By Britt Hart and Patrick Ramsdale
The Northern Cyclones Showcase begins on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 6, and it marks the return to game action for many of the top teams between New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. Most eyes will be on the hosts themselves at the USPHL Premier level, as the Cyclones hold the second best winning percentage in the 69-team league, at .932 off of a 20-1-1-0 record. Learn a little more about the Cyclones and other top four teams from the New England and Mid-Atlantic Divisions, and see what each team in both divisions is up to this weekend.
(Order is 2022-23 Winning Percentage)
The New England Division leaders will be hosting the Cyclones Showcase this weekend, coming off a December in which they went 5-0-1, towards an 20-1-1 overall record. They remain undefeated in regulation through 18 games with a 17-0-1-0 record, the league’s longest point streak.
- The Cyclones win with a clean game. At 9.45 penalty minutes per game, they are one of just five teams league-wide averaging below 10 minutes.
- The team is top 10 in both goals against (2.04, sixth) and fewest shots on goal against per game (26.50).
- Recently, some of the top performers for the Cyclones include Players Of The Month Justin Tremblay and Seth Orozco, as well as Connor Crawford and Adam Skarada, both of whom had eight points in 6 games last month.
- It is also worth noting netminder Jeffrey Fillion went 3-0-0 to wrap up 2022 with a total of 108 shots and 102 saves.
The Road Ahead: At the Cyclones Showcase, the hosts will face the Buffalo Stampede, New York Aviators, Islanders Hockey Club and Rockets Hockey Club.
- The Cyclones and Islanders are no strangers to one another as they have faced off three times so far this season, the Cyclones coming away victorious in all. The Cyclones are 10-9-0-0 all-time against their regional rivals the IHC.
- As for the other 3 teams, this will be their first meeting of the season. With the Aviators sitting in first place in the Mid-Atlantic division and the Rockets Hockey Club being the defending USPHL Premier National Champions, the Cyclones are in for a challenging and exciting weekend.
- Pay special attention to the Cyclones’ showdown with the Aviators. Both teams entered the event in the top five overall of USPHL Premier winning percentage, the Cyclones in second and the Aviators at fifth. The Cyclones hold a 5-2-1-0 all-time series record against the Aviators in the regular season.
- On Monday afternoon, the Cyclones face the Rockets Hockey Club, the defending National Champions who won the title at Cyclones Arena this past March. The Cyclones hold a 4-1-0-0 record all-time against the Rockets, though two of those wins were in OT.
- The Cyclones have faced the Stampede franchise twice, once as the Buffalo Thunder (8-1 Cyclones win in 2019-20) and once as the Niagara Falls Thunder (6-0 Cyclones win in 2018-19).
Islanders Hockey Club
Sitting in second place in the New England Division, the Islanders are coming off a December in which they went 3-2-0, towards a 17-5-1-1 overall record. In their last 10 games, the Islanders have an impressive 8-2-0 record, the only losses coming at the hands of the Cyclones.
- At 8.21 penalty minutes per game, the Islanders are second in the league in that category. They are more than happy to let the opposition take a seat in the sin bin, as they have the league’s second best power play. They have registered 28 goals in 79 games for a 35.4 success rate.
- Two players who have stood out on the scoresheet for the Islanders include Nathan Isoniemi, who tallied four points last month, and Jack Roberts who tallied three points in their most recent contest dating back to Dec. 16 against the South Shore Kings.
The Road Ahead: The Islanders will be heading just up the road to Hudson, N.H. as they will be taking part inof the Cyclones Showcase, where they are scheduled to face off with the Buffalo Stampede, Northern Cyclones, Rockets Hockey Club and Boston Junior Bruins.
- Being in the same division as the Cyclones and Jr Bruins, the Islanders know what to expect when playing these teams. They currently have a record this year of of 0-2-1 against the Cyclones and a record of 1-1-0 against the Junior Bruins this season and 13-5-3-0 all-time.
- When it comes to the Stampede and Rockets, these will be their first meetings of the season. Keep an eye out for the Islanders and Rockets game as both teams sit amongst the top 4 teams in their respective divisions and should be statistically a tight-fought game. The Rockets have met just twice before, in 2019-20 (when the Rockets won) and 2017-18 (an Islanders win).
Boston Junior Bruins
Standing in third place in the New England Division, the Junior Bruins are coming off a December in which they went 5-3-0, towards an 16-6-0-1 overall record. In the month of December, the Junior Bruins played the most games out of any team within the New England Division, with five games being played at their home venue of the New England Sports Center.
- The Junior Bruins are tied for second in the league in most points earned beyond regulation, and they are undefeated this season in overtime at 4-0. They are 1-1 in shootouts for a total of 11 points earned beyond 60 minutes. Only the Fort Wayne Spacemen, with 12 points, have more.
- Junior Bruins goaltender Dominik Bovan was recently named Player of the Month after posting a 3-2-0 record for the Junior Bruins along with 176 saves on 187 shots. Other top performers include ’03 forward Jake Terra, who tallied 11 points in the last eight games, and ’02 forward Devin Oliver, who tallied 10 points in the last eight games.
The Road Ahead: The Junior Bruins will also be making the trip up to Hudson, N.H., as they will face off with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Elmira Jr. Enforcers, New York Aviators and Islanders Hockey Club at the Cyclones Showcase.
- The Monarchs hold a lead in their all-time series with the Junior Bruins of 12-5-2-0.
- The Junior Bruins won their only prior game against the Junior Enforcers, a 4-0 victory at the 2021 Fall Beantown Classic.
- The Aviators hold a slim 3-2-0-0 all time series lead on the Junior Bruins, though the latter team won both their most recent meetings in the 2020-21 season, including one game at Hub City Tampa.
- The Islanders hold an all-time series lead of 12-6-3-0 against the Junior Bruins. With the Junior Bruins sitting just three points behind the Islanders in the standings, the results from this showcase are crucial when determining the playoff seeding for the #RoadToNationals.
Rounding out the top four teams in the New England Division, the Springfield Pics ended the calendar year with a monthly record of 4-2-0-1, towards a 15-10-0-1 overall record. With this record, the Pics are in a tight battle for third place in the division as they sit just two points behind the Junior Bruins.
- The Pics are one of just four teams in the Premier to have not given up a shorthanded goal this year (in 103 times shorthanded), joining the Chicago Crush, Bakersfield Roughnecks and MJDP.
- Recently, forward Dominick Balboni and defenseman Luc Fricchione were both named December Players of the Month after their outstanding monthly efforts. It is also worth noting that ’02 forward Jacob Trowt tallied 12 points in the last seven games, one of which was the game-winning goal in the Pics’ most recent contest with the Twin City Thunder.
The Road Ahead: The Pics will start off the New Year with six games in January, including a home-heavy schedule as five games will be played at their home venue of the Olympia Ice Center. The 4th place team will face off with the South Shore Kings twice, Cyclones, Bandits, Islanders and Monarchs. With a division-only schedule, this month will be critical for the Pics when determining their seeding as we head down the home stretch towards the #RoadToNationals. The Kings will return to showcase action at the South Shore Kings Presidents Day Showcase.
- The Pics will face the Kings on Monday at 1 p.m. and they hold an all-time series lead of 12-10-0-0.
In Other Action
The Bridgewater Bandits are the second-hottest team in the New England Division, sitting on a 6-0-0-0 winning streak, sweeping their entire December schedule to move into fifth place and they are just three points behind the Springfield Pics. Eyes will be on the New England Premier playoff race as it is always tight every year. The Bandits have proven they can beat the powers that be, as they ended the Cyclones’ 16-0 winning streak by pinning a 4-3 OT loss on that squad on Dec. 18. They have also beaten the Boston Junior Bruins and the Springfield Pics. The Islanders Hockey Club is another story, as the IHC has a 2-0 season record against Bridgewater so far.
The Road Ahead: The Bandits, another team that will close its showcase schedule for 2022-23 in Foxboro in February, get back into action for their first 2023 game on Wednesday, Jan. 11, against the Boston Advantage.
The Twin City Thunder went 4-4-0-0 in December, and are 11-15-2-2 overall. They lost their .500 record in their final four games of 2022, so they are hoping to use the Northern Cyclones Showcase to climb back to the even mark. Their schedule features the Elmira Jr. Enforcers, New York Aviators, Rockets Hockey Club and Buffalo Stampede.
Another team that went .500 in December were the Boston Advantage, who stand in seventh at 10-12-2-0, with 22 points (four behind the Thunder). They are coming into the Cyclones Showcase for just a pair of games on Saturday against the Elmira Jr. Enforcers and Rockets Hockey Club. They resume divisional play Wednesday against the Bridgewater Bandits.
The South Shore Kings struggled in December, unable to earn a win in the final month of 2022. Preparing to host their own showcase in February, they’re going to be back in action on Monday at Springfield and then Wednesday in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs ended 2022 on a winning note, defeating South Shore 7-4. They have a mountain to climb, but it’s not out of the question for them to reach the playoffs if they can crack the top eight by the end of February. The building blocks begin at the Cyclones Showcase, where they’ll face the Boston Junior Bruins, Elmira Jr. Enforcers, Buffalo Stampede and New York Aviators.
New York Aviators
The Aviators head to Hudson for the Northern Cyclones Showcase this weekend. New York posts a .865 winning percent entering 2023, with a 22-3-1 record. The Aviators are one of just three Premier teams who have already clinched their spot in the playoffs (in divisions where not all teams qualify).
- The Aviators are tied for second in the USPHL in goals for with 173, scoring an average of 6.65 goals per game.
- New York is the home team twice at the Cyclones Showcase, where they’ll defend their undefeated 11-0-0-0 record with the last change.
- They have one of the best penalty kills in the league, clicking at 90 percent, giving up just 10 goals on 100 times shorthanded. They’ve scored more than they’ve given up, as they share the league lead in shorthanded goals with the Minnesota Squatch at 12 apiece.
- Center Mathias Rakell leads the USPHL in assists (43) and is sixth in the league in points
- Defensemen Hunter Scanlon currently ranks third in points among blueliners with 44.
The Road Ahead: New York begins their weekend with a marquee matchup against the host
Northern Cyclones, who enter the weekend with a record of 20-1-1. The Cyclones hold an all-time advantage of 5-2-1-0. Two top five teams clash on Saturday afternoon – do not miss this game!
The Aviators will also face the Twin City Thunder, Junior Bruins, and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
- The Aviators have met the Thunder four times, going 3-1-0-0 so far. The Thunder won their only game in the series at Hub City Tampa in 2021, while the Aviators defeated Twin City 5-3 earlier this season at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase.
- The Aviators are 3-2-0-0 all-time against the Boston Junior Bruins, though the Junior Bruins won the two most recent games at Hub City Tampa.
- The Monarchs and Aviators have each won two games in their all-time regular season series, with one Monarchs win coming in OT giving the Aviators a one-point advantage at 2-1-1-0. The Aviators also defeated the Monarchs in round robin play at the 2019 Nationals.
The Knights have clinched their spot in the playoffs with a record of 22-4 going into the weekend. Wilkes-Barre enters the weekend on a 16-game winning streak. They are just one point behind the Aviators, so they’ll definitely be watching what happens up north while remaining home to face the Utica Jr. Comets in a two-game series. With 44 points, the WBS Knights are also 10th in the league, and their winning percentage of .846 places them sixth overall in the USPHL Premier.
- The Knights lead the Mid-Atlantic Division in goals allowed and rank seventh in the league with just 56 goals allowed (2.15 per game).
- The Knights have done well at home, with an 11-4-0-0 team, but they’re even better on the road. They are tied for the league lead with a 13-0-0-0 record as the away team.
- Knights goaltenders have been the best league-wide in shootouts, stopping all six attempts against them. The team hopes their shooters can improve upon their 1-for-6 average.
- Hunter Parker has led the way for Wilkes-Barre with 51 points and ranks fifth in the league in assists with 39, helping to earn him a Mid-Atlantic Forward of the Month honor.
- Goaltender Luke Remenyi remains perfect this season, posting an 11-0 record with .935 save percentage and a 1.68 GAA. He was named as the Mid-Atlantic Goaltender of the Month.
The Road Ahead: The Knights will take on the Utica Jr. Comets at home this weekend as they look to remain perfect against Utica.
- The Knights won their first two games ever played against Utica on Dec. 7-8, 2022. Those games were played at the Nexus Center, host site of the 2023 USPHL Premier and Elite Nationals, to which the Knights certainly have designs on returning.
Rockets Hockey Club
The Rockets Hockey Club will travel to New Hampshire for the Northern Cyclones Showcase this weekend. RHC sits fourth in the Mid-Atlantic standings with a 14-6-2-1 record, which places them just two points behind the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. They have the higher winning percentage, however, at .674 to the Rangers’ .611, with four games in hand in the stretch drive.
The Rockets entered 2023 off the back of a huge win, ending the New York Aviators’ 19-game win streak on Dec. 18 in a 6-1 victory. That came two days after a similar result against the Jr. Rangers, further helping the Rockets close the gap in the points race.
Jack Quigley leads the team is points with 35 (16g-19a) and is currently on a six-game
point streak in which he’s recorded 13 points.
The Road Ahead: RHC will face the Boston Advantage, Twin City Thunder, Islanders Hockey
Club and Northern Cyclones at Cyclones Arena this weekend.
Utica Jr. Comets
At 13-7-2-0 for 28 points and a .636 winning percentage, the Jr. Comets place fourth in percentage but are fifth in points. With just 22 games played, the Jr. Comets have half a season left and more games in hand on their divisional opponents than anyone, though the Rockets Hockey Club are only one ahead. The Jr. Comets played just four games in December, falling in two to the WBS Knights but beating the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in two games. Their 14 goals scored that Dec. 17-18 weekend tied their most in a two-game weekend series with two other occasions this season, showing the Jr. Comets can whip up the offense.
- The Jr. Comets have the division’s best power play, scoring 22 times with the man-advantage (77 opportunities) for a 28.6 success rate.
- Offensively, the Jr. Comets are fronted by a power trio of J.D. Speer (34 points), Sean Tyrie (32) and Teito Ishagaki (31).
The Road Ahead: The Jr. Comets will try to get some redemption when they travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this weekend after taking their only two losses of December.
In Other Action
Starting with a single Sunday game this weekend against the Hershey Cubs, the month of January will just have to be better for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, who picked up just one win in December. They are still standing in third place with 33 points, but the defending National Champion Rockets Hockey Club are close behind their backs and hungry to move up the charts. It’s a long way for both teams to challenge for first or second in the division, held by the New York Aviators (45 points) and WBS Knights (44), but both the Jr. Rangers and Rockets can certainly at least try to button up home ice advantage down the stretch.
- The Jr. Rangers and Rockets Hockey Club are third in the league in fewest penalty minutes, averaging 9.26 per game.
The Road Ahead: The Jr. Rangers and Hershey Cubs, playing Sunday at Hersheypark Arena, have only met once before – an 8-2 win for Connecticut also in Hershey.
The Hershey Cubs split December down the middle, winning two and losing two against each of the Elmira Jr. Enforcers and the Buffalo Stampede. Although 9-16-0-0 overall, they have performed much better in their last 10 (5-5-0-0). They’ll continue to try to nail down a playoff spot, with a climb into the top four still mathematically possible but it will be a tough challenge. The Road Ahead: The Cubs take on the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders this weekend on Friday and Saturday and then face Connecticut on Sunday.
The Elmira Jr. Enforcers’ last showcase event for the season will be at the Northern Cyclones Showcase. Their schedule includes the Twin City Thunder, the Boston Advantage, the Boston Junior Bruins and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. At 15 points, they are just three points back of the Hershey Cubs with the possibility of moving into sixth, and they certainly want to hold off the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders just two points back.
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders are hitting the road to face the Hershey Cubs on Friday and Saturday. They played through a tough December, being unable to pick up a win, but they are not far off of either the seventh place Elmira Jr. Enforcers or the sixth-place Hershey Cubs.
The Buffalo Stampede, sitting with 10 points and three back of the eighth and final playoff position, are joining many of their divisional mates in going to the Northern Cyclones Showcase. They finished 2022 on the high of defeating Hershey on the road. In New Hampshire, they will face the host Cyclones, along with the Islanders Hockey Club, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and the Twin City Thunder.
The Jersey Hitmen are also on the road but in Florida, and they, too, are within striking distance of eighth place. The Hitmen will face the Fort Wayne Spacemen, the Tampa Bay Juniors, the Palm Beach Typhoon and the Metro Jets Development Program at the USPHL Tampa Showcase.
Drop The Pucks!
Additional reporting by Joshua Boyd.