Week of Nov. 8, 2022
By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
The Mercer Chiefs could get used to this. They are coming off three straight wins over the past weekend against the Utica Jr. Comets, a trio of W’s that moved them to second in the South Division as a first-year organization. The Chiefs, whose winning streak actually dates back to Halloween for a 4-0 run, are five points behind the division-and league-leading Jersey Hitmen, who are on a 3-0 run of their own.
At 23 points, the Chiefs are now in a three-way tie in the points category with the Northern Cyclones and New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. The Monarchs’ OT victory on Friday night not only evened the North lead in the points race between the Monarchs and Cyclones, but also ended a nine-game winning streak for the Cyclones. Northern still has the league’s best points streak at 10 games, but that doesn’t mean it has to be lonely at the top.
The Boston Junior Bruins, who have points in their last four, have jumped into a tie for fifth in the North and may be the sleeping giant awoken.
The South logjam below first and second shows five teams just seven points apart. Any team gets on a run and it could be potentially trouble for the others in the logjam – and for the two teams at the top.
Let’s get into the teams that put together the most points since November 1.
(Records Shown are those since Nov. 1)
Mercer Chiefs (3-0)
The Chiefs played an opponent three times in a row for the first time when they defeated Utica by the score of 5-2, 3-2 in overtime and 6-3 between Friday and Sunday. In fact, this was only the second time in this inaugural season they’ve seen a team in even two consecutive games. They played the Boston Advantage at home between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. What followed were two showcases (Jersey Hitmen Classic and Beantown Classic), which ran on either side of five games against different South Division opponents.
The Chiefs’ head-spinning schedule of October is past now, and they move on to another three-game weekend against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – and then it’s onto another showcase, next week’s Islanders Hockey Club Showcase in Tyngsboro and North Andover, Mass.
- The Chiefs not only set their best winning streak in the NCDC so far, but also beat by one game their prior points streak, which came from their first three games – Sept. 23 against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (3-2 shootout loss), and Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 against the Advantage (4-3 OT loss and 6-0 win).
- Their 14 goals scored against Utica equaled a prior season-high for most goals in three games between Oct. 14-21 (5-2 W against P.A.L., 5-4 loss to the Rockets Hockey Club, 5-4 OT win against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers).
- Keaton Lipsett has scored points in each of the Chiefs’ four recent wins, putting up two goals in the first pair of games and two assists in the last two). Additionally, defenseman Trevor Davis put up three goals and two assists for five points these last four.
- Goalie Jacob Stern (‘03) is a third-year Chief and first-year NCDC player who has won three straight, including two of the four victories. His 34-save performance kept Utica off the board on Nov. 6 after Utica had taken a 3-1 lead en route to the Chiefs’ eventual 6-3 come-from-behind win. Stern leads the way for the Chiefs goalie corps, going 5-2-1-0 with a .921 save percentage.
The Road Ahead: The Chiefs and WBS Knights will meet for the first time as the new NCDC teams for 2022-23.
Jersey Hitmen (2-0)
The Hitmen are on their second winning streak of three games, both on either side of their Oct. 28 loss to the South Shore Kings. From there, they’ve beaten the Kings 4-1, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers 1-0 (on Nov. 4) and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 3-2 in overtime (on Nov. 5).
- The Hitmen’s OT win against P.A.L. is their second this year, but first since their Sept. 23 season opener, a 3-2 OT victory against the WBS Knights (also the Knights’ NCDC debut game). The Hitmen are a third of the way to matching their six overtime games last year, four of which were wins.
- Goaltender J.J. Cataldo became the first NCDC goalie to earn 10 wins this season (12 goalies had hit at least 10 in 2022-23). He’s held a sub-1.00 goals against average since his second game, which resulted in his first of seven shutouts this season, a span of 42 days. He also holds a league-best .971 save percentage.
- Those seven shutouts set the new NCDC record for blankings in a single season!
- While we’re on the subject of records, Sean Melso tied the record previously set in 2018-19 by Tanner Palocsik for career points by a defenseman. With a goal and an assist recently, Melso now has 88 points to tie Melso. Watch for an upcoming feature on another one of the #NCDCDieHards, Sean Melso, to celebrate this milestone – and potentially the breaking of the record to become the all-time leading scorer among NCDC defensemen!
The Road Ahead: This Thursday, the Hitmen have a stand-alone 1 p.m game against the Utica Jr Comets in the first meeting between the two squads this year. The Hitmen have won all but two of the 28 historic all-time series match-ups, with the Jr. Comets picking up a 6-2 win on Oct. 16, the first game of a weekend split.
New Hampshire Jr Monarchs (1-0)
After completing their third showcase event at the Fall Beantown Classic on Halloween Day, the Monarchs had a quieter week last week – in terms of volume of games, though their win against the Northern Cyclones was deafening given its gravity. The Cyclones had been on a nine-game winning streak and now that’s over, even if their points streak is still raging at a powerful 10 games (9-0-1-0).
- After Paden Hicks scored his 11th of the season for the Cyclones, the Monarchs found themselves down after one period for the fifth time this season. They were also down 3-1 after 40 minutes, but they came back to earn their first victory after trailing following 20 or 40 minutes of play. They are now 1-4-0-0 when trailing after one and trailing after two.
- The Monarchs played their second OT session in three games, but earned their first OT victory this year. They had earlier lost to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3-2 on Oct. 30 at the Fall Beantown Classic.
- Bryce Bollman’s fifth goal was the OT winner – and Bollman’s second of the game and fifth in five games. After scoring two points in his first eight games, he now has 10 points (off a 5-5-10 line) in his last seven contests since Oct. 18.
- Newcomer William Noll, who played in his first NCDC game on Oct. 21, registered his first point on his team’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to Mercer on Halloween, and then assisted on Kodi Dotterer’s game-tying goal that helped push the Monarchs into the OT.
- Jake Fillion stopped 33 of 36 against the Cyclones in the OT win to earn his ninth win, just one behind league leader J.J. Cataldo of the Hitmen. He is fourth in both goals against average (1.70) and save percentage (.940).
The Road Ahead: The Monarchs are back in action Wednesday and Thursday against first the Islanders Hockey Club and then the South Shore Kings. New Hampshire holds a 12-4-1-3 all-time series lead against the IHC, which includes wins this year on Sept. 27 (3-2) and Oct. 12 (2-1).
Against South Shore, the Monarchs hold a very slim lead of 8-7-0-2 in their all-time series after winning 2-1 on Oct. 18.
South Shore Kings (1-0)
The Kings earned their first shutout victory of the season, winning 4-0 in their trip to the Twin City Thunder’s home in Auburn, Maine. It was the Kings’ second win in three games to help them crack double digits in points for the first time this season. Their 5-8-1-0 record has them at 11 points and in a tie for fifth place in the North Division. They remain seven points out of third place currently.
- Ben Williams’ 30-save performance against the Thunder helped to even his season record to 4-4-1-0.
- Nathan Stachowiak’s two goals gave him four in his last four games, showing that the ‘04 is quickly picking up steam.
The Road Ahead: The Kings face the Boston Advantage on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., followed by a game two days later at the same time and same place – both in Foxboro – against the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
This will be the first meeting for the Kings against the Advantage, against whom they hold an all-time series record of 8-3-0-0. The Monarchs defeated the Kings 2-1 on Oct. 18, bringing the Kings’ record in the all-time series to 8-8-0-1.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (1-0-1-0)
The Islanders put up their season-high of seven goals in a 7-5 victory against the Rockets Hockey Club on Nov. 4, followed one night later by a 3-2 OT loss to the Jersey Hitmen, giving them a three-point weekend. It was the first time since sweeping their three games at the Hitmen Classic (Oct. 6-8) that they were able to earn points in consecutive games.
- Along with setting a season high of seven goals, their most since a 7-1 win over the Rockets on Nov. 20, 2021, the Islanders and Rockets’ 12 combined goals were the most since a 9-3 loss to the Hitmen on Jan. 22, 2022.
- The Jr. Islanders saw their first decision in overtime this year, after starting the season with three straight shootouts (in which they went 1-2).
- Luca Leighton has a goal and five assists for six points in his last three games. His three straight multi-point games (0-2-2, 0-2-2, 1-1-2) mark a career best streak in that category over 65 regular season games.
The Road Ahead: On Friday at 1 p.m., the Jr. Islanders travel to face the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, followed by a Sunday evening (6:45 p.m.) home game against the Rockets Hockey Club.
The Islanders, who are 1-1 against Connecticut already this season, are 16-11-1-0 all time against the Jr. Rangers. P.A.L. won 3-1 on Oct. 16, and the Jr. Rangers won 4-0 on Oct. 22.
Due to so many times going beyond regulation with the Rockets, both teams have positive records in the all-time series. The Jr. Islanders are 12-11-3-3, while the Rockets have garnered six more points with a 17-10-0-2 record.
Boston Junior Bruins (1-0-0-1)
For the first time in the 2022-23 season, the Junior Bruins have registered points in at least four straight games. The most recent two of these were a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders Hockey Club on Nov. 5, followed one night later by a 2-1 OT win over the visiting Twin City Thunder. Going back to their last two games of the Fall Beantown Classic, the Junior Bruins are 3-0-0-1 in the last four contests. As a point of contrast in the tale of two seasons, the Junior Bruins won their final eight games of the 2021-22 season on their way to an appearance in the Dineen Cup Finals.
- With their second run of three straight games going beyond regulation (including a 3-2 OT win against the Utica Jr. Comets on Halloween), the Junior Bruins lead the NCDC with six games going to OT or the shootout. They are 2-0 in overtime and 1-3 in the shootout for nine points earned after 60 minutes, tied for first with the Mercer Chiefs (3-1 in OT, 1-0 in the shootout).
- With four shootouts by Nov. 5, the Junior Bruins have already more than doubled their amount of 1v1 sessions of last year. The last time they had four was over the entire 2019-20 season.
- Jonathon Surrette (‘03) has been heating up, with goals in three straight, including the OT winner against the Thunder and the only goal against the Islanders.
- Leading scorer and veteran Easton Ryan is enjoying an active seven-game point streak with 4-4-8. Overall, he has 16 points in 18 games. He is closing in on the 1.00 point per game average career mark with 63 points in 66 regular season games.
- Goaltender Cameron Carroll (‘02) has proven to be an outstanding add, signing in mid-October and starting his NCDC career with a 3-0-1-0 streak to match that of the team back to Oct. 30. With a 1.77 goals against average and a .942 save percentage, Carroll is in the top five for both categories.
The Road Ahead: The Junior Bruins travel north to Auburn for a two-game set against the Thunder. The Junior Bruins are 10-3-0-1 all-time against the Thunder. Twin City, however, has won a pair of games and taken the point on Nov. 6 in the OT loss for five points gained already this year against the Junior Bruins.
Twin City Thunder (1-1-1-0)
Who better to talk about next than the Thunder? Along with setting up a great series for this Friday and Saturday in Maine, the Thunder have been able to pick up points in two out of their last three games since the start of November.
On Nov. 4, they suffered a 4-0 loss to the South Shore Kings, bounced back with a 4-2 win against the Boston Advantage, and finished with the 2-1 overtime defeat against the Junior Bruins. Getting three points in this new month helped them to pull one point closer to the Boston Advantage, who are at third place in the North with 18 points to the Thunder’s 17.
- Playing clean is paying huge dividends for Twin City. The least penalized team at 9.19 minutes per game is first in power play percentage at 26.1 percent (12 goals on 46 attempts).
The Road Ahead: Read above for the breakdown of their series against the Junior Bruins.
Boston Advantage (1-1)
On Nov. 2, the Advantage shook off a 5-2 loss to the Rockets Hockey Club to close the Fall Beantown Classic with a 4-2 victory against the Islanders Hockey Club. The winning buzz didn’t last too long, however, as the Advantage then fell by the same 4-2 score against the Thunder on Saturday.
- The last time the Advantage won and lost by the same score in consecutive games was Jan. 27 and 31, 2022, when they lost to the Junior Bruins 4-2, and then beat the Islanders Hockey Club by the same score. Twice this season, they’ve won consecutive games by the same score.
- Veteran leadership time! Leading scorer and an October North Forward of the Month selection Arik Altman has a goal and seven assists for eight points in four games. Returning forward Luke Panchisin (‘02) also remains red-hot, posting four goals and four assists for eight points in his last four games. Additionally, fellow returning Advantage Conor Lally (‘02) is on a 1-5-6 scoring streak in the same four contests.
The Road Ahead: The Advantage face the South Shore Kings on Tuesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., and then Friday it’s time to host the Northern Cyclones, who are on a 10-game point streak.
In 10 all-time meetings, the Advantage lead the series with a 5-4-1-0 record, including the Cyclones’ 5-4 win on Oct. 14, No. 3 in Northern’s streak of nine straight W’s.
Islanders Hockey Club (1-1-0-0)
The Islanders saw a split week, with a 4-2 loss to the Advantage followed by their 2-1 shootout victory against the Junior Bruins on Saturday. Every win is a step in the right direction, but they still have many miles to go to catch up with the top teams in the North. They’re two points outside of the tie for fifth place and a tough eight points out of fourth.
- Leon Biller’s shootout game-winner was his first career shootout goal in the USPHL, including his prior two years with the USPHL Premier’s Fresno Monsters, for whom he scored 125 points in 69 regular season games. He also scored the IHC’s only goal in regulation. He is a shining example of #USPHLAdvancement In Action!
The Road Ahead: The Islanders face the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Wednesday at home, and will then take the show on the road eight miles away to face their Massachusetts/New Hampshire border rivals the Northern Cyclones on Saturday at noon.
The Islanders have a close 12-9-1-0 series lead on the Northern Cyclones (who are 10-9-1-2 in the series).
Rockets Hockey Club (1-1-0-0)
After their close 7-5 loss to the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, the Rockets got back to winning ways against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers less than 24 hours later. They registered their second shutout win of the season, 3-0, against the Jr. Rangers. The Rockets have the same exact two teams over the next week again, taking on the Rangers Saturday at home and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Sunday on the road.
- Chase Hale’s 48-save shutout of the Jr. Rangers made him the second Rocket to register a shutout already this year, joining Zackary Ferris who made the mark in a 6-0 win on Oct. 23 in wrapping up a 2-1 weekend against the WBS Knights. The only other team with two goalies having at least one shutout are the Northern Cyclones, who continue on their 10-game point streak at 9-0-1. Colin Ronan and Pavel Grishin have earned the doughnuts for the Cyclones.
- The second-year NCDC goalie Hale (‘03) is also enjoying a 3-0 run going back to Oct. 30.
- Another great example of #USPHLAdvancement In Action, former USPHL Premier Buffalo Stampede star Caden Cranston is leading the Rockets in scoring with 23 points in 17 games. Going back to Oct. 22, Cranston – who posted a season best 1-3-4 line in the loss to P.A.L. – has a 5-9-14 line in his last seven games. That is second among current scoring streaks only to the Cyclones’ Paden Hicks, who continues on his 11-4-15 line in his last 10 games.
The Road Ahead: As mentioned, the Rockets click the “repeat” button on this playlist, facing Connecticut at home again and P.A.L. on the road again. See above for the Rockets’ record against P.A.L., but Connecticut is up 16-11-2-0 on their all-time series.
Drop the Pucks!