By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
New month, new storylines – in some places – but also one great thread that stretches all the way back to Columbus Day Weekend in Wayne, N.J. The Hitmen Classic on Oct. 7 saw the last P.A.L. Jr. Islanders loss, and they will be able to stretch their winning streak by two months of calendar time when they suit up against the Rockets Hockey Club on Friday. They are 16 games into a winning streak that now ties the Islanders Hockey Club (twice, see below for details).
Elsewhere, the Islanders Hockey Club won three in a row to take over sole possession of first place in the New England Division, and the Provo Predators closed their gap on the Mountain Division-leading Ogden Mustangs with two straight wins. We’ll jump into all these storylines, as well as in-depth looks at sweeps by Connecticut, Mercer, Pueblo and a big three-point weekend for the Northern Cyclones in Maine.
Games of Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2023
All statistics and related rankings are as of the morning of Dec. 6
Islanders Hockey Club Takes Three At Home To Earn Four-Point Lead In New England
The Islanders Hockey Club took every opportunity to get back to No. 1 in the North, and did just that by earning three W’s against the visiting Utica Jr. Comets. The Islanders won 3-0, 5-1 and 3-2 over three successive days between Dec. 1-3. With that, they improved their record against Utica (and their Syracuse predecessors) to 15-7-1-1 all time.
- Last weekend marked the first time since the 2019-20 season that the Islanders faced the same opponent in three straight games. The last time it happened, they actually played two consecutive home-and-home weekends against the South Shore Kings over Nov. 23-24 and Dec. 6 and 8, 2019. The Islanders won three of those matchups, but not in a row.
- In the 5-1 victory, Braxton Powers and Matthew Babineau both had shorthanded goals, making the Islanders the third team to score multiple shorties in one game. The Rockets Hockey Club (Oct. 6) and Northern Cyclones (Nov. 4) are the other two. They rank second in most SHG by a team this year, with five – one behind the league-leading Jersey Hitmen.
- The Islanders have the second best team defense in the NCDC, at 2.09.
- With six wins in a row, the Islanders have the second and third best winning streaks of the season. They won 10 in a row between Sept. 29 and Oct. 20, and their current winning streak started on Nov. 12.
- In Game 1 of the series, the Islanders scored all of their goals in the third period. They have never lost in regulation when tied after two periods, going 3-0-1-0.
- They were outshot in the third game, and their 4-2-1-1 record when being outshot is one of the league’s best.
- Frank Murphy tied with the P.A.L.’s Nick Bevilacqua for most shutouts when he registered his third on Dec. 1, stopping all 20 shots he faced. Murphy is second in save percentage (.941) and third in goals against average (1.91) and wins (11).
- Braxton Powers’ shorthanded goal on Dec. 2 was also the GWG, and he is tied for second in game-winning goals with five.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Hope To Extend Winning Streak After Hitting 16, Second Best In NCDC History
The defending Dineen Cup Champions remain absolutely on fire, going 16 straight with the “W” ever since mid-October. They were able to pull into second place with their most recent victory following 2-1 and 5-2 wins against the Jersey Hitmen. The 2017-18 Islanders Hockey Club won 16 straight between Oct. 6 and Nov. 26, 2017. That year’s Dineen Cup Champions fell to Connecticut, 6-4 on Dec. 2, and then won 16 straight again between Dec. 3, 2017, and Feb. 4, 2018, all part of their league record 47-3 season.
- P.A.L.’s two results last weekend fall in line with their league-leading defense, as they are at 1.83 goals against per game.
- The Jr. Islanders fire the most shots on goal per game at 43.5. They’ve only been outshot six times, but are 4-1-1-0 even when outshot, a league-best mark.
- P.A.L. scored the first goal in both games against the Hitmen, and they’ve done the same 19 times this season in their 24 games, giving them a league-best 17-1-1-0 record.
- The Jr. Islanders were tied 0-0 and 1-1 in the first periods of their two games against the Jersey Hitmen, putting them in a tie for most wins in that situation, at 7-1-1-0. The ties didn’t last too long, and P.A.L. was ahead after two periods in both periods, and they’re 20-0 when leading after two.
- Coleson Hanrahan registered his 23rd assist on Dec. 2, leading the league in helpers by defensemen and ranking third overall. It was his 27th point, also best among all league defensemen. The assist was on a shorthanded goal by Broad and put him into a four-way tie for shorthanded assists with two.
- Goaltender Nicholas Bevilacqua is No. 1 everywhere – wins (18), save percentage (.955), goals against average (1.75), minutes (1,272) and saves (782).
- Ty Broad, leading the league in points (39), also leads in assists with 26, and he and Carter Hanrahan are tied with 16 power play points to lead the league. His 39 points are just two shy of his 2022-23 full season points total of 41. His 87 points are good for fourth in P.A.L. history. His goal and assist this weekend both put him into the P.A.L.’s top five in each category with 34 goals and 53 assists.
- There are several individual scoring streaks going for P.A.L. players. Three – Carter Hanrahan, Ty Broad and Ryan Kearney – are on active seven-game point streaks. Kearney has 12 points in that stretch, Broad has 11 points and Hanrahan has 10 points. Hanrahan also has a seven-game, 10-assist streak, the longest active scoring streak, which is also tied for the second longest overall assist streaks in the league.
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Sweep Pushes Them Into Third In Atlantic Division
The Jr. Rangers not only earned a pair of victories against the WBS Knights, but they also earned shutouts in both. Primo Baldassare stopped a total of 77 shots in measures of 40 and 37 in the two games. They won 1-0 and 2-0 in the pair of games.
- This is the second time in their seven-season NCDC history that the CJR have posted back-to-back shutout wins. During Hub City Tampa, Derek Manzella stopped all 19 he faced on Feb. 6, 2021, to defeat the Boston Advantage 5-0. A day later, Joe Sharib stopped all 37 he faced in a 3-0 win against the Boston Junior Bruins.
- Primo Baldassare is the first in team history to register back-to-back shutout wins, and the first to do so this season on consecutive days. The Islanders Hockey Club’s Frank Murphy is the only other goalie to do it in consecutive games this season, on Nov. 18 and Dec. 1.
- The WBS Knights outshot Connecticut on Dec. 1, which obviously didn’t faze Baldassare any, and it also gave the Jr. Rangers a league-leading eighth victory when being outshot, which has happened 16 times (8-7-1-0).
- Baldassare wasn’t the only big statistical difference-maker on the weekend. Mason Moore had both game-winning goals, including the only goal in the Dec. 1-0 victory – their second this season and second against the Knights (1-0 on Oct. 28). The last Ranger to do so was Andrey Levushkin, who had two straight GWG’s in the early stages at Hub City Tampa, on Jan. 11 against the Advantage and Jan. 13 against the Northern Cyclones.
Mercer Chiefs On Four Game Winning Streak, Climb To Second In Atlantic
The Chiefs earned a two-game sweep of the Rockets Hockey Club on the road this past weekend, following on the heels of an earlier sweep of the WBS Knights. Mercer won 5-3 and 3-1 on Dec. 1-2. This helped Mercer to climb to second in the Atlantic behind the mighty P.A.L. Jr. Islanders.
- The Rockets started out 2-1 up on the Chiefs before they were able to get the 5-3 victory. They got their third victory when down after 20 minutes, going 3-4-0-1. Their third win is tied for second best in that category of comeback.
- They also played in their third and fourth two-goal games to go 3-1-0-0 in that situation.
- Dylan Young has a three-game, four-assist helper streak going during this winning streak, on Nov. 26.
Provo Predators Pull Into Tie For Second Place In Mountain Division
The Predators took a 4-3 and a 5-2 victory against the local rival Ogden Mustangs on Dec. 1-2, giving them a 4-2-0-0 record over the Mustangs. The Predators got a lift into second place thanks to those four points, which tied them with Utah for second place (and just one point ahead of Pueblo).
- The Predators came back from being down 3-1 entering the third period to pull off the Dec. 1 win with three unanswered goals in the third period. They became the fourth team this year to register three wins when trailing after two, raising their record to 3-6-0-1.
- Provo is also the only team in the league to have never lost a one-goal game in 60-65 minutes of hockey. They are 6-0-0-2 in one-goal decisions.
- The Predators are the only team with three goaltenders in the top 10 for goals against average, with Ryan Henry leading at 2.56 for sixth overall, followed by Griffin Davis at seventh with 2.58 and Michael Polston tied for eighth at 2.63.
Pueblo Bulls Take Sweep To Kick Off December, Undefeated In Regulation Through Six
The Bulls went to Rock Springs and took both their games against the Grizzlies, winning 6-1 and 4-1, giving them points in their last six games going back to Nov. 17 (4-0-1-1). That is the third best active streak in the league. At 12-8-2-1, the Bulls are fourth in the Mountain Division but just one point out of the third place tie between Provo and Utah. The Bulls improved to 4-1-0-0 against the Grizzlies this year.
- With 10 goals scored over the weekend, the Bulls stand at No. 1 in team offense with 4.09 goals per game, the only team averaging better than four goals.
- Pueblo didn’t have a power play this past weekend, but they are still No. 2 in the league in PP percentage with a 29.3 mark, only .2 off of the South Shore Kings’ league-leading 29.5 percentage.
- Will Sinclair’s ninth goal of the season to open their 6-1 victory put him at the top of all NCDC defensemen in goal-scoring with nine goals. Teammate Nate Farrell is a close second with eight. Farrell, who had an assist this weekend, is third in league defenseman scoring with 22.
- During the Bulls’ point streak, goalie Beau Altman has gone 3-0-1-0 and has put himself into the top four for league save percentage with a .939 save percentage. He’s also fifth in goals against average at 2.45.
- Two assists this weekend put Jack Hanson into fifth overall in the league for helpers with 21.
Northern Cyclones Sweep Big Part Of Five-Game Point Streak
The Cyclones are enjoying the fact that they have not left a rink without points since Nov. 10, nearly a month. Recently, they took three points out of a home and home with the Twin City Thunder, falling 5-4 in overtime and winning 2-0 at home. The Cyclones are on their best point streak of the season.
- The Cyclones never had to kill off a power play this past weekend, as the Thunder never got a power play. That means the Cyclones remain as the No. 1 penalty kill in the league at 88.1 percent, giving up just 12 power play goals on 101 opponent opportunities through 22 games.
- Second-year NCDC veteran Logan Abric registered his first career shutout with an amazing 44 saves to get the 2-0 win on Dec. 2. It was not only the second shutout for a Cyclones player this year, but coincidentally Jeffrey Fillion also made 44 saves in his first NCDC shutout on Oct. 28.
Around The Boards
The Idaho Falls Spud Kings took a split with the Utah Outliers, winning 2-1 and losing 5-1. The Spud Kings still hold the lead in their season series so far with Utah, 3-2-1-1.
- Dario Sacino’s first NCDC goal was the game-winner on Dec. 1 in the team’s 2-1 win. Sacino was a recent acquisition, signed in mid-November. He went from being an Espanola Paper King (NOJHL) to an Idaho Falls Spud King.
- The Spud Kings had to hold off a Utah push in the third period of their win, as the Spud Kings only put two shots on goal, the lowest shot total by one team in a third period this season.
- They got their fourth win – and have never lost in regulation – when they were tied after two periods (1-1) in the Dec. 1 victory. They are 4-0-1-0 in that situation.
Utah’s 5-1 win marked the third time since the start of November that they won the second of a two-game series after falling in the first.
- David Utkin is on a three-game, four-goal goal-scoring streak, his third of at least three games. Little surprise exists that Utkin is the NCDC’s goal leader, with 18. He also has the league’s longest active point streak with 18 registered through eight games in a row since Nov. 3.
- Makar Klochkov has six assists over each of his last three games.
- Utah continues to have one of the league’s best defensive corps, registering 31.78 shots against per game, second fewest in the league.
The Boston Junior Bruins and South Shore Kings split their weekend series, with the Kings winning 4-2 on Dec. 2 and the Junior Bruins winning by the same score on Dec. 3. Both were home wins for the victorious teams.
- Shane Baker has the league’s second-longest assist streak, putting up seven assists over each of his last five games going back to Nov. 12.
- The Junior Bruins scored three unanswered goals on Dec. 3, including two of Jake Terra’s hat trick goals. That made them one of four teams this year to win three games that they were trailing at the start of the third period. They are 3-9-0-0 when trailing after two.
- The Bruins and Kings were a little out of character in putting up a combined 44 penalty minutes on Dec. 3. The Junior Bruins are the least-penalized team in the league averaging just exactly 10 minutes per game. The Kings are No. 2 at 11.05 per game. The Dec. 2 game was more on brand for both, with the Junior Bruins sitting for six minutes and Kings for eight minutes.
- The Kings’ Culin Wilson (three points) and Nathan Stachowiak (two points) both hit the 30-point mark on the season to stand in a tie for third in league scoring.
- Ryan Keyes won his 14th of the season for the Kings, and stands second in that category and also second in GAA (1.87).
- Jason Zaccari’s 16th assist, attained this weekend, put him in a tie with teammate Salvatore Cerrato at third in the NCDC in defenseman assists.
The Twin City Thunder split with the Northern Cyclones, winning 5-4 in overtime and losing 2-0.
- John Clay Humphreys’ first goal of the season was the overtime game-winner, also the first of its kind for Twin City this year. They are 1-2 in overtime games.
- Five of the Thunder’s six wins this year were decided by one goal, this most recent win making them 5-1-2-0 in one-goal games.