By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
New England Division
Northern Cyclones (1) vs. Bridgewater Bandits (5)
All games at Cyclones Arena
Game 1: Friday, March 10, 1 p.m. EST
Game 2: Saturday, March 11, 12:30 p.m. EST
Game 3: Sunday, March 11, 1 p.m. EST (if necessary)
The Northern Cyclones are hoping to add to their second straight New England Division championship by making a third straight trip to the USPHL Nationals. So far, only one team has gotten in their way of making the Nationals in this 2020s decade – the Bridgewater Bandits.
Known in 2020 as the Boston Bandits, they defeated the Cyclones in a 2-0 series. Unfortunately, the Bandits were stopped at that point, as the 2020 Nationals were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bandits Coach Scott Drevitch and his players are determined to get the full Nationals experience they were denied three years ago, just as Cyclones Coach Bill Weiand wants to stretch their Nationals streak to three – and hope third time’s the charm.
“The Cyclones have been the best team in our division – if not the league – all year,” said Drevitch about his opponents. “They have an experienced group and are deep at all positions. They are a very good hockey team.”
The Cyclones went 3-0-1-0 against the Bandits this year. Bridgewater won their OT game on Dec. 18, 4-3.
“They are a very hard team to play,” said Weiand, of the Bandits. “They have good depth, they are very well-coached, and have some key guys who can make an impact. Every game we played this year with them was a battle.”
The Cyclones, the No. 1 seed in the division (and the only Top 10 Premier team in the New England Division), are coming in off a 2-0 series victory over the South Shore Kings. The Kings nearly came back to tie their first game, but the Cyclones won 2-1. In Game 2, the Kings scored the first goal before the Cyclones responded with five unanswered first period goals en route to a 6-3 victory.
“I thought we competed very well – good first, second, and third efforts. We have to keep the game more simple,” added Weiand.
The Bandits pulled off a No. 5 over No. 4 upset of the host Springfield Pics last weekend, winning a pair of 3-2 games – including Game 2 in overtime. Christopher Soo-Robitaille scored the golden goal to end the series, and he also assisted on Jake Waterman’s regulation GWG in Game 1.
“Our series with the Pics was hard-fought. Both teams are built similarly and the series was extremely close. We always have close games with them,” said Drevitch. “I felt our team dealt well with being on the road and the adversity of situations during the games.”
Along with Soo-Robitaille, Drevitch was also happy with the play of several others.
“I felt our whole team stepped up to the challenge, led by some of our leaders [Saint Anselm recruit] Chris Cordiero, Bryce McDonough and Jake Waterman,” Drevitch added. “Our goalie Brandon Flanagan played well for us as is needed at this time of the year.”
Weiand was especially impressed with the play of Adam Skarda, Scotty Swain and Karl Frederiksson in the Kings series. Skarda had a pair of goals, including the Game 1 winner, while Swain scored four. He rang up a hat trick in Game 2, which included the GWG. Frederikssen posted three assists.