Records Are For 2022-23 Season So Far
New England Division
It’s time to check in on where the top-performing New England teams stand, what are the factors giving them success, who their leaders on the ice are and what is up over the next week for each.
Islanders Hockey Club (5-0-0-0)
The Islanders are off to their best start since the legendary 19-0 start in 2019-20 that ran from September until their appearance in the USPHL Florida Showcase in the middle of that December. There is an awful long way to go to try to match that performance, but the Islanders are up to the task. The Islanders are outscoring their opponents by an average of just over 2.4 to 1. They defeated the Boston Advantage 5-4 in OT on Oct. 5 – coming back from being down 3-0 after two periods – followed a day later by a 9-4 win over the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. They just defeated the Twin City Thunder, 5-1, on Wednesday.
The Road Ahead: The Islanders take on their longtime rivals the Boston Junior Bruins on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. Though the Junior Bruins won the 2021-22 season series 2-0-0-1, the Islanders hold an all-time series lead of 12-4-3-0.
For their part, the Boston Junior Bruins bounced back from a tough weekend in New Jersey by defeating the Bridgewater Bandits in a 5-4 overtime win. Defenseman Audran Schneider (‘03) saw his first junior goal stand up as the OT game-winner.
- Veteran D Michael Schaaf (‘02) recently committed to Worcester State University, and he’s absolutely dominating with a 1-9-10 line in all five games.
- In his two most recent starts on Oct. 5 and 12, ‘04 Ean Badgett has stopped 75 of 79 shots and he remains 3-0 with a .964 save percentage.
- Several other Islanders have joined Schaaf with active scoring streaks: Jack Roberts (4-3-7 in five), Jesper Seeberg (4-4-8 in four games), Evan Armit (1-3-4 in three games), James Eyre (1-3-4 in his last three) and Trystan Swiger (3-1-4 in four games).
Northern Cyclones (3-0)
Off to their second straight 3-0 season start, the Cyclones schedule has been light early on but will pick up with five games in 14 days to close out October. They’ve proven to be defensively tough already, giving up just 1.33 goals per game while also posting 12 goals (an average of four per game). Over the last week, they downed Springfield (5-1 on Oct. 8) and the South Shore Kings (2-1 on Oct. 12).
The Road Ahead: The Cyclones’ only action over this next week is a Sunday matchup with the Boston Junior Bruins, who are 2-3-0-1 out of the gate.
- Last year, the Junior Bruins gave the Cyclones their first loss after a 4-0 start. The Cyclones own an all-time 11-5-2-1 series lead on the Junior Bruins.
- Fourth-year Cyclone Billy Dougherty (1-2-3) has scored in all three games out the gate. He also sported Cyclones jerseys at the USPHL 16U and USPHL 18U levels in past seasons.
- Max Abramson (‘03) has a 2-3-5 line in scoring in all three games, and is tied for the team lead in points with newcomers Scotty Swain and Benjamin Orgil.
Twin City Thunder (5-4-1-0)
The Thunder on Friday stand at No. 1 in points in the division under new head coach Colt Steele, but their past week has been up and down. The Islanders Hockey Club, standing at second with 10 points off a 5-0 record, defeated them on Wednesday by a 6-1 victory ahead of the 5-3 win against the Boston Advantage on Thursday.
Damon Bossie, a returning ‘04 defenseman, just started his season this past Wednesday and has collected 1-2-3 in those first couple contests, and stands as the only player with points in consecutive games heading into their next action, which is…
The Road Ahead: The Thunder will work on their game for another week before getting out to face the Boston Junior Bruins next Thursday, Oct. 20.
Springfield Pics (3-2-0-0)
The Pics came off a 3-1-0-0 run at the BJB Shootout, and have just played in a single contest since that event, falling 5-1 to the Northern Cyclones on Oct. 8. The Pics kick their season back in gear on Saturday against the visiting New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, and will take on the Islanders Hockey Club on the road next Wednesday.
Chris Foster (‘04) has scored in each game that the team has had goals, putting up 1-3-4 in the last four games.
The Road Ahead: The Monarchs have dominated the all-time series, which currently stands at 7-1-1-0 in their favor.
Boston Advantage (2-2-1-0)
The Advantage will play their first-ever game at the new Lovell Arena on Sunday, against the Bridgewater Bandits. This is an Advantage team looking to get back on the winning side after two recent losses on Oct. 5 to the Islanders Hockey Club (4-3 in OT) and on Oct. 13 to the Twin City Thunder (5-3). The Advantage started this month well enough with back-to-back wins against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and the defending regular season champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, both at the BJB Shootout.
The Road Ahead: Bridgewater is on a hot streak, going 3-0-1 in their last four, so the Bandits certainly present a strong visiting challenge for the Advantage’s inaugural game at Lovell Arena. The Bandits have always been a formidable challenge for the Advantage, as Bridgewater holds a 9-2-0-0 all-time series lead over Boston.
- Since the start of the month, second-year forward Kodai Mizuno (‘03) has been on fire, putting up 3-5-8 in his last four games, hoping to continue that streak against the Bandits.
South Shore Kings (3-3-0-0)
The Kings, who went 3-1-0-0 in the BJB Shootout, fell on some hard times since then, taking back-to-back losses to the Boston Junior Bruins 4-2 on Oct. 5 and to the Northern Cyclones, 2-1, on Oct. 12. The Kings continue to try to get back to what was working for them offensively in Game 1 of the season, an 8-3 win over the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
Canadian import Easton Stafford has been on fire, one of two Kings with points in each of the six games so far, posting a 3-4-7 line. Stafford (‘03) also has all three game-winners for the Kings, and leads the league in that category.
The other King with points in all six is Russian import Karim Gayfullin, an ‘03 who is leading the team with 10 points (4-6-10) in six contests.
The Road Ahead: You’ve seen above the Bandits’ all-time record against Sunday’s opponent, the Boston Advantage. On Wednesday, they face local rivals the South Shore Kings. The Kings have a chance to even the all-time series, which stands at 11-10-0-0 in the Bandits’ favor.
- On the strength of a recent 3-0-1-0 run to shake off a tough four-game losing streak to start the season, the Bridgewater Bandits immediately climbed from eighth in the standings to third when they beat the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 4-1 on Thursday.
Following a 10-day break from games after the conclusion of the BJB Shootout (where they finished 2-2), the Bandits faced the Boston Junior Bruins on Tuesday, Oct. 13, and fell by a 5-4 overtime score.
- After a learning curve, ‘05 goaltender Brendan Flanagan has been outstanding lately with 49 saves on 52 shots in going 2-0 after the BJB Shootout.
- Talk about scoring depth – just eight games in, and the Bandits already have seen 20 players pick up at least one point.
Several of the Mid-Atlantic squads hit the ice last weekend at the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase. Back into divisional play now, the rest of the division has seen the New York Aviators join the party with their first game of 2022-23 on Oct. 12, which was the latest first game of any USPHL Premier squad this year.
Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for the teams, focusing first on those teams who have kept their records above .500 thus far.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (6-4-0-0)
The Knights played in two straight showcases – four games at the BJB Shootout followed by three at the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase. So yes, busy October so far for the defending regular season champions. The division-leading Knights went 1-2-0-0 in their three contests at the Rockets event in Bridgewater, N.J. They started with a 5-3 victory over divisional foes the Buffalo Stampede ahead of losses to the Richmond Generals (4-0) and the Hampton Roads Whalers (3-2), two Southeast Division teams that went 4-0 at the Rockets’ showcase. On the plus side, the Knights are undefeated against Mid-Atlantic Division opponents at 4-0 out of the gate.
The Road Ahead: The Knights face a Connecticut Jr. Rangers team coming off an emotional Friday morning win that puts them one single point behind WBS in the early fight for first place. WBS won their only matchup so far, on Feb. 19, 2022, by a 6-0 score.
Connecticut Jr. Rangers (5-3-1-0)
The Rangers had their share of standings struggles last year, but they are absolutely smashing that rearview mirror lately. Their Friday morning 4-3 victory against the Jersey Hitmen was a gutsy performance, coming off a 1-0 deficit in the first. After all, Coach Jim Henkel and the Rangers were still smarting from their first game against the New York Aviators two days earlier, a 3-2 overtime loss. The Rangers are hoping to keep earning points as they stand amidst a 3-0-1-0 streak entering their weekend series against the WBS Knights.
- Third-year USPHL Premier veteran Elias Holunga (‘03) keeps tearing it up for the his new team in Connecticut, posting 4-6-10 in his last six games, including all four contests at the BJB Shootout.
- Carter Rugg (‘03) has put together a great early season performance, not only posting two goals and one assist in his last three games, but he is also leading the Jr. Rangers in average ice time (23:20).
Utica Jr. Comets (3-3-1-0)
Eleven days after their trip to the New England Sports Center for the BJB Shootout, the Jr. Comets get back into action later on Friday night at 8:50 p.m. against the Buffalo Stampede. The Jr. Comets pinned two of the Jr. Rangers’ three losses on the Connecticut squad in their first weekend back on Sept. 23-25, but hit some bumps in Marlborough, Mass., winning one of four at the Shootout.
The Road Ahead: Utica has won all eight of their meetings against Buffalo, both as the Stampede and their previous incarnation as the Thunder. Last year, the Stampede did take a point from a shootout loss.
- Continuing what seems to be a theme of very productive defensemen, Jeremy McDonald (‘03) is on a tear with a goal and five assists for six points, earned in each of the games he’s played.
- Teito Ishigaki and returning player J.D. Speer are tied for the team lead in points with eight apiece.
- Cameron Manley, another veteran, stands at 2-2 in net but even more impressive is his .946 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average.
Rockets Hockey Club (3-2-0-0)
The Defending National Champion Rockets had just one opportunity to test where they were in their first game. They took away a dominating shutout win over the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, and then went through a buzzsaw in their own RHC Showcase in Bridgewater, N.J., this past weekend. They started out with a close 4-3 shootout win against the Boston Junior Bruins, before defeating the Buffalo Stampede. They then faced the Potomac Patriots and the Hampton Roads Whalers, falling to both in close one-goal games, 3-2 and 4-3. Both of those Southeast Division teams finished the showcase undefeated.
The Road Ahead: The Rockets will face the New York Aviators on Sunday in one of the best, longest-standing Mid-Atlantic rivalries. New York is only one game in, but expect them to do their best to bring mid-season form against the Rockets. The Avaitors only trail 9-11-1-1 so they could even the all-time series in their second game on Dec. 9 – or the Rockets can build off a 13-6-2-1.
New York Aviators (1-0-0-0)
The Aviators won their first game 3-2 against Connecticut, with Max Granlund Wennerberg scoring the OT winner in his first North American game as an ‘02 out of Sodertalje, Sweden. The Road Ahead: Before they renew that rivalry against the Rockets Hockey Club on Sunday, they start with Friday night and Saturday afternoon games at Hershey. They’re facing a Cubs team that swept Elmira last weekend, though the Jr. Enforcers did come back from a real tough first loss to push the Cubs into OT, where the Cubs just barely won in a “track meet,” 7-6.
The Aviators won all four of their meetings last year, in Hershey’s inaugural season.
- The Cubs’ 16 goals on the weekend was their most in two consecutive games against a common opponent since putting up 11 in November last year against Buffalo.
- Hershey’s Ayden Frolik posted five goals in the first win and a 5-2-7 weekend to lead the way against Elmira, and defenseman Brad Burden had 1-3-4 – both were named as Mid-Atlantic Players Of The Week.