Islanders Hockey Club (2) vs. Boston Advantage (7)
All games at Islanders Hockey Club
Friday, March 3, 10:20 a.m. EST
Saturday, March 4, 6 p.m. EST
Sunday, March 5, 6 p.m. EST (if necessary)
The Islanders are set to face a strong Boston Advantage team coming up to Gallant Arena on the campus of Merrimack College on Friday morning to start a best-of-three series. The Islanders are hoping to make their fourth straight Nationals qualification this postseason, while the Advantage would love to pull off the upset and move through the New England playoffs towards a spot in Utica, N.Y., between March 23-28.
Advantage Head Coach Ean Mendeszoon is confident in his team’s skill set, as they have weapons at every position.
“Team strengths would be our skill, compete [level] and the consistent goaltending that we’ve had all year,” said Mendeszoon.
Nick Golis and Benjamin Bernard together have combined for a team .912 save percentage, along with 21 wins. Bernard played 20 games and Golis made 23 appearances. Three other goalies also played a combined four games, and adding their performances puts the team at .913. “Our goalies have made the saves we need to be a strong team and our depth up front has allowed us to possess and control the play when we bring our work ethic to the table.”
Scoring depth saw 33 different players register at least a point for the Advantage this year, led by Kodai Mizuno’s 40 points in 43 games. Defenseman Yahor Ramanau led New England Division blueliners with 37 points in 39 games.
“They are a very good team,” said Islanders head coach Jay Punsky. “It will be a tough match-up.”
Over on the Islanders Hockey Club side, IHC vied all season for a spot at the top of the division, finishing just five points short of their regional rivals the Northern Cyclones.
“The IHC Premier is a very structured, smart and consistent group. They always have strong goalies and defensemen that keep the game simple and make it hard to play against. The only way we beat them is if we make it difficult on their defense and don’t cheat the game,” Mendeszoon added. “They don’t give you much offensively and you always need to execute your chances and opportunities in front of the net against them. The IHC are coached well and we will need to bring our best, and then some, to beat them in this series.”
The Islanders won all four games against the Advantage this year, though the latter took a point from an OT loss on Oct. 5, 2022.
The Islanders are one of the Premier’s cleanest teams, clocking in at just 8.91 penalty minutes per game. And they make teams pay when their opposition goes into the box. With 44 goals on 122 power plays, their 36.1 percent success rate was a Premier Conference best in 2022-23.
IHC comes into the series off posting the fourth best defense in the league – tied with the Cyclones – at just 2.05 goals allowed per game.
Worcester State (NCAA) recruit Brady Carpenter led the way in scoring with 45 points and Trystan Swiger posted 44. It could be a big goaltending duel, however, as IHC’s Ean Badgett ranked in the league top 10 in both goals against average (2.00) and save percentage (.935).