#USPHLPlayoffs: College Universel Gatineau vs. Springfield Pics 

New England Division

Springfield Pics (5) at College Universel Gatineau (4) 

All Games To Be Played At Olympia Ice Center, Springfield, MA

Higher-Seeded Gatineau Has Home Team Advantage For Last Change

Friday, March 1, 2024, 8 p.m. EST

Saturday, March 2, 6 p.m. EST

Sunday, March 3, 3:30 p.m. EST (If Necessary) 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


As part of the agreement with the USPHL when College Universel Gatineau joined the USPHL Premier in 2023-24, they would not play true home games in Gatineau, Que., and always travel for their 44 Premier regular season games. Next year, they will have the opportunity to host playoff games as part of a new all-Canadian Premier Division, but for now, they’re happy to be the de facto home team in their opponent’s home rink. 

College Universel Gatineau (22-20-1-1) just barely edged out the Springfield Pics for last change honors, earning 46 points to the Pics’ 44 (off a 21-21-2-0). Gatineau Head Coach Alexandre Gagnon is excited to really make a statement not just on behalf of College Universel, but on behalf of all the incoming Canadian teams. 

“Springfield is a tough team to play against, they are physical and play with a fast pace,” said Gagnon. “We are going to need to be at our best with the puck, have a high compete level and be disciplined at the same time. It’s definitely going to be a fun and hard series!”

“The team is excited to be playing at Olympia,” added the Pics, who have the unusual distinction of being the away team in their own building. “Universel is a very skilled team and we will need our best effort to move on the power play, which is very good so we will have to be very disciplined. We need to play fast and simple to give our team the best chance to move on. It’s playoff hockey so we have to control our emotions and be ready to go.” 

The Pics won the season series, 4-1. All the games were decided by between one and four goals – neither team ever really ran away with a game. Gatineau won on Oct. 29 to come out with a split weekend, and then the Pics won their next three in a row, most recently coming out on top 4-2 on Jan. 27. The two teams came out of the season nearly even in goals for, with Springfield scoring 149 and GAtineau scoring 145 on the season. 

In the current iteration of the USPHL Premier, the Pics’ leading scorers this year – Tyler Zembrzycki (71 points) and Dom Balboni (69) are also 1-2 in Pics Premier history, though in reverse order. Balboni posted 153 points in 143 regular season games and Zembrzycki had 99 points in 73 games. Also providing great depth for Springfield offensively are second-year Premier Pics Jack Tuite (46 points), Benjamin Adcock (39) and Chris Foster (33 points in 29 games). Another veteran forward Timmy Devine led the team in plus-minus (+6). Zembrzycki’s 280 faceoff wins were good for a 67 percent success rate, and defenseman Frederic D’Amour was tops in blocked shots (39).

Ben Zaranek was the main man in net for the Pics, going 10-8-1-0 with a .920 save percentage. Troy Huber posted a .927 mark in 16 games. 

For College Universel Gatineau, top offensive threats include a trio of 50-point scorers in Louis Ouellet (53 points) and Remi Dionne and Mathis Tarani (52 points apiece). Dionne was also the plus-minus leader at +19, Tarani won 383 faceoffs (57 percent) and registered a team-leading 47 hits, and defenseman Samuel Cardinal blocked 61 shots to lead the team. 

In net, Marcus Gomes played the majority of games and earned a 12-6-0-1 record with a .921 save percentage. Jean-Christophe Deslauriers played in 16 games and posted a .910 save percentage.