 points, still 10 points behind this year’s monster squad.
- In the second period of their 5-1 win against the Knights, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders racked up a season-high 25 shots, tied for third most in the middle stanza this year.
- Rookie Devin Niles scored in his fourth and fifth straight games, giving him the second-longest active points streak in the league. He has 1-5-6 in that stretch.
- P.A.L. continues to be impossible to beat when leading after either one period (11-0) or two periods (17-0).
- The Jr. Islanders fire the most shots on goal per game (44.40) and they also have the No. 1 team defense in the NCDC at 1.80 goals against per game – remaining the only team under 2.00.
- They have scored the first goal in 16 of their 20 games, and they have a league-leading 14-1-1-0 record and 25 points in that situation. Ryan Kearney is tied with Provo’s Lucca Ori with four first goals.
- Veteran NCDC goaltender Nicholas Bevilacqua is running the table on the goaltending stats – he earned his league high third shutout with the 3-0 win on Friday, and then also he is No. 1 in goals against average (1.69), winning percentage (.956), wins (14), minutes (1032) and saves (636). The shutout was his fourth in his career and put him into the top 10 all time in that category. He is now tied for second all time in games played at 71 with former IHC goaltender Kalle Andersson. He also passed Andersson with his 36th win to move into fourth place all-time in the NCDC. His 2,260 saves are second all-time in league history as well.
- Ty Broad is making his mark in P.A.L. team history, as he scored three more goals to move from ninth to sixth all-time in goals scored for P.A.L. with 31. He remains fourth all-time in Jr. Islanders scoring, with 81 points. His 0.94 points per game average is fourth all-time for Islanders with multiple seasons played.
- With two assists on Nov. 17, Coleson Hanrahan became the league’s top-scoring defenseman with 21 points in 20 games. He is tied for the league lead in power play goals, and he is second in assists (17) and in power play points (nine).
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Earn Weekend Sweep Ahead Of Holiday Weekend Showdown With P.A.L.
The Jr. Rangers, who earned three points in a split weekend with the Rockets Hockey Club on Nov. 3-4, were able to get a weekend sweep of two wins two weeks later. They won both their games 5-4 and they leap-frogged the same Rockets from fourth into third place with their newest four points. Connecticut is 9-9-1-0 with 19 points in 19 games on the season.
Connecticut will move on to a Friday and Sunday home-and-home Thanksgiving weekend series against the league-leading P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, in hopes of bursting the 12-game bubble that team has built. Connecticut is only two points out of second place, currently occupied by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights who are coming off two losses to the Jr. Islanders. The Jr. Islanders hold a 21-12-1-0 record against the Jr. Rangers in their seven-season history.
- The Rangers were outshot by the Rockets in both games, but managed to win both, giving them a better than .500 record when being outshot at 7-6-1-0. Their seven wins when being outshot lead the league.
- Connecticut, which has never been past overtime, stands as one of just three teams in the NCDC to have at least three overtime victories this year. They are 3-1 in the extra session.
- Goaltender Mason Joseph stands tied for second in winning percentage with a .942 save percentage.
- With the overtime game-winner and two assists on Saturday, and a goal on Friday, veteran Jack Houser officially improved upon his 2022-23 season totals, when he had 17 points in 42 games. He currently has 21 points in 19 games. He has four GWG’s for his career.
Idaho Fall Spud Kings Earn Third Weekend Sweep Of Season
The Spud Kings won a 3-1 match on Friday against the Utah Outliers, and then they put up the 5-4 victory against Rock Springs. They’ve gone 2-1 against the Grizzlies the last two weeks. It was the third time through not quite two full months of play that the Spud Kings were able to sweep opponents on back-to-back weekend days. They had previously swept Ogden and Provo Nov. 3-4, and also swept Rock Springs Oct. 6-7. After winning a season-best three in a row, the Spud Kings are over .500 at 9-7-1-0.
- The Spud Kings improved to 5-1-0-0 against Rock Springs this year, and they are 2-1-1-0 against Utah.
- Idaho Falls is behind only the league-leading P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in shots on goal per game, as they have fired an average of 42.47 per game.
- The Spud Kings and the Boston Junior Bruins are the only two teams to have not given up a shorthanded goal this year. They have also only given up nine goals in 62 shorthanded situations, for an 85.5 percent success rate, good for third in the league.
- Defenseman D.J. MacLeish, who had game-winning goals in both games this past weekend, is on a three-game scoring streak with a 4-3-7 line. His three GWG’s are No. 1 among all NCDC defensemen. He is fourth in defenseman scoring overall with 18 points in 16 games, and his seven goals were also tied for second among blueliners in that category.
- Matteo Mitrovic’s three power play goals are in a five-way tie for first in the league among defensemen.
- The Goodwin brothers – Xavier (‘05) and George (‘03) – combined for four of the Spud Kings’ eight goals this season, including Xavier’s first three of the season.
Islanders Hockey Club Sweeps Twin City With Back-To-Back Shutouts
The Islanders jumped back into a share of first place in the New England Division, which also currently comprises a tie for second in the NCDC overall. It helps a lot that they were not defeated in regulation in November, going 4-0-1-1. Two of those were the 3-0 and 5-0 victories in their most recent home-and-home series against the Twin City Thunder on Nov. 16 and Nov. 18.
- This was the first time that the Islanders have ever won two shutouts in a row in back-to-back games against the same opponent. Twice before they had shutouts in two of three games, with one non-shutout in between. They have two 5-0 shutouts this season against Twin City, having previously won on Oct. 15.
- Frank Murphy has two of the three shutouts for the Islanders this year, with 42 saves on Oct. 14 and 34 on Nov. 18.
- Mike Salvatore, another first-year NCDC player, made 21 saves on Nov. 16. Salvatore is a former USPHL 16U All-Star with the Junior Bruins, and was more recently the Captain of the Phillips Exeter squad.
- The two goalies improved to fourth and fifth in goals against average, with Salvatore holding a 2.09 mark and Murphy is at 2.12.
- Murphy is tied for third in wins at nine, while he is fourth in save percentage at .938. He’s also tied for second in shutouts with two.
- It also helps that the whole team is on board with the defense – the IHC is third in goals against per game at 2.25.
- Defenseman Samuel Larsson added two more power play assists to continue to lead the league among defensemen in that category with nine (tied with WBS’ Chance Uzzell). He’s first on his own in power play points by a defenseman with 11, and he’s sixth overall in NCDC defenseman points with 16. His 11 power play points are also tied for second in the league overall.
- Max Lundgren and Braxton Powers are tied for second in GWG’s. Max Lundgren had the first goal and game-winner against Twin City on Nov. 16, one of two goals in that game. Powers had the first goal and GWG on Nov. 18.
- Michael Lynch, a recent acquisition for the Islanders, scored his first three NCDC goals as a hat trick on Nov. 18. It was the IHC’s first hat trick since Leon Biller scored the only one for the Islanders last year on March 6 in an 8-4 win over the Northern Cyclones.
Northern Cyclones Earn First Weekend Sweep Of The Season, Enjoying 3-0 Streak
The Cyclones had the first complete sweep of an opponent for 2023-24, defeating the Boston Junior Bruins by 6-2 and 4-1 scores on Nov. 16-17. They had beaten the Utica Jr. Comets twice in a row on Oct. 27 and 28, but Utica defeated the Cyclones on Oct. 29 in that three-game weekend series.
- The Junior Bruins avenged an earlier season sweep of them by the Junior Bruins on Oct. 14-15, though the Cyclones did get a point from a shootout loss that weekend. The Cyclones last beat the Junior Bruins in two straight matches on Jan. 7 and 28, 2023, but those games were separated by five games in between against other opponents.
- Both the Junior Bruins and Northern Cyclones have records of better than .500 against each other, a testament to a close all-time series since the NCDC started in 2017. The Junior Bruins are 17-13-1-2 all-time and the Cyclones are 16-15-1-1. The Junior Bruins lead the points race 37-34.
- The Junior Bruins went 0-for-9 on the power play, which boosted the Cyclones’ already league-leading penalty kill percentage to 88.1 (12 goals against on 101 opportunities). It’s a good thing their kill is good, as they have the second-most PIM per game at 21.6.
- Only the South Shore Kings have played in more four-goal decisions this year than the Cyclones’ five, but Northern finally broke through for their first win in such a game with the 6-2 victory. They also earned their first win by a three-goal margin out of five such games.
- The Cyclones did not score a shorthanded goal this past weekend, but they remain tied for the league lead in that category with five. Michael Markowski is second in the league in shorthanded points with three.
Pueblo Bulls Come Away With Three Points, Pull Into Third Place Tie In Mountain
The Pueblo Bulls bounced back from a tough weekend against Ogden to rack up three much-needed points in the tight middle of the Mountain Division. They defeated the Provo Predators 4-1 on Nov. 18, one day after a 3-2 shootout loss to Provo. They were able to improve to 9-8-1-1, pushing themselves back up above .500 and giving them 20 points for a tie for third place with Utah. The Bulls are now 2-3-0-1 against Provo on the season (Provo is 4-2-0-0 against Pueblo).
- The Nov. 17 game was the Bulls’ first foray into an NCDC shootout. The shootout went four rounds and it was Provo’s Nicholas Noble who sent home the shootout-winning goal.
- The Bulls have the third-most dangerous offense in the NCDC with 3.84 goals per game. It helps that they also have the second best power play, which produces at a 26.2 percent success rate. They’ve scored 22 goals on 84 opportunities.
- Nate Farrell registered an assist on the weekend, which improved him to 20 points, making him the No. 2 scorer among all NCDC defensemen. Also among blueliners, he is first in goals with eight, and he is tied for the league lead in PPG with three. Will Sinclair is second in goals by defensemen with seven and he is in that five-way tie for the lead in PPG, making Pueblo the only team with two blueliners with at least three goals apiece.
- Jack Hanson, who had a goal and an assist in the 3-2 shootout loss, is second league-wide in power play assists with 10 and second in power play points with 11.
South Shore Kings Take Three Points In Split Against Host Utica
The Kings did just enough to hold onto a share of first place in the New England Division and stand also in a tie for second in the league with the Islanders Hockey Club, just four points behind the defending Dineen Cup Champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. The Kings and Jr. Comets each won 3-2 decisions, the Jr. Comets winning theirs in overtime on Nov. 18. The Kings won 3-2 in regulation on Nov. 19 to close their November schedule. They went 4-1-1-0 during the month of November.
- After 20 games, this season is the Kings’ best so far, as they stand at 15-3-1-1 for 32 points. That puts them at one point better than their 14-3-3-0 record after 20 games in the inaugural season of 2017-18, which gave them 31 points.
- Rookie Jake Kavanagh has put together a strong six-game run of points, with a 5-4-9 run over that stretch going back to Nov. 4 and covering each and every game of November for South Shore.
- The Kings have outshot their opponents in 19 of their 20 games, posting a 14-3-1-1 record to lead the league in wins and points when outshooting the other side. The Kings scored three straight goals – including two from Kavanagh – in a row, coming back from trailing in the first and being tied after two periods. South Shore is the only undefeated team when trailing after a period (3-0) and they are 2-0-0-1 when tied after two periods.
- South Shore is top two in many important metrics, such as goals for (4.00, first), goals against (2.10, second), shots against (28.55, first) and shots on goal per game (42.47, second).
- The Kings are also first in power play percentage (30.2, 26-for-86) and second in penalty kill (86.4, 8-for-59).
- Salvatore Cerrato is fifth in defenseman scoring at 17 points and tied for third in assists at 15 points. Also tied with Cerrato is King Jason Zaccari, who has 16 points, sixth in league scoring.
- Goaltender Ryan Keyes ranks second in goals against average (1.78), second in wins (13) and fifth in save percentage (.937).
- A couple rookies are tops among some major categories, such as power play goals (Xavier Vaillancourt with eight) and in game-winning goals (Jake Kavanagh with six, his sixth coming on Nov. 19).
- Veterans Nathan Stachowiak (28 points) and Culin Wilson (27 points) are No. 2 and 3 in league scoring overall. Wilson is second in assists with 19.
Jersey Hitmen Split With Mercer, Earn Additional Win In OT
Daniel Prazma’s first goal of the year was the game-winner in overtime on Tuesday, Nov. 21, to help the Hitmen to a 4-3 victory. This followed a split weekend against Mercer for the Hitmen, when they fell 5-2 in the first game and won 5-2 in the second game.
- The Jersey Hitmen were third entering Tuesday in shots on goal per game, at 41.45.
- The Rockets and Hitmen hit the ice as two of the three teams that were tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals. Prazma’s goal was shorthanded which gives them a league-leading sixth shortie as a team.
- Lucas DiChiara has moved up quickly on some of the defenseman leaderboards, including being in a tie for the league lead in power play goals at three heading into Tuesday’s game.
Around The Boards
The Mercer Chiefs got the aforementioned split with the Hitmen last weekend, a pair of 5-2 games going either way. Mercer is in fifth place in the Atlantic with 16 points, but also only five points out of second place, currently held by their opponent of this coming weekend, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
- Ethan Byrne is enjoying a growing assist streak, as he has three helpers in his last three games. Byrne leads the team with 16 points in 17 games.
The Ogden Mustangs split the weekend and were on both ends of shutouts, defeating the Rock Springs Grizzlies, 6-0, before falling to the rival Utah Outliers by a 3-0 score on Nov. 18. These games marked the Mustangs’ first-ever shutout win and shutout loss in the league.
- Ogden continues to lay claim to the No. 2 offense in the league, averaging 3.94 goals per game.
- Vladislav Bryzgalov got his first shutout, also the team’s first, and stands in a tie for second in save percentage (.942) and third in GAA (1.89)
- Casper Conradsson-Kelvgard’s first three goals of the year were good for half the offense in their 6-0 win.
The Provo Predators defeated Pueblo 3-2 in a shootout and fell by a 4-1 score in their second game. Provo gets ready for a Wednesday game against Ogden and Saturday against Utah.
- The Preds continue to be the shootout kings. With five this year, they have two more than anyone else, and their three shootout wins also lead the league. They have been in three shootouts in November alone.
- Nicholas Noble scored the game-winning shootout goal, which was his first of that kind and second GWG overall. His last two goals scored of one brand or another are both game-winners, the last coming Oct. 28.
- Michael Polston has been in net for all three shootout wins and leads the league in that category.
The Utah Outliers fell to the Idaho Falls Spud Kings, 3-1, on Friday before turning it around to beat the Ogden Mustangs, 3-0, on Saturday. The Outliers’ two shutout wins on the season have been on either side of their loss to Idaho Falls.
- Philip Rondina has both shutouts, 33 saves a week earlier and 27 saves against Ogden.
- Garrett Joss has 11 points over his last six games, the most productive active scoring streak in the league and tied for longest.
The Utica Jr. Comets defeated the South Shore Kings, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday and then the Kings took the win by the same score in regulation Sunday.
- Chalk up two more one-goal games for Utica, who lead the league with 12 such decisions. They are 6-3-2-1 in one-goal games, accounting for 57 percent of all their total games. Their next most common margin is two goals, and they’re the leader there as well with five games and a 4-1-0-0 record.
- Louie Kamienski scored his third game-winner of his career, and second this season – and second straight after also registering the GWG on Nov. 11. His GWG ended a six-game 5-6-11 scoring streak.