#USPHLNationals Premier Team Preview: Islanders Hockey Club 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


The Islanders Hockey Club have become a Nationals regular, qualifying for their fifth year in a row after playing all or parts of 15 periods of hockey to get there. 

They played in just four games, but their series victory against the South Shore Kings came after a double-overtime goal to win in two games. They also won Game 1 against the first-year College Universel Gatineau in overtime, en route to another 2-0 series sweep.

“We felt that we had a strong series against Gatineau,” said Punsky. “They’re a very fast and gifted offensive team and we did a good job limiting their time and space. How we compete and how we defend at Nationals will be very important to our success. All the teams at the event have a lot of fire power.”

The Islanders, on the other hand, are typically more balanced in terms of offense and defense. IHC takes a very systematic approach, which is important in a very strong New England Division each year. 

“When the team did their goal-setting exercise at the beginning of the season they set qualifying for Nationals as one of their long-term goals. We’re excited that we’ve qualified again and we have high expectations,” said Punsky. “As a club it’s our goal to develop each player and place them at the highest level possible. Playing on the national stage provides another opportunity for our players to be seen by college scouts.”

He certainly is working to make sure the players put their best foot forward for the dozens of NCAA and other college scouts expected to be in attendance.  

“[In practice], we are focusing on refining the details of our game,” Punsky added. 

They played in four very different games, including wins of 3-1, 3-2 (OT), 5-4 (2OT) and 4-0. That ability to hang in regardless of the circumstances can only help. They were down at different times of both overtime games – including 3-1 and 4-2 deficits against Gatineau – so they have shown an ability to overcome adversity. 

During the regular season, the Islanders went 4-6-1-0 against other Nationals opponents, including a 1-2-0-1 mark against the New England Division’s No. 1 seed and Nationals host the Utica Jr. Comets. They also played four times against the No. 1 overall seed in the league, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and went 1-2-1-0. 

They were one of only three teams to defeat Connecticut, who went 41-3. They also got a point from CJR in overtime, and their three points vs. the Jr. Rangers represent one-quarter of all the points opponents earned all year against Connecticut. 

IHC defeated Potomac, 2-1, in overtime in Game 4 of their season at the BJB Shootout, taking two of only 14 points that Potomac surrendered to opponents all year. The Islanders defeated MJDP, 3-0, and fell to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 3-1. 

“We know there won’t be any easy opponents. Each team is capable of winning it all,” said Punsky. “The toughest part about an event like this is staying mentally sharp and physically fit enough to execute at the level necessary to win six games in six days.” 

Defenseman James Eyre led the team in scoring through four games of the postseason with seven points, while Dylan Reynolds (six points) and Jack Roberts (five points). Julius Andrekus stopped 72 of 76 shots against in the series against Gatineau, including a 31-save series-clinching shutout in Game 2.