Records Indicate Games of Jan. 10-19. Statistics are as of Jan. 19.
By Patrick Ramsdale
Elmira Jr. Enforcers (4-0)
The Jr. Enforcers have been playing exceptionally well since January 10, producing a 4-0 record in that span. Elmira took down the Utica Jr. Comets on Jan. 11 in a 6-1 victory in which five different players found the back of the net. The Jr. Enforcers followed this up with a sweep over the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, 6-3, 6-2 (tennis, anyone?) . They were on the road just two days later and extended their winning streak to five games with a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Stampede. This includes having won the last game of the Northern Cyclones Showcase back on Jan. 9.
Elmira currently sits in sixth place in the Mid-Atlantic with a three-point lead over the Hershey Cubs. They are unable to reach the top four at this point, but they have an outside chance at fifth.
- With 25 points through 34 games, they are just one point off doubling up their points total from the same point last year (13). They’ve already bypassed last year’s final points total of 19. Their first season of 2020-21 – in which they went to Nationals – set a very high bar of 58 points in 44 games.
- The Jr. Enforcers have not outshot opponents very often this season, but when they have, they are undefeated in regulation (4-0-1-1).
- Rookie Nathan Garau (‘05/Boltano, Italy) recorded 15 points (9g-6a) in the last four games and is the league leader in goals with 43. He is on a six-game, 11-7-18 scoring streak overall.
- Garau is one of six players in the league with at least five hat tricks (Jake McAlpine, playing in the NCDC since December, leads with six). He registered two of those in the last week.
- Jamie Collins also has goals in his last four games and is on a 4-4-8 streak over his last six games.
- Cole Stevens is on a 4-0 winning streak in net, with a .932 save % going back to Jan. 8 at the showcase.
The Road Ahead: The Jr. Enforcers take their game up against the visiting defending National Champion Rockets Hockey Club this weekend. The Rockets have a 1-0-1-0 series lead this year so far and 7-2-2-0 all-time.
New York Aviators (3-0)
The Aviators continue to show why they’re in third place in the USPHL, outscoring their opponents 24-13 in the last three games. This type of dominance has been a trend all season as New York posts a league-best +122-goal differential (214 goals for vs. 92 goals against). It is a battle at the top of the division between New York and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
The Aviators led the Knights by eight points, though WBS has four games in hand. The upcoming weekend will prove to be a vital division matchup as New York hosts the Knights for a weekend series. See more in “The Road Ahead.”
- ’02 center Mathias Rakell (Stockholm, Swe) has produced points at an exceptional rate all season but has gotten bit a by a whole new scoring bug recently, finding the back of the net 11 times in the last five games. Rakell is second in the league in points this season with 84 in 33 games. He has 149 points in 81 games, having first played with the Aviators in 2020-21. He goes into this next weekend on an 11-7-18 scoring streak over his last six games.
- Rakell also became just the second player this season to reach 50 assists, one behind the league leader Daniel Ellingson (Minnesota Squatch).
- Other Aviators on hot scoring streaks include Christopher Wennerberg at 5-11-16 in six games; Markus Andrews at 1-9-10 in six games; Hunter Scanlon at 2-9-11 in six games; Max Granlund Wennerberg at 5-6-11 in four games; Connor Payne at 0-6-6 in four games;
- Since joining in November, goaltenders Blake Hazelton and Quinn Klaiber remain undefeated at 6-0 and 5-0, respectively.
- The Aviators are completely undefeated as the home team this season at 15-0. Only the Las Vegas Thunderbirds at 11-0 at home share in that honor.
- The Aviators have the third best penalty killing at 89.7 percent and they are tied for second in most shorthanded goals, with 12.
The Road Ahead: Five Mid-Atlantic teams have clinched playoff spots, but no one has clinched a particular seed yet. Watch for the Aviators and Knights to leave nothing on the table in trying to seal up the top spot. The Aviators have a healthy if not invincible eight-point lead on the second place Knights. The Aviators go in on a six-game winning streak, while the Knights haven’t lost in regulation in 19 games (18-0-1-0).
- The Knights have won both meetings this year and have not lost to the Aviators in regulation over these two seasons of their existence. WBS won a 9-8 track meet on Halloween 2022, one day after a 5-2 victory. They hold a total all time matchup record of 5-0-1-0.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (1-0)
The Knights just played one game over the last week that ended as a decisive victory over the Jersey Hitmen. Since the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase way way back in October, they have not lost in regulation and they are also enjoying an 18-0-1-0 streak. They put together 17 straight W’s between Oct. 15 and Jan. 7, before Utica defeated them 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 8. They still remain eight points back of the New York Aviators in their quest for the top spot, and they actually have four games in hand on the Aviators.
- The Knights are headed to New York for this big series, and they go in with the 69-team USPHL Premier’s only completely undefeated record as the away team (13-0-0-0).
- WBS goalies have been the league’s best in shootouts, stopping all nine of their attempts against them in the 1v1 challenge.
- The Knights have the second best penalty kill at 90.5 percent (10 power play goals against on 105 times shorthanded).
- They are top five in defense (2.10, fifth) and shots for (46.55, third).
- The Knights and the Ontario Jr. Reign are the only two teams with at least four wins when trailing after two periods (4-4-0-0 for the Knights).
- Aidan Darlington has the league’s second-longest points streak, which is tied for fourth overall on the season, at 18 games. He has 22 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in those 18 games back to Oct. 16.
- Justin Ryan put up 10 points in the first three games of 2023, and he’s on a seven-game, 6-10-16 scoring streak heading into Friday night.
- Ethan Zupanc, who had his second hat trick in their Jan. 7 win over Utica, has 3-8-11 in his last four games.
- The Knights’ Luke Remenyi and Fresno’s Ethan Jourden are the only two undefeated goalies with at least 10 wins, both at 13-0.
The Road Ahead: See the Aviators’ section above.
Utica Jr. Comets (2-1)
The Utica Jr. Comets have started the new year on the road and have not let that affect them. In the last three games, Utica produced a 2-1 record. After dropping a mid-week contest to the Jr. Enforcers, the Jr. Comets traveled to face the defending National Champions, the Rockets Hockey Club. Utica was able to come away with two very important wins as they took down RHC 3-1 on Saturday, and won a thrilling game in overtime, 6-5.
- Utica became the fifth Mid-Atlantic team to clinch their spot in the postseason. They trail the Connecticut Jr. Rangers by just three points with four games in hand, as they are pushing to secure home ice advantage down the stretch in a fierce battle for that last home ice spot.
- The Jr. Comets have found scoring from all throughout the lineup, with wingers J.D. Speer, Teito Ishigaki, and Sean Tyrie all scoring at over a point per game pace. A total of 29 Jr. Comets players have scored at least one point this season.
- Utica has the exact same amount of points they had after 27 games last year, at 34. They are 16-9-2-0 right now and were 16-9-1-1 a year ago after the same amount of contests.
- In more than half their games, the Jr. Comets have outshot their opponents and have done very well when doing so, going 12-2-1-0.
- Caleb Turner leads the Jr. Comets in the new year with seven points, part of an overall 5-6-11 scoring streak in his last seven games going back to Dec. 8.
The Road Ahead: The Jr. Comets are off from game action this weekend. They’ll return with two games on Jan. 27-28 at Hershey, and a home game Jan. 29 against Buffalo.
Hershey Cubs (1-1)
The team from Chocolatetown, USA continued to battle for playoff positioning as they traveled to Buffalo this past week. Five different Cubs found the back of the net in Hershey’s 5-3 win over the Stampede in the weekend opener. Despite a third-period push, the Cubs weren’t able to mount the comeback in Game 2, as they fell to Buffalo 6-5.
- Hershey continues to battle with Elmira for sixth place in the division, trailing by three points with four games in hand. The Cubs have a solid chance at earning at least sixth, while fifth and even fourth place are still mathematically within reach for a team with just 30 games played. That gives them four over Elmira, though they surrender three against fifth-place Utica, at 27 games played. Below them, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders now have a seven-point bridge (thanks in part to Elmira’s sweep this past weekend) to try to catch up to Hershey with eight games left to their season.
- Owen Dell and Ayden Frolik have proven to be a dynamic duo on the wings as they have combined for 66 points this season.
- Dell’s 13-game, 8-12-20 point streak is the Premier’s fourth-longest current point streak.
The Road Ahead: The Cubs take on the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in a pair of games Sunday and Monday. The Jr. Rangers are 15 points ahead of the Cubs, who have 28 points remaining to earn over their final 14 games. The math is available, now they just have to win. The Jr. Rangers did that in both of their prior meetings this year.
In Other Action
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers sealed up their playoff berth after defeating the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, 5-0, on Jan. 12, but then fell in their next two games to the Aviators and Rockets Hockey Club. The latter was a blow to the Jr. Rangers, who had been three points away from the Rockets’ third place spot, but are now five points behind going into this weekend – and only three points away from the Jr. Comets.
That 6-0 win for the Rockets Hockey Club was a huge bounceback after they had lost two to Utica on Jan. 14-15. As seen above, the Rockets are in Elmira this weekend for two against the Jr. Enforcers.
After winning their first game of the year against the Cubs, the P.A.L Jr. Islanders have struggled and are now in a precarious position at eighth place just one point ahead of ninth-place Buffalo in the jockeying for that last playoff spot. P.A.L. has just over a week of practice before going into the buzzsaw of a two-game weekend at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Jan. 27-28.
Life doesn’t get any easier for the Buffalo Stampede, either. After a pair of losses to Hershey and one to Elmira over the last 10 days, they now play host to the Great Lakes Division leaders the Toledo Cherokee, who took two decisive wins in their last two meetings. Even two points would be huge this weekend with P.A.L. standing idle in order to push into eighth place.
The Jersey Hitmen are not out of the playoff race, either, as they are just three points out of eighth place, though they are now idle from game action the next two weekends. They hit the ice against Utica Feb. 1-2 and Connecticut on Feb. 3.
New England Division
By Britt Hart
Boston Advantage (4-0-0)
Through the last 10 games, the Boston Advantage have proven they will be a force to be reckoned with, going 7-3-0-0, a strong showing as we approach the postseason. Despite falling to the defending USPHL Premier Champions in the New Jersey Rockets, the Advantage have won their last four games against the Bridgewater Bandits (twice), the Junior Bruins and the South Shore Kings on Jan. 19. Their 4-0 streak is the best in the New England Division right now.
With these eight points, the Advantage are now over .500 this season and are in current sole possession of fifth place in the New England Division at 32 points, one point ahead of the Bridgewater Bandits and two ahead of the Twin City Thunder, with 30 points overall in the standings.
The Advantage are also just three points back of the Springfield Pics, who hold fourth, which will be the final home ice spot in the playoffs.
- Players to watch out for from the Advantage include Kodai Mizuno, as he recorded a goal and three assists during Game 1 with the Bandits and a goal and an assist against the Junior Bruins, bringing his point total to 25 points in 27 games.
- Goaltender Nick Golis has been strong between the pipes as he earned the win in net for the first game against in Bandits in addition to the win against the Junior Bruins, bringing his season record to 8-6-1. He’s won three straight.
- Zach Sideropoulos, who joined this month, has a 3-4-7 line over his last four games. Aatu Moisanen, who had the GWG against the Bandits on Jan. 18, has a 3-2-5 active streak heading into their next action. Jaxson Roenick has a 1-3-4 streak going in four games.
- Benjamin Bernard is undefeated in his last four games, including both of his December appearances and two January appearances so far. Nov. 19 was his last defeat.
The Road Ahead: As the playoff push continues, the Advantage will need to stay hot as they have a busy remainder of the month with a total of five games. They will face off with the South Shore Kings, Northern Cyclones twice, Twin City Thunder and the Bandits yet again. Sitting in fifth place, it is key for the Advantage to earn as many points as they can if they wish to continue into the postseason.
- First up are the Cyclones twice First up is Sunday, kicking off at 11:30 a.m. Then, the Advantage kick off seven games in a row at Lovell Arena on Jan. 25 at 12 p.m. The Cyclones hold a 5-0-1-0 all-time record over the Advantage, and won their only meeting so far this season, 5-2.
Northern Cyclones (2-0-0)
In the midst of the Cyclones Showcase, the Northern Cyclones clinched a spot in the postseason as they remain the No. 1 team in the New England Division with 49 overall points in the standings. They are also No. 2 in the entire Premier Division in winning percentage at .875.
Despite coming off a loss to the Rockets that closed the showcase, the Cyclones were able to bounce back having strong showings against the Springfield Pics (5-2) and the Junior Bruins (3-1).
They are currently seven points ahead of the second place Islanders Hockey Club, with a pair of back-to-back games coming up against the Boston Advantage after a single game against their New Hampshire in-state rivals the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
- The Cyclones rank among the league’s best in defense – they are sixth in both goals against average (2.14) and shots against (26.39).
- In terms of forwards, Justin Tremblay produced for the Cyclones during both contests scoring two goals against the Pics and tallying one assist against the Junio Bruins. On the back end, defenseman Trevor Belak scored a goal and tallied one assist against the Pics and scored one additional goal against the Junior Bruins as well.
The Road Ahead: Similar to the Advantage, the Cyclones also have five games for the remainder of the month, including the Monarchs, the Advantage twice, Bandits and Kings. Excluding the loss to the Rockets, the Cyclones’ last loss came at the hands of the Bandits on Dec.18, so the upcoming rematch on Jan. 27 is one to circle on your calendars.
- The Cyclones have dominated the all-time series against the Jr. Monarchs, winning all three so far this year and not yielding any kind of a loss since an OT decision in 2019-20. Overall, they are 18-3-3-0 in the series.
- See above for their history against the Advantage.
Islanders Hockey Club (1-1-0-0)
Similar to the Cyclones, the Islanders have also clinched a spot in the postseason as they remain the No. 2 team in the New England Division with 42 overall in the standings. Since the Cyclones Showcase, the Islanders have played two games, a 5-1 victory over the South Shore Kings and a 4-1 loss to the Junior Bruins on Jan. 19. Unfortunately for IHC, that was their second loss to the Junior Bruins in as many weeks, which had the effect of the Junior Bruins pulling up to within one point of the Islanders, threatening their in-state rivals’ hold on second. Their final meeting of the season on Feb. 12 will be a great showdown.
- Playing clean continues to pay dividends for the Islanders, who have the fewest penalty minutes in the Premier league at just 7.77 per game.
- They’re happy to let others take the penalties, as the Islanders are No. 3 league-wide in power play percentage at 29.9 percent (29 goals on 97 opportunities).
- The Islanders stand at exactly 2.00 goals against, giving them the No. 4 best defense and just .14 ahead of the rival Cyclones.
- Both local area product Brady Carpenter (’02/Peabody, MA) and Trystan Swiger had two goals apiece against the Kings, bringing them to 32 points apiece on the season in 28 games.
- Goaltender Ean Badgett is fourth in the league in save percentage at .941 and sixth in goals against average at 1.79.
- Fellow goaltender Jared Treat is 5-0 going back to Nov. 19 at the IHC Showcase.
The Road Ahead: The remainder of the month is sparse in terms of games as the Islanders will take on just the Springfield Pics this Sunday and New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Jan. 31.
- Sunday sees the Islanders heading west to Springfield for their game at 3:30 p.m. The Pics hold a short 2-1 lead in the season series, but the IHC hold the all-time lead of 14-4-1-2.
Springfield Pics (1-1)
The Pics have yet to clinch their spot in the postseason but sit just four points behind the Junior Bruins in the standings after splitting their most recent pair of games against the Cyclones and Kings. They are close! After falling to the Cyclones, 5-2, the Pics had a high scoring affair defeating the Kings 6-4.
- During their win, the Pics had six different goal-scorers including Luc Fricchione, who also tallied a goal and assist during both sets of games. He is on a 2-8-10 run in each of his last five games. With the depth of the Pics lineup, it will be interesting to see who prevails in terms of scoring as we reach the push for #RoadToNationals.
- The Pics are one of just six completely undefeated teams when tied after two periods. They have broken deadlocks in their favor five times, tied for third best in the league.
- Recent Fitchburg State University (NCAA Division III) commit Jacob Trowt has posted a 6-12-18 scoring streak over his last 10 games back to Dec. 3.
- Ben Zaranek is undefeated in regulation in his last four games, at 3-0-0-1 back to Dec. 10, with 141 saves on 151 shots for a .934 save percentage in that span.
The Road Ahead: The Pics have an identical schedule to the Islanders by only having three games to close out the month, and all within the next week. They face Bridgewater on Saturday, the Islanders on Sunday and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs next Wednesday.
- The Bandits hold a 17-7-1-2 all-time record against the Pics, including a 2-1 advantage this year.
- See above for the Pics’ history with the Islanders.
- The Monarchs are 7-3-1-0 all-time against the Pics, but it’s Springfield that holds the 2-0 lead this year
Bridgewater Bandits (1-1-1-0)
The Bandits had their first action since Dec. 21, 2022, when they took on the Boston Advantage on Jan. 11, an 8-5 win for the Advantage. Bridgewater quickly regrouped and got a comfortable 7-1 win over the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Friday the 13th. However, the Advantage were right back on the schedule this past Wednesday, and came away with a 3-2 overtime victory.
In the grand scheme, the Bandits are more than likely safe for a playoff spot, as the Monarchs’ 16-point bridge to eighth place is a tough one to cross. The Bandits, at 31 points, are four points out of a home playoff spot, a position currently held by the Springfield Pics. The Bandits are also just a point out of fifth place, where the Advantage have 32 points. Anyone can go on a run and shuffle the deck at least between fourth and seventh, though every actual seed in the New England division is mathematically still up for grabs.
- The Bandits love hitting the road – they have more than double their home wins when they are the away team. As a road crew, they are 10-5-1-0, vs. 4-6-2-0 in Bridgewater. Two of their next three games against teams ahead of them are road games.
- Goaltender Luke Merian is undefeated in his last four games in regulation, going 3-0-0-1. He’s made exactly 30 saves in three of these last four games.
The Road Ahead: The Bandits head to Springfield on Saturday for a 6 p.m. game, followed by a Sunday afternoon trip to the New England Sports Center to face the Boston Junior Bruins. After a couple days of rest from games, it’s right back to action on Wednesday against regional rivals the South Shore Kings.
- See above for their history with the Pics.
- The Bandits have gone 1-0-1 against the Junior Bruins so far this year, and they are 2-0-1 against the Kings.
In Other Action
The Boston Junior Bruins took a 6-4 loss to the red-hot Advantage and a 3-1 loss to the Cyclones before bouncing back against the Islanders with a 4-1 victory. They are just one point back of the Islanders and eight back of the division-leading Cyclones. They are also six points ahead of the fourth-place Pics. Up and coming for the Junior Bruins is their Sunday home game against the Bandits, against whom they are 1-1 this year.
The Twin City Thunder were off last week after going 2-2 at the Northern Cyclones Showcase. They get back to action at Hooksett, N.H., against the Jr. Monarchs on Tuesday. The Thunder, in seventh with 30 points, are still just five points away from the fourth-place Pics.
The eighth-place South Shore Kings were one of the busiest teams, second only to the Advantage for games since Jan. 10. They defeated the Monarchs, 5-2, on Jan. 11, before falling to the Pics (6-4), Islanders (5-1) and Advantage (7-2) between Jan. 15 and 19. They just have to maintain a hold on eighth position with a 16-point lead over the ninth-place Monarchs in order to secure a playoff position. On Wednesday, they’ll face the Bandits and try to help themselves in their playoff cause.
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs have a busy stretch upcoming between Jan. 21-25, facing the Cyclones, Thunder and Pics. Even with 15 games remaining, they still have a huge mountain to climb to get into the playoff conversation.
Drop The Pucks!
Additional Reporting On All Divisions By Joshua Boyd / USPHL