#USPHLPlayoffs Preview: Connecticut Jr. Rangers vs. Brooklyn Aviators 

All Games At Chelsea Piers, Stamford, Conn. 

Friday, March 1, 11:30 a.m. EST

Saturday, March 2, 4 p.m. EST

Sunday, March 3, Time TBD (If Necessary) 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com


The important thing to keep in mind once every playoff season begins is that every team is back to 0-0, and the Brooklyn Aviators have fully bought into the clean slate mindset as they go against the Atlantic Division’s No. 1 team, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. The Rangers have been a powerhouse from first meeting of blade and ice this season. They have aboard the league’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen (Hunter Scanlon), and a forward in Yakov Yakzhin who has more career points than the all-time leading scorer coming into this season. Bring it on, said Aviators Head Coach Mike Cosentino. 

“We are looking forward to our opportunity to compete in the playoffs,” said Cosentino. “Connecticut is obviously a very good team. Our intentions are to give our absolute best effort and leave nothing on the table. Our players have worked extremely hard this year, and despite our lack of success in the win column, there’s not a group of young men I’d rather go into battle with in the playoffs than them. We are looking forward to the matchup very much.” 

Connecticut has amassed a league-leading 80 points through Feb. 27 and they have a chance to nail down the No. 1 overall seed in all the USPHL Premier Conference in their final game against the Jersey Hitmen, after going 40-3-0-0 so far. Head Coach Mike Stanaway, who joined the Rangers this season out of the former New York Aviators program, has given the Rangers a huge jolt in his first year behind the bench with the Red, White and Blue Rangers. 

“We are very excited that the playoffs are here. Our team is not going to take anything for granted,” said Stanaway. “We know that we are going to get everyone’s best effort each game. It is important that we are able to control our composure and to raise our level of play.”

The Rangers amassed the third-most goals scored this year (329), so offensively, they are obviously an immense force to deal with. They defeated the Aviators by double digits in each of their four regular season games. Scanlon nears the end of his regular season as the only defenseman among the top 10 in league scoring, after becoming the first defenseman to ever clear the 100-point mark with 104 after 43 games. Joona Juntunen (110 points) and Yakzhin (107 points) round out the top three for a Jr. Rangers team that was the only squad with three 100-point scorers. Yakzhin also led the Jr. Rangers in plus-minus with a +80 for the season. Scanlon led in blocked shots with 46. 

Jace Bodnar, a three-year Premier veteran, was acquired by Brooklyn from the Ontario Jr. Reign earlier this season and completed his season with a career high 22 points. He was followed one point back by first-year ‘05 Joseph Namyotov – a local area product from Staten Island – with 21 points in 37 games. Second-year blueliner Bradyn Neuendorfer put his body in front of 96 shots this year, to lead the Aviators in blocks.