USPHL Premier Through The Numbers: North Region

By Patrick Ramsdale and Joshua Boyd / 


Let’s dive right in and see how the best teams in the Mid-Atlantic and New England Divisions have been performing recently. Records showing are each team’s record since Oct. 15 and through Oct. 23. 


Mid-Atlantic Division 

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (4-0-0-0) 

The Knights pulled into third place for the entire USPHL Premier Conference, thanks recently to back-to-back sweeps of the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. 

Drake Reid (‘02) had a great showing in the second game of the weekend, recording four assists – after, of course, helping the Knights with the OT goal on Oct. 15 against Connecticut. Ryan Berke found the scoresheet four times as well, netting three assists and a goal. 

  • A 4-0 streak is certainly impressive, but it has nothing on the 13-game winning streak the team started with in the 2021-22 season, its first in the USPHL. They also nearly ended last year on a 9-0 run, falling in a shootout to the Northern Cyclones to make it a 9-0-0-1 points streak. 
  • Reid, a third-year Premier veteran and returning All-Star, has played equally this year between the Knights’ Premier and NCDC veterans, skating six games on each side. 
  • After registering two points in his first eight games, Jonathan Meijer (‘03) has completely exploded with two goals and seven assists over these last four wins, keeping that winning streak going into his next game. 
  • Returning veteran Landon Reed (‘02) has an active 1-3-4 line over the last four games. 

The Road Ahead: The Knights are home from Saturday through Monday, taking on Hershey in the first game and then the New York Aviators for two, including a Halloween morning 9 a.m. game, their final home game until Dec. 3. Both are first time meetings this season against these opponents. 

  • The Knights enjoyed a 4-0 streak against Hershey in their 2021-22 meetings, while the Aviators won 5-4 in overtime on Jan. 21, 2022 with the Knights taking the other three games in regulation. 


Utica Jr. Comets (3-0)

Utica came back from a nine-day break between games to take on the Buffalo Stampede at Cornerstone Arena on Oct. 14. The Jr. Comets won 7-1 in a contest that saw 12 different players find the scoresheet and with seven players recording a multi-point night. 

Their follow-up was a sweep weekend against the Hershey Cubs, with a 3-1 win and a much more decisive second game score on Friday. All but seven players recorded at least one point. Connor Santay and Jude Cole both had five-point performances in the Friday game.

  • The Jr. Comets broke the double-digit mark in a game for the first time since Feb. 13, 2021. Their highest total in 2021-22 was nine goals on Jan. 30, 2022. 
  • Defenseman Jeremy McDonald (‘03) is clicking along at a better than point-per-game pace over all nine games that he’s played, putting up a 1-9-10 line, including his first two point (two-assist) game against Hershey on Friday. 
  • Fourth-season Jr. Comets veteran J.D. Speer (‘02) is on a four-game streak in which he’s posted 4-6-10, including goals in his last four. He remains fifth in points in Jr. Comets Premier history and at 88 points is only two points away from passing former teammate Tyson Rohrer, now at Neumann University. Speer leads the team in scoring early on with 16 points through 10 games. 
  • Third-year Premier veteran Jude Cole (4-5-9) and Teito Ishigaki (1-7-8) are both also enjoying four-game point streaks. 

The Road Ahead: This Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, the Jr. Comets bring in the Jersey Hitmen for a pair of games. 

  • The Hitmen and Utica are almost dead even in their 18 all-time Premier match-ups, with the HItmen claiming one single more point over the duration with a 9-8-1-0 record vs. the Jr. Comets’ 9-9-0-0 mark. 


Rockets Hockey Club (2-0-1) 

The Defending National Champion Rockets took on the New York Aviators on Oct. 16 at Bridgewater Sports Arena, winning the contest in a 5-4 victory. Marco Taffo netted two goals in the contest while Yakov Yakzhin recorded the game-winning goal and an assist.

The Elmira Jr. Enforcers got their first win over the Rockets Hockey Club since Jan. 14, 2021, when they defeated the Rockets 5-4 in overtime on Saturday, Oct. 22. With the help of four goals – including the tying and game-winning goals – by Nathan Garau, the Jr. Enforcers came back from being down in the first and tied after the second to get their first win of the season. 

The defending champs didn’t take kindly to that result and defeated Elmira 4-0 on Sunday. 

  • This recent three-game stretch marked the first time this year the Rockets have scored at least four goals per game in a row. 
  • The Rockets registered their second shutout of the season, with Liam Gross stopping all 23 shots faced. He also stopped all 21 shots in the season opener on Sept. 23 against P.A.L. 
  • Longtime USPHL Elite star defenseman Max Toomey (‘04) has very successfully made the transition to Premier, registering five assists in his last four games and eight helpers in eight games overall. 
  • Returning champion Joe Quigley (‘02) is also on fire, putting up seven assists in his last six games and a line of 2-9-11 through his first eight of the season. 
  • Erik Hegyi (‘02) scored five goals last season, prior to joining the Rockets this year, where he already has six, including consecutive two-goal games against Elmira. 

The Road Ahead: The Rockets renew their acquaintances with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders after opening the season with a decisive shutout over the Isles. It’ll be a Saturday-Sunday home-and-home starting at The Rinx in Hauppauge on Long Island. 

  • The Rockets have won all 10 games they’ve ever played against P.A.L., though the Jr. Islanders did nab an OT loss point back on Nov. 19, 2020. 


Connecticut Jr. Rangers (2-1-1-0) 

The Jr. Rangers remain in second place in the division at 6-4-2-0, far above where they were on the same day in 2021-22, in last place in the former Atlantic East Division. 

They finished their Oct. 14-16 weekend with a 1-1-1-0 record. On Friday, Connecticut earned a victory at home in a 4-3 win over the Jersey Hitmen. They were on the road Saturday and Sunday as they took on the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights. Saturday’s game ended in a 3-2 OT loss to the WBS Knights, while the Jr. Rangers dropped Sunday’s matchup to WBS, 6-1. The Jr. Rangers took on the P.A.L. Junior Islanders Wednesday Oct. 19, and won 6-2.

  • Premier veteran Elias Holunga (‘03/Golden, Col.) posted two goals and three assists in the team’s four game stretch. Holunga leads the team in points with 14. 
  • Japan’s Ryuto Nakamoto, who took the OT loss against the WBS Knights, still remains undefeated in 60 minutes of hockey, going 2-0-1-0 with a 1.30 GAA and a .962 save %.  Fellow goalie Keaton Hladunowich (‘04) is on a 3-0 winning streak with recent wins on Oct. 15 and 19. 

The Road Ahead: The Rangers host the Hitmen on Friday at home, and then go to Wayne, N.J., to play the host Hitmen on Sunday. 

  • This is an all-time series that is absolutely deadlocked in wins and in points – Connecticut is 8-7-0-1 all-time and Jersey is 8-7-1-0 all-time! 


New York Aviators (2-1-0-0)

The Aviators began play as recently as Oct. 12 when they took on the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in a 3-2 overtime victory. 

New York then traveled to Hershey and took two games from the Cubs with an 8-5 victory on Friday and a 6-1 win on Saturday, and then closed that weekend with a Sunday matchup to the Rockets, resulting in a 5-4 defeat. At 3-1-0-0, their .750 winning percentage actually leads the division, even if they are 14 points back of the leading WBS Knights, who’ve played in 14 games. 

After being idle from games this past weekend, they are just getting back to business on Sunday and Monday against the host WBS Knights. 

  • Veteran Blake Kashark (‘03) has five goals, putting at least one up in each game and two against the Rockets. 
  • Similarly, returning Aviator Mathias Rakell – an All-Star in 2020-21 – has registered seven assists over all four games to lead the team in scoring. 

The Road Ahead: As seen above, the Knights hold the brief all-time series lead of 3-0-1-0.  


New England Division 

Boston Junior Bruins (3-0) 

Another squad, like the Aviators, that just began their season in October, Nevin Hamilton’s Junior Bruins team has gone on a recent tear, going from 2-3-0-1 and in eighth place as of Oct. 15 to 5-3-0-1 and in fourth place today, giving them a slight two-point improvement on their position at the same point last year (4-4-0-1 on Oct. 24, 2021). 

Their recent track record shows wins against three teams ranked higher them at the time (and two still) – the Islanders Hockey Club (4-2 on Oct. 15), the Northern Cyclones (3-1 on Oct. 16) and the division-leading Twin City Thunder (3-2 on Oct. 20). 

  • Together with their Oct. 11 OT win against Bridgewater, the Junior Bruins are on a 4-0 winning streak that they haven’t experienced since between Dec. 19, 2021, and Jan. 9, 2022. They strung together their final win of the previous calendar year with three wins in their first three USPHL Winter Showcase games, before falling to the Ontario Jr. Reign to end that event. 
  • Two-year Junior Bruins veteran Sam Romney scored the shootout-winning goal against Twin City to seal up that fourth straight victory – it was his first career shootout goal, including most of last year with the Elite Junior Bruins. His only goal scored in team play this year was also the game-winner against the Islanders. 
  • First-year Junior Bruin Riley LeBlanc (‘05) is already 2-for-2 on shootouts this year. 
  • Premier veteran Devin Oliver (‘02) is enjoying what he hopes is only the start of a hot streak, posting 2-2-4 in his last three games, after posting one goal in his first five.  
  • Luke Evers (‘03), a former 18U Junior Bruin, is leading the Premier with nine points in nine games. 
  • After a 1-1-0-1 start, veteran goalie Dominik Bovan is cruising on a 3-0 run in net. He holds a 1.92 GAA and .938 save percentage overall. 

The Road Ahead: The Junior Bruins are in the middle of a mini-pause in games, from which they’ll return on Tuesday, Nov. 1, against the Boston Advantage. 


South Shore Kings (2-0) 

The rest of the division is looking over their shoulder at another rising force – the South Shore Kings started out fair at 3-3, but are looking like they’ll soon be joining the top pack after a 2-0 run against the No. 2 Bridgewater Bandits and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. It was a 2-1 shootout win against the Bandits on Oct. 19, followed a day later by a 3-0 shutout win over a struggling New Hampshire squad. 

Points-wise, the Kings are in a three-way tie for fifth – and as you’ll see shortly here, their next two games against both the teams they’re tied with as of Oct. 24. 

  • After toughing out a rough Premier debut against Connecticut, Aidan Boyd (no relation to the author) has been an absolute brick wall the last three games, going 3-0 with one single goal against in three starts. He recently stopped all 29 he saw against the Monarchs, and 26 of 27 against Bridgewater. The lifetime King who has come up from the 16U and 18U Kings to the Premier has a 1.99 goals against average and .941 save percentage overall, but those numbers are more like 0.33 and .985 since Oct. 2.
  • Newcomer ‘03 Karim Gayfullin, who scored the OT winner against Bridgewater, has not missed the scoresheet once this season. He has posted a team-leading 5-8-13 in his first eight North American games. 
  • Easton Stafford (‘03) is another great find for the Kings. From Broomfield, Colo., he comes from the vaunted Compuware Midget program, and has also not missed the scoresheet once for South Shore. With a 4-6-10 line, three-fourths of his goals are game-winners this year. 

The Road Ahead: So, yeah, they’ll try to push away and upwards from their fifth-place tie in points with the Springfield Pics and Northern Cyclones these next two Wednesdays. First is Springfield this Wednesday, and then the Cyclones on Nov. 2, both at Foxboro (along with three more after that). 

  • The Pics hold an 11-10-0-0 all-time series lead, with only one 2017-18 game being resolved beyond regulation, in OT. 


Bridgewater Jr. Bandits (2-1-1-0) 

The Bandits have been all over the map in the last 10 days, with a pair of wins, an overtime loss and a very much not overtime loss. But they remain a strong contender for the division lead, pulling up to second place with 12 points and just two behind the leading Twin City Thunder. 

On Oct. 16, the Bandits won their first trip to the new Lovell Arena against the host Boston Advantage, 2-1, but lost by that same score in OT to the South Shore Kings right afterwards. Back on the winning side, they defeated the Pics, 4-1, but then lost on Oct. 23 to the Cyclones by a 7-2 score. 

They’ll play their final October game Wednesday against the Islanders Hockey Club, in order to try to get the W and string some wins together. 

  • Early October was kindest to the Bandits so far, as they went 4-0-1-0 between Oct. 2 and 16, losing only to the Junior Bruins in OT on Oct. 11 in that stretch. 
  • After a tough 0-3 start to the year, ‘05 goalie Brendan Flanagan – a former 16U Kings teammate of Aidan Boyd – has been strong with a 2-0-1-0 streak back to Oct. 3. He has stopped 78 of 83 shots in those three games for a .939 save percentage in that stretch.
  • The Bandits are a big scoring-by-committee team, with 22 of 25 skaters registering points this season, but none with more than a point per game. Bryce McDonough leads the way with eight points in 12 games. 

The Road Ahead: Their game Wednesday against the Islanders carries the threat of the third-place Islanders leapfrogging the Bandits into second place, being one point behind as is the IHC. 

  • The Islanders hold a 13-7-0-0 series lead through 20 games since 2017-18.  Of course, we can’t forget that current IHC coach Jay Punsky is the former Bandits coach (2017-20). 


Northern Cyclones (2-1-0-0) 

After a couple games of posting just three goals total, the Cyclones recently got back to the business of producing their high-octane offense. After a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Junior Bruins on Oct. 16, the Cyclones responded with 6-4 and 7-2 wins this past weekend against the Bandits and New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, respectively.

Their 13 goals in two games is a season high matched by their final weekend of 2021-22, so this is really more the norm than the departure for Bill Weiand’s team. 

  • The Cyclones were tied after one period in both their recent games, showing that they are a sleeping giant. The Monarchs held them up at 1-1 after 20 minutes, and the Cyclones and Bandits were 2-2 after the first. 
  • Third-year Premier veteran defenseman Seth Orozco (‘02) registered his first career game-winning goal against the Bandits on Sunday. 
  • The Cyclones are another team with great depth but no absolute superstars – for now, give them time – as they’ve seen 23 of 26 skaters register points so far this season. Seventeen have multiple points. With a 1-7-8 line through six games, first-year Cyclone Scotty Swain (‘03) is your Cyclones leading scorer. 

The Road Ahead: Northern faces the Boston Advantage on Friday and the rival Islanders Hockey Club on Saturday, both at Cyclones Arena and both at 1 p.m. 

  • The Cyclones and Advantage, who joined the league in 2020-21, have only faced each other five times, the Cyclones taking four in regulation and Advantage taking one in OT. 
  • The Cyclones and Islanders are a whole different story with a very rich history. The Islanders hold an all-time 9-5-2-0 lead, but they’ve only been 2-2-1-0 against the Cyclones the last two seasons (the Cyclones going 3-2-0-0 in that time).  


Springfield Pics (2-2-0-0)

The Pics have been up-and-down the last 10 days, winning two straight against New Hampshire and the Islanders Hockey Club (in a shootout), before falling in two straight against the Bandits (4-1 on Oct. 21) and the Advantage (2-1 on Oct. 23). They’ve been just strong enough to remain above .500 by a hair at 5-4-0-1 and in the aforementioned tie for fifth in an historically tight division that sees seven teams separated by just four points. 

  • The Pics are one point better than the same point last year – they were 5-5-0-0 on Oct. 24, 2021. Their best record after 10 games was an 8-2-0-0 mark in 2019-20. 
  • Lifetime Pic Dominick Balboni (‘03) leads the team in scoring with 12 points through nine games. Balboni has played for the Pics in the USPHL 15U, USPHL 16U, USPHL Elite and, since 2020-21, the USPHL Premier. 

The Road Ahead: The Pics take on the South Shore Kings on Wednesday – see above for series score – and then they make their way to Maine for two against the Twin City Thunder on Thursday and Friday, the latter with a 9 a.m. puck drop. 

  • The Pics and Thunder have a brief history of just six games played, all won by Springfield (once last year in OT). They faced each other just once in each of 2019-20 – the Thunder’s inaugural season – and 2020-21. 


Boston Advantage (1-1-0-0) 

Two Sundays and two different results – but the same score. For the Advantage, they followed up a 2-1 defeat to the Bandits on Oct. 16 with a 2-1 win over the Pics on Oct. 23. 

  • The Advantage are going to have to try to get the offense clicking again. After a shutout loss in their opener, they averaged 3.75 goals per game their next four contests before producing just three in their last two. 
  • With a 3-6-9 line in seven games, Kodai Mizuno (‘03) is the only Advantage averaging at least a point per game over multiple games. 

The Road Ahead: The Cyclones and Advantage face off on Friday, at 1 p.m. The Cyclones have a 4-0-1-0 all-time series lead. 


Twin City Thunder (1-1-0-0) 

After a 3-2 shootout loss to the Junior Bruins, the Thunder bounced back on Sept. 24 with the same score to defeat the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and keep their lead at first place, albeit a slim one of just two points. 

  • At 6-4-1-1, they are far better after 12 games than at this point last year, when they were 3-7-1-1. They’re closer to the 7-5-0-0 mark they enjoyed in both 2019-20 and 2020-21. 
  • Returning defenseman Damon Bossie (‘04) just returned to the lineup and has a 1-4-5 line in his three games so far. 
  • Gavin DelFosse (‘03) remains the leading scorer with 12 points in 12 games, and is the sole player to average at least a point per game, as is the trend with the scoring-by-committee depth of the New England Division. 

The Road Ahead: The Pics come to Auburn, Maine, Thursday and Friday. 


Drop The Pucks!