Most of the teams from the Mid-Atlantic and New England Divisions congregated this past weekend at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase in Tyngsboro and North Andover, Mass. Only three New England teams came out of the event with positive records (two of those getting the sweep) while the New York Aviators also went 4-0 to lead a group of three Mid-Atlantic squads coming out with .500 or better records.
One other Mid-Atlantic squad, the Hershey Cubs, instead went west to the USPHL Detroit Showcase and fared very well there with a 3-1-0-0 showcase record. Here, we’ll dive into the teams that performed best coming out of the last seven days.
Northern Cyclones (4-0)
Four games in a row here are a great look together with eight more wins prior, giving the Cyclones a run of 12-0, second best in the league only to the undefeated first-year Vernal Oilers (15-0 since their first game).
The team started Friday with a 5-2 win against the Utica Jr. Comets, followed by an early Saturday 9-2 victory against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and a 3-2 shootout win over the Jr. Rangers. The Cyclones defeated the South Shore Kings by a 3-1 score on Sunday.
- The Cyclones have now equaled their all-time best winning streak, tying the run of 12 victories between Jan. 24-Feb. 16, 2020. Their best run of 2021-22 was nine victories.
- Prior to the IHC Showcase, the Cyclones were first in winning percentage but tied for second in points in the New England Division. Not so anymore. They are first in the division at .938 and 30 points, two points ahead of the Islanders Hockey Club.
- At 15-1-0-0, the Cyclones have the second best winning percentage in the league at .938, and they are one of only three in the league above .900, joining the Utah Outliers (19-1-0-1, .929) and the undefeated 1.000 Vernal Oilers.
- The Cyclones are an expert come-from-behind team – they’ve only scored the first goal in 10 of their 16 games. They are 4-0 when trailing after one period and 1-0 when trailing after two periods. Their only loss, to the Boston Junior Bruins (3-1 on Oct. 16), saw them tied after two periods, a situation in which they are 3-1 on the season.
- The Cyclones are absolutely difficult to get past – they are third best in shots against per game at just 24.06 per game.
- Goalie Jeffrey Fillion improved to 8-1-0-0 on the season after his wins against Utica and South Shore. He is tied with several other goalies for eighth in wins and he is also eighth in goals against average at 1.77.
- Max Abramson has quietly put together a five-game scoring streak, the Cyclones’ longest, at 1-5-6. Garrett Conner had a strong last couple games at the IHC Showcase, posting a season-best 2-1-3 on Saturday against P.A.L. and added two more assists Sunday against the Kings.
- South Shore was the first team in seven games not only to keep Simon Rulc off the scoresheet, but to keep him from scoring in multiples. He previously had a six-game multi-point scoring streak of 8-9-17. He leads the team with 23 points in 15 games.
The Road Ahead: The IHC Showcase closed November action for the Cyclones. They get back to action against the team that is just two points behind them, the Islanders Hockey Club. The Cyclones beat the Islanders 5-4 in OT on Oct. 29, and they are one win away from evening their all-time record against the IHC. The current mark for Northern is 8-9-0-0.
Islanders Hockey Club (4-0)
The Islanders gave themselves a schedule which featured two top five teams from the Mid-Atlantic Division. No matter, as all four of their opponents gave up either six or seven goals in the IHC’s best four-game offensive showing this season. Their 25 goals over the course of the showcase beat the 24 goals they put up from Games 2-5 of the season between Sept. 30 and Oct. 12.
Game 1 of the showcase saw a 6-1 victory against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, followed by a 6-0 early Saturday win against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and then a later Saturday 6-1 victory against the Elmira Jr. Enforcers. It all ended on Sunday afternoon with a 7-1 win against the Utica Jr. Comets.
- The IHC Showcase run was the first time the Islanders posted at least six goals in each of four straight games since the Hub City Tampa event, when they produced 30 goals in four games between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4 (part of a string of five straight games with six or more goals).
- With a 13-3-1-1 record, the Islanders are in the top 15 of the Premier Conference in both points (28, five-way tie for 14th) and winning percentage (.778, three-way tie for 13th).
- Playing clean has been a big help for the Islanders. They only spend an average of 7.61 minutes per game in the box, second only to the South Shore Kings at 6.35.
- Longtime IHC veteran Jesper Seeberg put up a 7-5-12 line in the four showcase games, more than doubling the points he had going into the event. The run also pushed Seeberg’s career total to 63 points in 60 games and his career points per game average over 1.00. Since the 2017 inception of the current Premier Conference, within Islanders history, Seeberg ranks fifth in goals and assists (28 and 35, respectively) and he is fourth in points at 63. His points per game is ninth all-time as well.
The Road Ahead: The Islanders actually have two games before their Dec. 4 match-up with the Cyclones. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, they go to Bridgewater to face the Bandits and then they’re facing the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Dec. 2.
- On Oct. 26, the IHC defeated the Bandits 6-1, a win that doubled up the Islanders’ wins against their losses in the all-time series, going 14-7-0-0 against the Bandits since 2017.
Springfield Pics (2-1-0-0)
The Pics played three games at the showcase, one per day, and their only loss was a close 1-0 defeat to the New York Aviators. That was a moral victory of sorts, considering the Aviators average six goals per game, ranking sixth in the Premier in that category. W’s in the standings came against the Elmira Jr. Enforcers (3-2) and the Twin City Thunder (6-3). The four points didn’t push them out of fourth place, though they did move within one point of the idle Boston Junior Bruins.
- The Pics scored all six of their goals against the Thunder in the second period, their most ever in 20 minutes or less (they played 17-minute periods at the showcase). They also scored six in the second 25-minute half of a 2018 USPHL Winter Showcase game against P.A.L.
- Leading scorer and three-year Pic Dominick Balboni saw a five-game scoring streak ended by the Aviators’ shutout. He put up a 5-4-9 line going back to Nov. 6 and leads the team and the New England Division overall with 26 points (12-14-26) through 15 games.
The Road Ahead: The Pics take the holiday break and will get back to business on Saturday, Dec. 3 against the Junior Bruins, a team that went into its extended break after the prior weekend on a 10-0 winning streak. The Junior Bruins beat the Pics 4-2 on Nov. 6 in their only meeting so far this year. The Pics also face the Boston Advantage on Dec. 4.
New York Aviators (4-0)
The Aviators are proud winners of 10 in a row, and they’re unbeaten in regulation in their last 11 back to Halloween. As usual, the Aviators are clicking at a frightening pace, offensively, averaging six goals per game (ranked fifth in the USPHL Premier). In the showcase, they defeated the Bridgewater Bandits 5-0 then took down the Twin City Thunder on Saturday, 6-5. They ended with two slightly more modest offensive showings of 2-1 against the Boston Advantage later on Saturday and 1-0 against the Springfield Pics.
- The 10-game winning streak is one better than their best run of 2021-22, but they have a long way to go to match their all-time best of 17 straight W’s between Oct. 25, 2018 and Jan. 6, 2019. The next season they also won 16 straight (Jan. 6-Feb. 14, 2020).
- One-goal wins aren’t the norm for the Aviators, but they have three on the season – their first was the season opener, a 3-2 OT win against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers on Oct. 12. They are 3-1-1-0 in one-goal decisions this year.
- Their 6.00 goals for average is right in line with three of their last four seasons – 2021-22 (5.66), 2019-20 (5.97) and 2018-19 (5.80). It’s Aviator hockey!
- The last two games and their quieter offensive showings ended a number of big scoring streaks for Aviator players. Mathias Rakell’s streak ended Friday at eight games and a jaw-dropping 27 points (all but one of those games in the streak were multi-point efforts). His 25 assists rank in a tie for ninth league-wide.
- Defenseman Hunter Scanlon saw his streak snapped Saturday at nine games and 18 points.
- Newcomer Hugo Haggstrom ended up as the only Aviator with points in all four showcase games, putting up a 3-2-5 line for the weekend, a still-active streak he’ll carry into December.
The Road Ahead: The Aviators come back to a pair of games against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders on Friday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 4, sandwiching a Saturday game against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. The Aviators have won all of their 14 meetings against P.A.L. going back to 2017-18. They are 11-3-1-0 all-time against the Jr. Rangers, including the aforementioned season-opening OT win.
Hershey Cubs (3-1-0-0)
When many other Mid-Atlantic teams went north and east to the Islanders event, the Cubs turned west to Detroit for the USPHL Detroit Showcase. They fared very well there and exited the Friday to Monday event with a 3-1-0-0 record. They started Saturday with a 7-1 victory against the Chicago Crush, then defeated the Motor City Gamblers 6-5 in overtime. Their Sunday ended with a 4-1 win over the Battle Creek Kernels, but they were kept away from 4-0 territory by the Steele County Blades who won 5-2 on Monday, Nov. 21.
- The Cubs’ 3-1 record in Detroit was their best at a four-game showcase event since their inaugural season in 2021-22. Their previous best was a 1-2-0-1 mark from their very first event, the 2021 Rockets Hockey Club Showcase.
- Their first three games of the showcase gave the Cubs their first three-game winning streak of the season and in their two-year history.
- Alternate Captain, two-year Cubs veteran and leading scorer Owen Dell scored a goal in each of the four games, his first goal-scoring streak of four games (or even three). He also added three assists for a 4-3-7 active scoring streak to leave the showcase. That helped him bypass the 21 points he scored in 2021-22, as he now has 22 points.
- Ayden Frolik scored two of his team’s three game-winners at the event, including the OT goal against Motor City. He has three game-winning goals to lead Hershey. His 14 goals are also tops on the team.
The Road Ahead: The Cubs come back from the break with a trip to Elmira, N.Y., for a pair against the Jr. Enforcers. Hershey has an all-time series lead of 4-1-0-1, including a weekend sweep on Oct. 7-8 that included an OT win.
Connecticut Jr. Rangers (2-1-0-1)
The Jr. Rangers started out well enough, putting together a 5-1 victory to open the showcase weekend against the Boston Advantage. In their very next game, however, the powerful Islanders Hockey Club put a 6-0 shutout on the Jr. Rangers. They went into the shootout in an attempt to end the Northern Cyclones’ long winning streak, but the Northern squad came out with the 3-2 victory in the end. For good measure, and to exit November’s action on the right foot, the Jr. Rangers beat the Twin City Thunder, 4-2.
- With five points over the four games, the Jr. Rangers pulled ahead of the WBS Knights in the Mid-Atlantic points race into first place with 31 points (14-5-2-1) versus the Knights’ 28 – WBS hasn’t played since Nov. 6 and will resume action on Dec. 3.
- The Jr. Rangers have crossed the 30-point mark for the first time since they posted a 44-point season in 2019-20, going 21-21-1-1 that year. Since the inception of the current Premier Conference in 2017, they have never had as many as 30 points to close November. In the three seasons in which they reached at least 30 points, they attained that mark on Feb. 20, 2018, Jan. 30, 2019 and Jan. 6, 2020.
The Road Ahead: After the Thanksgiving break, the Rangers get back to action on Saturday, Dec. 3, against the New York Aviators. The Rangers are hoping for their first victory against the Brooklyn boys since the 2020-21 season.
P.A.L. Islanders (2-2-0-0)
The Jr. Islanders strung together wins for the first time this season with impressive outings at the IHC Showcase against the Twin City Thunder on Saturday night and then the South Shore Kings on Sunday, with 5-2 and 3-2 victories to close the event. The start of the event did not go nearly as well, as they took tough losses to the iron of the New England Division, falling to the host Islanders Hockey Club and then the Northern Cyclones.
- The 2-2-0-0 run at the 2022 IHC Showcase was their best showcase performance since … the 2021 IHC Showcase, where they went 3-1, which included a three-game winning streak and a 2-0 win over the host Islanders to close their successful stand.
- Ellis O’Dowd became the first Jr. Islander to register a hat trick, putting in three against the Thunder on Saturday night. It was the first P.A.L. hat trick since current NCDC Jr. Islander Dino Mannetta scored three against Hershey on Feb. 22, four games from the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
- Like the team, goalie Quillon Bowman strung two wins together for the first time this year. He stopped 44 of 48 shots in his two appearances for a .917 save percentage.
The Road Ahead: It’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, then back to game action. The Jr. Islanders play host to the Elmira Jr. Enforcers this weekend. The Jr. Islanders won all three of their games in 2021-22, and lost their single meeting of 2020-21 in overtime.
Drop The Pucks!