By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
New England Division
Islanders Hockey Club (2) vs. Boston Junior Bruins (3)
All games at Gallant Arena
Game 1: Friday, March 10, 12:30 p.m. EST
Game 2: Saturday, March 11, 6:30 p.m. EST
Game 3: Sunday, March 12, 6:30 p.m. EST (if necessary)
The Islanders and Junior Bruins are all set to go, and although IHC may be the higher seed, they are the squad coming in with a chip on their shoulder. In five match-ups this season, the Islanders were only able to win their final showdown with the Junior Bruins.
“The Junior Bruins are a very good hockey team. They are well-coached and work very hard,” said Islanders Coach Jay Punsky. “We expect it to be a very fast paced [series] and look forward to the challenge.”
“We did well against IHC this season; however, in the most recent meeting, we threw away a lead late in the game. I do think that we have turned that into a good teaching moment, though,” said Hamilton. “You just can’t let your guard down at any point in these games. IHC will capitalize on mistakes as will any team still alive at this point. We need to take care of pucks, embrace simple plays with the puck, and frustrate them with disciplined hockey.”
The Islanders are coming in off a two-game series win over the Boston Advantage, first winning 3-2 in overtime and and then winning Game 2 by a 7-3 score.
“I thought we defended well as a five-man unit. That will be very important in the next round as the Bruins have a dynamic offense,” Punsky added. “Mass. College of Liberal Arts commit Christopher Gallagher was excellent in the series. He scored the OT GWG in Game 1 and added an assist in Game 2.”
The Junior Bruins went up against the Twin City Thunder, and also were able to win a two-game series, taking the games by a 4-1 score on March 3 and a 5-3 mark on March 5.
“I saw a lot of guys gain confidence as the series went on, which will be a factor in the next series. We need guys taking pride in every shift, every pass and every battle,” said Hamilton. “In Game 1, we took some shifts off against the Thunder and it hurt us. Once you take one shift off, it’s easy to take another one off then next thing you know you have handed a team the momentum.
“[In] Game 2, I thought we had effort in every shift but still had too many unforced turnovers in our own end,” Hamilton added. “This week in practice, we will learn to respect how hard it is to get the puck and to not hand it right back.”
Jake Terra, one of four Junior Bruins who left the series with three points in two games, drew praise from Hamilton for stepping up his game, along with a number of other players on the victorious first round squad.
“if [Terra] is moving his feet and all in then we are a much better team. Jeremy LaCroix has injected a lot of life into our team since he joined full time after Christmas. He is a player that, if he can control his emotions, then he can make multiple positive plays each and every shift,” Hamilton said. “Charlie Kerrigan is also a guy that has been such a big part of our success the past few months, a smart player who can make other players better with his compete level.”