By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
Games of Dec. 6-11, 2023
The NCDC’s Mountain Division is getting geared up for Thursday’s start of the first-ever league showcase west of the Mississippi (heck, really the first west of the Delaware). It’s the NCDC Frozen Futures Showcase, hosted by the Idaho Falls Spud Kings and their home Mountain America Center between Thursday and Saturday, Dec. 14-16. All six Mountain teams will play three games apiece at the event, with the host Spud Kings taking the prime time 7:30 p.m. game each of the three nights.
Heading into Idaho Falls, the Ogden Mustangs and Utah Outliers are both coming off weekend sweeps. The Mustangs maintain their lead with 36 points, and the Outliers – on a three-game winning streak coming in – closed the gap between the teams to four points. The host Spud Kings just closed out a three-point weekend so that there’s a tight two-point gap between third and fifth place in the division.
Elsewhere, in New England, the Junior Bruins bumped up to fourth place on the strength of a sweep of Twin City. The Utica Jr. Comets were able to gain a sweep of the Northern Cyclones to inch to within five points of the Kings.
No one earned a weekend sweep in the Atlantic, with the Rockets Hockey Club’s three-point weekend being the top performance among five others in the division with 1-1 splits.
Utah Outliers Earn League-Best Fourth OT Win To Complete Weekend Sweep
The Outliers come into Idaho Falls off a weekend sweep against the Provo Predators on Friday (6-1) and the Frozen Futures host Spud Kings (2-1 overtime). Utah has not yet lost to local rival Provo in 60-65 minutes of hockey, going 4-0-0-1 thus far. They improved to 4-2-0-1 against Idaho Falls. The two wins helped them break a second place tie with Provo to stand second alone.
- David Utkin scored both goals – including the OT winner – against the Spud Kings, becoming the first Outlier to score all the goals in a win for his team. He is tied with South Shore’s Jake Kavanagh, a fellow ‘05-born NCDC rookie, for the lead in game-winning goals with six apiece and tied with Connecticut’s Max Jaldung for the league lead in OT goals with two apiece.
- His OT winner was also his league-leading 21st of the season.
- Utkin is also the hottest current player, leading in active goal streaks (seven in his last five games) and active point streaks (16 points in 10 games going back to Nov. 3). Both are tied for second longest of the season overall.
- With the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders’ most recent winning streak snapped this past weekend at 17 games, the Outliers and Boston Junior Bruins have the longest current active winning streaks with three apiece.
- The Outliers’ defensive corps is putting in the work and it’s paying off, as they give up the third fewest shots on goal per game at exactly 32.
- Utah gave up one goal on nine opponent power plays this weekend, helping them attain the No. 1 spot in NCDC penalty killing at 87.1 (12 goals against on 93 times shorthanded).
- Philip Rondina has taken over the No. 1 spot in both goals against average (1.00) and save percentage (.964).
Boston Junior Bruins Extend Winning Streak To Three With Weekend Sweep
The Junior Bruins headed to Auburn, Maine, and came back four points richer following a pair of one-goal regulation wins, 3-2 and 2-1, against the Twin City Thunder. The Junior Bruins improved to 14-4-1-1 against the Thunder going back to Twin City’s 2019 entry into the league. This was the Junior Bruins’ third weekend sweep of the season and first since Oct. 14-15 against the Northern Cyclones.
- The Junior Bruins fare better in one-goal games than any other scoring margin, as they are 7-3-1-0 vs. 2-3 in two-and three-goal games, and 0-1 in the single four-goal game they’ve played.
- The Junior Bruins remain one of just two teams – along with Idaho Falls – to have not allowed a shorthanded goal this season. They are also one of six teams to not have scored a shorthanded goal yet, either.
- Boston has the lowest penalty minutes per game average at just 10.00 minutes per game.
- Alex Scimeca is on a four-game point streak (1-3-4), and goalie Garrett Simpson’s win-loss record has matched the Junior Bruins’ winning streak as he also has three W’s in a row for his personal record.
Ogden Mustangs Keep Hold On Mountain Lead Following Weekend Sweep
The Mustangs stand at 17-5-1-1, giving them 36 points for the season so far, and they helped their cause – winning the first Mountain Division title – by giving themselves a four-point cushion as they near the halfway point of the season just after the Frozen Futures Showcase. Like the Junior Bruins, Ogden won a pair of one-goal games, taking matches against the Pueblo Bulls by scores of 3-2 and 4-3 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Mustangs are now 6-0 against the Bulls on the season.
- Ogden had their highest shot total for a game on Friday, putting up 61, while they also set a high for shots in a period with 24 in the third to help them get the 3-2 win.
- Ogden fires the second most shots on goal in the league on average, putting up 41.63.
- The Mustangs and Bulls were tied in both games 1-1 after the first period, and they were tied 2-2 after two periods on Saturday. It was their first win when being tied after two periods (1-2-0-1), while on the other side, they are undefeated in regulation and overtime when tied after one period (9-0-0-1).
- NCDC rookie Parker Osborn improved to second overall in the NCDC scoring race with 35 points and second in goals with 18. He registered two goals on Friday, including the GWG, and had an assist on Saturday.
- Vladislav Bryzgalov won his sixth and seventh of the year in the weekend series and was able to improve his save percentage to .941, good for a tie for third overall in the NCDC. His 2.11 GAA is fifth in the league.
Utica Jr. Comets Take Two At Home, Keep Tight Hold On Third In New England Division
Utica looks one way down the road and sees the Junior Bruins eight points back, and up the road to see the South Shore Kings five points ahead. Although the road may seem lonely right now, they know they have to keep speeding up to catch up the Kings and not idle to give the Junior Bruins a chance to catch up. So it certainly helped to give them a greater cushion on one side and a closed gap on the other by sweeping the Northern Cyclones last weekend, 5-2 and 6-1. It was a huge comeback after a tough three-game weekend prior.
- Louie Kamienski put up a 2-4-6 line on Dec. 8, a league high for the 2023-24 season so far and the most since current Rockets Hockey Club forward Cam Bergeman scored seven on March 11, 2023, at the end of last season.
- The Jr. Comets’ 6-1 victory on Dec. 8 was their first five-goal decision. They’d previously won a 7-0 victory against Mercer on Oct. 2, giving them a 2-0 mark in games of five or more goals at the halfway mark.
- Utica’s 31.81 shots against per game are the second fewest in the league, a high mark for the Jr. Comets D corps.
- Nick Dimatos’ second shorthanded assist of the season made him the fourth blueliner and fifth player overall this season with two shorthanded assists.
- Robert Gatewood scored a hat trick and added two assists for five points on Friday, his first assist in two seasons. It gave him 18 goals thus far, which is good for a share in a three-way tie for second in NCDC goals. Among his hat trick was his seventh power play goal of the year, second most in the league.
Idaho Falls Spud Kings Come Away With Split Of One-Goal Games
The Spud Kings won a 4-3 game against the host Rock Springs Grizzlies, before falling 2-1 in overtime to the Utah Outliers. With 26 points, the Spud Kings reside in fifth place, but they are only two points out of third in a tight middle of the Mountain pack.
- With the win and the overtime loss, the Spud Kings stand at 7-3-2-0 in one-goal contests.
- Idaho Falls and the Junior Bruins remain the only two teams that have not yet given up a shorthanded goal.
- Matteo Mitrovic (17 points) and D.J. MacLeish (20 points) make Idaho Falls one of the only two teams in the league with two blueliners in the top 10 of defenseman scoring, along with South Shore.
Islanders Hockey Club Take Three Points Away From Top Two Battle
In a showdown at the top of the New England Division, the Islanders Hockey Club came out a point richer than the South Shore Kings, winning 3-2 in regulation and falling 5-4 in overtime. The Islanders, unbeaten in regulation in their last 11 games (8-0-2-1) remain at the top of the standings with a five point lead at 41 points. The Kings are at 36 points.
- The Islanders are tied with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Utica Jr. Comets for most one-goal games this season, at 13. Out of these three, they have the most points earned in one-goal games at 21 (8-0-4-1). They join the Provo Predators (6-0-0-2) as the only two teams undefeated in regulation in one-goal games.
- No team has gone beyond regulation more than the Islanders, with nine games going beyond regulation. They are 3-4 in overtime and 1-1 in shootouts for a league-best 13 points.
- The IHC defense and goaltending crew earn high marks for having the league’s second best team goals against average of 2.20.
- December has worked out well for IHC leading scorer Tikhon Ashikhmin, as he is on a four-game point scoring streak with seven points (all from assists) so far for the month. His three-point weekend against the Kings moved him into a tie for third place in points with 32. He also has the second most power play points in the league at 14.
- A power play assist this past weekend kept defenseman Samuel Larsson second in that category as well as power play points among NCDC defensemen, with 10 and 12, respectively.
- The Islanders Hockey Club’s Frank Murphy remains one of the league’s top goalies, ranking fourth in GAA (2.08), fifth in save percentage (.937) and he is third in wins with 12.
- Max Lundgren’s game-winner on Thursday was his fifth that tied him for second most in the league with teammate Braxton Powers.
Rockets Hockey Club End P.A.L.’s Winning Streak With Weekend Split
The Rockets did what no other team could do over 17 games – they were able to defeat the defending Dineen Cup Champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders for the first time since Oct. 7. With the Jr. Islanders streak ended – in a 5-4 regulation victory on Dec. 9 – their lead in the Atlantic sits at 20 points. The good news for the rest of the pack is that there are only seven points separating second from sixth. Every team can make a run and, even if it’ll be nigh unto impossible to catch up with P.A.L. anytime soon, teams could begin to grasp hold of another top four spot and work to keep it into the spring. The Rockets sit at fifth in the division with 20 points.
- The bulk of the Rockets wins come from their 12 one-goal games, in which they are 4-3-4-1 for 13 points.
- Veteran Jonah Copre’s three-point weekend allowed him to remain second in overall defenseman points (27) and tied for first in assists by a defenseman (24). Copre’s 24 assists also rank as the second most in the league.
- Cam Bergeman’s two goals this weekend keeps him in a tie for second most in the league at 18.
Around The Boards
There were no less than seven teams that came out with even splits for two points apiece last weekend. On four teams in the 18-team NCDC left the week of Dec. 6-11 with no points.
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Mercer Chiefs each took one win at the other team’s home rink. Connecticut won 7-1 at Mercer and Mercer won 4-3 in regulation in Connecticut.
- Mercer has only been tied after two periods of a game twice this season and their 4-3 victory was their first win in that situation.
- Carl Johan Salle registered the GWG on Dec. 8, which makes him one of five defensemen league-wide with two or more game-winners. His eighth power play assist this weekend helped him break into the top five for that category among defensemen.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and Jersey Hitmen split with a 5-2 WBS win on Saturday and a 6-3 Hitmen win on Sunday.
- Both games on the weekend saw hat tricks, with William Jasmin scoring three on Saturday and Jack Matsukubo scoring three on Sunday. It was the third hat trick for each team this season. Jasmin has all three for WBS, the only player in the NCDC to have scored all their team’s hat tricks so far.
- Jasmin’s big weekend launched him from a tie for 14th in the league to a tie for seventh in points with 31 so far.
As mentioned, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders’ team record winning streak (17) came to an end on Sunday with the Rockets’ 5-4 win, but they were able to set that mark with a 4-3 OT victory on Saturday. The Islanders were down 3-1 after two and came back to win, their second win this season when trailing after 40 minutes (2-2-1-0).
- The Jr. Islanders lead the league in overall team defense with a 2.00 GAA.
- Coleson Hanrahan remains No. 1 in the league in points by a defenseman with 28 points, and he’s also No. 1 in assists (24), power play assists (11) and power play points (14).
- Nicholas Bevilacqua leads the league in goalie wins (19), minutes played (1,332) and saves (820). He is second in GAA (1.80) and save percentage (.953).
- A four-point weekend by Ty Broad put his league-leading point total at 43. He and teammate Carter Hanrahan are tied for first in assists with 26 and Coleson Hanrahan is tied for the second most with 24. He is nine points away from 100 for his Jr. Islanders career and already ranks fifth in goals (38) and assists (53) and fourth in points (91) in team history.
The Rock Springs Grizzlies split their weekend, falling 4-3 to the Idaho Falls Spud Kings before beating the Provo Predators, 2-0.
- Tucker Inabinet (25) and Nikolas Charles (22), the latter a call-up from the USPHL Premier Vernal Oilers, shared the credit for the Grizzlies’ historic first NCDC shutout win.
The South Shore Kings lost 3-2 to the Islanders Hockey Club on Dec. 7, and then won 5-4 the next day in overtime.
- Ryan Keyes remains second in wins (15) and third in GAA (2.04) among NCDC goaltenders.
- Jason Zaccari and Salvatore Cerrato each had one assist on the weekend to hold onto their claim on the second most in the league.
- South Shore added three more power play goals to their league-leading total of 31 (out of 103 power play opportunities) for a 30.1 percentage, also No. 1.
- The Kings give up the fewest shots against per game at 29.04, the only team averaging below 30.