#NCDCAwards: P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Named Atlantic Division 2023-24 Organization Of The Year

By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com


The National Collegiate Development Conference is proud to announce that the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have been named the Atlantic Division 2023-24 Organization Of The Year. 

The Jr. Islanders were first-time Founders Cup winners as regular season champions, after going 40-7-4-1 this season for 85 points, the highest total for a league regular season champion since the 2019-20 Jersey Hitmen posted 87 points. P.A.L. also led the league with the best defense overall at 2.17 (113 goals against in 52 games), led by Atlantic Division Goaltender Of The Year Nicholas Bevilacqua, the all-time leader in NCDC wins with 52.

While this award certainly recognizes the on-ice contributions of its players, it also recognizes all of the individuals who create the framework in which the players are able to succeed. 

P.A.L. is an organization that prides itself on a tradition of excellence and a deep culture of loyalty and teamwork across many departments, from the ownership to hockey operations to media/broadcsting and everywhere in between. The Jr. Islanders are in their 50th year as an organization, having originally been founded in 1974. P.A.L. joined forces with the NHL’s New York Islanders in 2016, which created the current P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Hockey Club. The organization is managed by Black Bear Sports, represented by Murry Gunty as Founder and CEO. 

“I am very proud of the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders organization for being named the NCDC’s Atlantic Division Organization Of The Year,” said Gunty, who also serves as USPHL/NCDC Interim Commissioner. “This award is a testament to the hard work everyone in the organization – from management to the players themselves – have put in every day to create a desirable destination for player development and advancement.” 

Today, the P.A.L. Ice Hockey Organization is one of the top hockey organizations in the U.S., with over 600 ice hockey players. In terms of day-to-day operations, Executive Director Ron Kinnear oversees P.A.L. from Mites to Midgets to Juniors. The Jr. Islanders field USPHL teams in each division – NCDC, Premier and Elite – and all three enjoyed winning records in 2023-24. 

The 2023-24 NCDC P.A.L. Jr. Islanders.


Kinnear said much of the success of the organization is a byproduct of the leadership of the team at the very top of a large organizational pyramid of development – and especially a byproduct of the culture created by former P.A.L. player and current NCDC Head Coach/GM Mike Marcou. 

“A Special thanks goes out to our entire staff that is associated with our NCDC team, and it starts from the top, the Head Coach and GM Mike Marcou,” said Kinnear. “He is one of the top coaches in our league, was the NCDC Coach Of The Year last season and led us to the 2023 Dineen Cup championship. This past season, we had one of the most successful seasons in the history of the NCDC. He leads by example, and he is one of the top hockey minds in our league.” 

“What comes to my mind first about P.A.L. is the loyalty within the organization. We have grown due to our focus on the development of the game and of the character of the player coming in,” said Marcou. “I look at a couple players in recent seasons – Spencer Korona and [Atlantic Division Defensive Forward Of The Year] Carter Hanrahan, as both players competed for our NCDC team for four seasons. They built this culture, they focused on development and believed in the process, and now we see the success Spencer is having in college, and Carter will have similar success for a very lucky NCAA school.” 

Everywhere these players look, they see a member of the P.A.L. staff putting in the time and unresting energy to make their junior hockey career the most productive and memorable it can be. This team includes Simone DeLorenzo, who oversees Operations and is Treasurer for the Jr. Islanders; former P.A.L. player Frank DiChiara, NCDC Associate Head Coach and Premier Head Coach; former P.A.L. player and NCDC Assistant Coach Greg Barnych; Goaltending Coach Brent Troyan; the Strength and Conditioning Coach Bryce Tolmie; Olin and Cohen, a firm that provides Trainer/EMT services and overall medical treatments; the Game Day Operations team of Leon Bassitt, Trevor Magnani and Play-By-Play Announcer Brian Rascona; Social Media Coordinators Therese Saunders and Miranda Almodovar; Travel Coordinator Dona Licausi; and Equipment and Embroidery specialists Tim Murray and Tom DeLuca of the New York Islanders ProShop. Additionally, Kinnear thanked “all of the staff at The Rinx in Hauppauge, N.Y., our practice facility, and at our home facility the Northwell Health Ice Center,” and a “Special thanks to all of our billet families.”

All together, these individuals have created a home away from home where players want to join the culture and often stay there as long as they can and need to in order to develop towards a productive college hockey career. Along with four-year P.A.L. player Carter Hanrahan, there were three additional players who just completed their third P.A.L. NCDC seasons (Ty Broad, Dino Mannetta and Michael English) and eight more played their second year with the team. 

With 1,574 regular season man-games of experience at the close of this year, P.A.L. was easily the most experienced NCDC team of 2023-24, while being nowhere near its oldest – at 19 years and 102 days in average age, P.A.L. was ninth oldest out of the 18 NCDC teams. 

“We typically have the fewest transactions, and when we do make a transaction, it’s typically to bring up a player from within our organization,” said Kinnear. “Many of these players we brought up were contributors into the playoffs. We’re not looking at one shiny dime of a player and making it all about them; we want players who know that it takes a village to win the war, and we’re reaping the benefits of that.” 

While P.A.L. does tend to retain players due to its success in the standings, as well as development and advancement, they won’t hold a player back if it’s the best move for them. Atlantic Division Defenseman Of The Year Coleson Hanrahan is a prime example of that. 

“Losing Coleson in February was a huge loss, but we made the right move for Coleson and for his development, and moved him to the USHL and the Youngstown Phantoms, taking advantage of the common ownership of both teams by Black Bear Sports,” said Kinnear. 

“I just want to add again how honored we are to be an Organization Of The Year for two years in a row, as we show the consistency and unity between the management from Murry to Ron to myself, as they allow me and the coaches to keep doing what we need to develop and win,” added Marcou. 

The NCDC congratulates the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders for being named the 2023-24 Atlantic Division Organization Of The Year. 



About The NCDC

The National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) was founded in 2017 as the Tuition-Free Tier II conference of the United States Premier Hockey League, itself founded in 2012. The NCDC consists of 18 teams in three divisions, two on the Eastern Seaboard and one in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

The NCDC has sent more than 250 alumni to play NCAA Division I hockey, and more than 900 overall into NCAA college hockey. There were also more than 250 alumni in pro hockey around the world during the 2023-24 season. Former NCDC player Drew O’Connor has become a regular with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Collin Graf recently signed and has played with the San Jose Sharks, and there have been seven players selected in the NHL Entry Draft from the NCDC.