#USPHLPlayoffs: Connecticut Jr. Rangers vs. Rockets Hockey Club

Atlantic Division 

Rockets Hockey Club (6) at Connecticut Jr. Rangers (1)

All Games To Be Played At Chelsea Piers North, Stamford, CT

Friday, March 8, 6 p.m. EST

Saturday, March 9, 12 p.m. EST

Sunday, March 10, Time TBD (If Necessary)


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


The Connecticut Jr. Rangers had a lot of fun in 2023-24. They set the all-time record for longest win streak in the regular season, winning their last 30 games in a row. They finished 41-3-0-0 for a total of 82 points and a league-best .932 save percentage that earned them their first USPHL Premier league-wide regular season championship. 

The Jr. Rangers featured three 100-point scorers including the all-time leader in points by a defenseman in Hunter Scanlon and a forward in Yakov Yakzhin whose career point total of 231 points passed the previous record-holder, before he finished second historically to Fresno’s Noak Persson, with 240. Connecticut outscored opponents at an average of 7.65-2.42. Now, they are at the point where anything short of a National Championship will make all of that a moot point. 

The Rockets Hockey Club, an organization that won the 2022 Premier National Championship, stands in the Jr. Rangers’ way and would like to pull off a massive upset in the second round. They’ve already won a 3v6 series as the sixth seed, upsetting the Hershey Cubs and ending their season in two games. 

“The series against Hershey was another big step for this group. We’ve earned the opportunity to compete for a spot at Nationals which has been our goal from Day 1,” said Morrow. “We are going to prepare this week to give ourselves the best chance for success on the weekend. Facing the statistically strongest team in the history of the USPHL presents an unreal opportunity that our group is grateful for.” 

In his first year as Head Coach in Connecticut coming off a stellar run with the former New York Aviators (now Brooklyn Aviators), Mike Stanaway took the Jr. Rangers from a fifth-place finish in the Atlantic last year to the top spot out of 61 teams that competed in the Premier this year. They swept the No. 8 seed Brooklyn Aviators in two decisive wins last weekend to set up the showdown with the Rockets, with the winner advancing to USPHL Nationals in Utica, N.Y., March 21-26. 

“I was happy with the first round of playoffs for our team. We were able to get everyone involved so we should be very sharp for Round 2,” said Stanaway. “Our staff has been in this position many times throughout the years, so we know exactly what’s on the line and what to expect. The Rockets are a much-improved team that works hard. We are a much different team from the last time they played us but we need to be completely dialed in for this series.”

The Rangers won all four of their games against the Rockets, with the closest being a 7-6 OT victory on Dec. 14.  

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. 

The Aviators series saw Max Tanskanen lead the Jr. Rangers with eight points in two games. Four more players had five points in either one or two games. Teddy Ecker and Adrian Lamp both had shutouts. 

On the Rockets side, they also bring four players with at least one point per game in the regular season. The team was led by Jake Gusavitch’s 42 points in 41 games. A pair of very impressive ‘05’s was right behind him in Jackson Machon (36 points in 35 games) and defenseman Rocco Tavernese (35 points in 31 games). 

Gusavitch also led in the Cubs series with a 2-2-4 line in two games. Massimiliano Scotto-di-Carlo was second with three points. 

In net, the Rockets had a 1-2 punch with Steven Reganato and Ryan Rhodes. Rhodes played 23 games and won 10 (and registered a .911 save percentage) and Reganato played 21 games and put up nine wins. Rhodes went 2-0 making 71 saves on 73 shots for a .973 save percentage.