#USPHLPlayoffs: Minnesota Squatch vs. Hudson Havoc

#USPHLPlayoffs: Minnesota Squatch vs. Hudson Havoc 


Midwest West Division 

Hudson Havoc (3) at Minnesota Squatch (2) 

All Games At Furniture And Things Community Center, Elk River, MN

Friday, March 8, 7:15 p.m. CST 

Saturday, March 9, 7:15 p.m. CST

Sunday, March 10, 7:15 p.m. CST (If Necessary) 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


In 2023, the first-year Minnesota Squatch won 29 games and finished with 63 points, but when late March came around, they had to watch the Nationals rather than live the Nationals. They watched as four teams that had finished with lower point totals made it out there, including the Minnesota Moose team that had defeated them in the second round of the playoffs. This year, there’s definitely an “unfinished business” vibe around Elk River. 

The Squatch certainly appear built like a Nationals team, with a menacing offense that finished with a 100-point scorer for a second straight season, and six players who averaged at least a point per game in 20 or more contests.

That said, the Hudson Havoc also certainly see themselves as part of the Nationals “in crowd,” having made the cut the past two years and they also qualified in 2020. The Havoc are more of a defensive stalwart, one that made the top 10 in fewest goals against yet again (after finishing first last year and third in 2022). So, when the two teams meet at center ice on Friday night in Elk River, Minn., it will be a very offense vs. defense type of showdown. 

This should be a fairly even series. We had a lot of scoring chances in the first round vs. Isanti, but their solid goaltending kept both games close,” said Squatch Owner/GM/Head Coach Chic Pojar. “If we continue to move the puck offensively, we’ll get scoring opportunities. Special teams will be critical. As long as we play disciplined and stay out of the box, I like our chances.”

During the season, the Havoc won the very even season series, 3-2-0-0. Havoc had the only back-to-back wins during the regular season to bookend December on Dec. 1 and 30. 

To get here, the Squatch defeated the No. 7 seed Isanti Outlaws, 4-3 and 6-3 to make the second round, which has a USPHL Nationals berth awaiting the winner. For the Havoc, they defeated Steele County two games to one (4-3, 2-4, 4-2) to make their own way to this stage. 

“As a group, we are excited to be moving on to the second round. Steele County was a formidable foe that pushed the first round series to three games. Nick Adamek and Wilson Anderle did a great job and we have a lot of respect for their team and organization. We were fortunate to come out on top,” said Havoc Head Coach Todd Sanden. 

“The Squatch present issues with the scoring depth of their team,” Sanden added. “For us to have any success, we will have to be mindful of attention to detail in limiting scoring chances for them. If we can limit their chances and execute on ours we have an opportunity to win.”

All season, the Squatch were powered by Jay Ellingson (34-67-101) as well as Cannon Bonifay (88 points). And all this was before the return of last year’s 103-point scorer Daniel Ellingson, and he chipped in 23 points in 10 games down the stretch after joining from the NCDC’s Ogden Mustangs. In the postseason, Bonifay ranked in the top 10 of scoring with six points in two games to lead the team offensively. 

Jay Ellingson was the team’s plus-minus leader at +49, Alec Bjork was the leader in faceoff wins (347, 52 percent), defenseman Jeb Gould led in hits with 45 and blueliner Thomas Wiesen had a team-leading 40 blocked shots. 

Trevor Roy went 15-3-0-0 in net to lead a trio that also included regulars Andrew Finneman and Avery Smith. Smith got the call for the two games against Isanti, stopping 58 of 64 for the victories. 

For the Havoc, much of the offensive story this year has been written by Evan Luxford (49 points) and Bryce Laager (37 points), but depth is truly their game – 35 different players have registered points for Hudson this year. Defenseman Gavin Jensen was the third-leading scorer this season with 30 points. Evan Luxford also ranked as the team’s plus-minus leader at +23 and fellow blueliner Ian Leiviska put his body in front of a team-leading 71 shots.

Showing their own offensive depth, Hudson’s Jack Marske and Zachary Johnson led the team in scoring against Steele County, with five points apiece, and Xavier Tholl had four points. 

Hudson’s Kaleb Bents finished third in save percentage league-wide at .937, and he came in eighth in GAA at 2.10 while racking up a 15-2-0-0 record. Versus the Outlaws, he stopped 36 of 38 in winning Game 3. Wes Johnson stopped 64 of 70 in going 1-1 for the first two games.