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NCDC This Week: Advantage, P.A.L., Jr. Rangers Enjoy 2-0 Weekends

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 10/19/21, 10:15AM EDT

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Three NCDC teams went 2-0 over the weekend to either even their winning percentage at .500 (the Boston Advantage) or climb one game over that mark (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Connecticut Jr. Rangers). 

These were big confidence-building wins for the Advantage and the Jr. Rangers, both coming against teams in second place or at the top of their respective divisions. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend for the parity of the NCDC, as 11 of the 13 teams picked up at least one win in the space of the last week. 

The Rockets Hockey Club keeps nipping at the heels of the South Division-leading Utica Jr. Comets, standing undefeated in regulation over their last seven games at 5-0-1-1. 

 

Boston Advantage Rebound With Two Gems

The Advantage’s week started with a bit of a tough pill in the form of a 7-3 loss to the Twin City Thunder up in Maine. Back in action two days later, on Friday, the Advantage picked up their second shutout of the season, defeating the Northern Cyclones in their own barn, 7-0. Next up, on Saturday, they hosted the Islanders Hockey Club and won by a 4-1 score. Both of the Advantage’s two shutouts this year are against the Cyclones, whom they also defeated 4-0 on Oct. 1. 

• The Advantage have already tied their total shutouts from the 2020-21 season, with two shutouts both happening by Oct. 21. 

• This past weekend was the second time in their history when they gave up one combined goal in two games - they did the same on Oct. 21 and 22, a 4-0 shutout over the Islanders Hockey Club and a 2-1 win over the Twin City Thunder. 

• Connor Bradford (‘02) has been in net for all four of the Advantage’s shutouts in their two-year existence in the NCDC. He and Jacob Torgner (two shutouts for Philadelphia Hockey Club) are the only two active or past NCDC goaltenders to have the credit for 100 percent of their team’s shutouts. 

• The Advantage’s seven goals scored on Friday tied their record, set Jan. 7, 2021, against the Philadelphia Hockey Club in a 7-1 win. Seven goals is also the team’s record for largest margin of victory. 

Manny Sanchez (‘01) is enjoying an NCDC career-best five-game scoring streak with a 1-6-7 line during that time. Sanchez is playing in his second NCDC and fourth USPHL season.  

 

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Sweep Philadelphia, But PHC Takes Two Points

All was not lost for the Philadelphia Hockey Club in their weekend of taking a pair of losses to the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. Both games went beyond 60 minutes. The Jr. Islanders won the first game 1-0, and was back on neutral ice (Aviator Sports and Events Center) on Sunday to seal four points up with a shootout victory. 

• The Islanders extended their winning streak against Philadelphia to seven games. Philly won their first-ever match-up 8-4 on Nov. 2, 2020, but have taken five points against P.A.L. in all eight of their games so far. 

• The Jr. Islanders’ last 1-0 result came on Sept. 29, 2019, a game that also went to overtime. Out of four 1-0 results in their NCDC history, the more recent were the only two to end 0-0 after regulation. 

• 2003-born defenseman Jake Geraci, an NCDC rookie with two prior years at the USPHL 16U level, was the OT hero in Game 1 against Philadelphia. His OT goal was his second straight and second overall this year. 

• Another NCDC rookie, Cam Smith (‘02) earned the 36-save shutout against Philadelphia. With six appearances, Smith is tied for fifth in games played. He is also fifth league-wide in goals against average (2.40) and save percentage (.940).

Ryan Mahlmeister (‘01) has three points this season. This includes one game-winning goal and one game-winning assist. It does not, however, include his shootout game-winner on Sunday.

• For PHC’s Cody Blight (‘02), two of his three goals have tied a game at the point in which they were scored, including Sunday’s tying goal that sent the game to overtime and the shootout. 

 

Connecticut’s Sweep Of Rockets Hockey Club Also Gives Up Two Points

While the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Connecticut Jr. Rangers both earned four points, they also have another thing in common - their standings “gain” in the divisional matchups was two, as both games went beyond 60 minutes. On Friday, it was a 6-5 overtime victory, followed by a 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday. 

Despite giving up a couple points, getting the sweep was some sweet vengeance after the Rockets had taken the 2020-21 season series 5-1. 

• Friday, Oct. 15, marking Connecticut’s eighth game, was the latest for the Jr. Rangers to reach OT or a shootout in their five-year NCDC existence. They were not, however, the last this season to be pushed beyond regulation - the Boston Advantage have not yet ventured beyond 60 minutes. 

• Dean Rocco (‘02) picked the perfect time to sink his first NCDC goal, that standing up as the OT game-winner in Game 1 of the weekend. Adding an assist in the game also gave him his first career multi-point effort. 

Andrei Levushkin (‘01) scored two “regular" - i.e., non-shootout - goals this weekend to make him the Connecticut Jr. Rangers’ all-time leading NCDC goal-scorer with 34 regular season markers. He broke a record of 33 previously held by Colin Slyne (2017-19). With his shootout winner over the Rockets, he is now just one away from hitting double digits for his career in game-deciding goals. He has seven game-winning goals (one in overtime) and two shootout winners in his three-year NCDC career. 

 

Rockets Putting Together Hot Points Streak Despite Weekend Losses

Not since Oct. 2, a 4-2 defeat to the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, have the Rockets Hockey Club failed to earn at least a point in a game. They are 5-1-1-1 in the month of October so far, a big relief coming after an 0-3 start in September. It of course pales in comparison to their eight-game winning streak which they pushed from Jan. 31 to Feb. 12, but it does show flashes of the team that reached the Dineen Cup Finals. 

The Rangers and Rockets swapped situations this weekend. In the first game, the Rockets’ Evan Brown scored the final regulation goal at 13:17 to force the overtime eventually won by the Rangers. At about the same point in regulation on Saturday (12:39), the Rangers’ Bobby Barrasso scored the goal that left things even at the end of regulation. 

• Defenseman Evan Pahos (‘03), an Edina, Minn., native who’s lived in Colorado most of his recent years, is quietly on an active four-game scoring streak, in which he has strung together five assists. He assisted on fellow ‘03 Evan Brown’s game-tying goal on Friday and added two more helpers on Saturday. Pahos is tied for third in the league for points by defensemen with 10 through 11 contests, and is the only rookie blueliner with double digits in points so far. 

 

Kings Take Shutout Win, Points In All But Two October Games

South Shore made for bad hosts in defeating the Twin City Thunder by a 3-0 score on Friday. That win gave the Kings not only points in two straight games, but they have earned points in five of seven games so far this month. Only the Rockets Hockey Club (7-2 win on Oct. 3) and P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (2-1 win on Oct. 8) defeated the Kings in regulation. For the month, they are 4-2-1-0.

With their win over the Thunder, the Kings evened up their goal differential on the season, while simultaneously evening up their record at 4-4-1. 

Tristan Mecenas (‘02) was the shutout hero, making 24 saves for his first donut of his young NCDC career. He is 3-0-1-0 in October, and his only loss so far was in the entire NCDC season opener back on Sept. 23. 

• The three shutouts over the last week across the NCDC were the most in a seven-day period since a stretch of five over seven days in early February in Hub City Tampa. 

Timothy Heinke (‘01) has the third-most points in any active scoring streak, with 12 points (8-4) through the last seven games. He is third in points per game (1.56) and fourth in points (14). 

 

Around The Boards

• The Twin City Thunder’s 4-3 overtime win on Oct. 16 was a bounceback victory, after their loss to the South Shore Kings. Trace Norwell (‘02) posted the overtime game-winning goal with his first NCDC goal. It was the first time since Sept. 23, 2019 (Gonzalo Hagerman, now at Bowdoin College) that a Thunder player’s first NCDC goal was the deciding factor in an OT game. That was the Thunder’s fifth-ever game. 

• The Northern Cyclones won 10-3 against the Boston Junior Bruins just a day before taking their shutout loss to the Advantage. The Cyclones were the second team to hit double digits this year so far, and matched the amount of double digits in all of 2020-21. Paden Hicks (‘02) earned a hat trick in the big victory. It was the first hat trick by a Cyclone since Feb. 13, 2020, when current Air Force Academy player Will Gavin potted three. That was the team’s second hat trick after Bryce DeFazio (now at SUNY-Geneseo) also scored three on Nov. 16, 2019. 

• Utica and the Jersey Hitmen split their weekend series, a 6-2 Utica win preceding a 7-2 Hitmen victory. Utica’s win was the first time the franchise (also formerly known as the Syracuse Jr. Stars) defeated the Hitmen since a 5-3 Syracuse victory on Jan. 14, 2018. Saturday’s victory broke a 16-game Hitmen winning streak in the all-time series, including all games between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. The Hitmen still own a 21-2 series advantage, with two overtime victories within that. 

• Hitmen '01 forward Patriks Marcinkevics’ point streak passed the two points per game average mark over his last six games. He has 13 points (8-5) in that stretch of contests. His eight goals in five games is the league’s best goal-scoring streak. 

• Holy Cross commit Joe Solimine ('02) has not failed to miss the scoresheet this season - in all 10 of his games, he has a 5-12-17 line. The amount of games and points lead in both categories for NCDC streaks. He had two goals when the Junior Bruins defeated the Islanders Hockey Club, 6-4, in Sunday. 

 

Upcoming Action

South Shore Kings at New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Oct. 19:  The Jr. Monarchs hold a 7-2-0-1 record in the all-time series. These teams faced just once last year, in Florida, with the Kings standing victorious.

Twin City Thunder at Islanders Hockey Club, Oct. 22: The Thunder have won their last three straight meetings, two going to overtime. 

South Shore Kings at Northern Cyclones, Oct. 22: The Cyclones defeated the Kings 6-3 on Sept. 25, and the Kings won their only 2020-21 match-up 3-2 in a shootout on the second day of Hub City Tampa. 

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders at Utica Jr. Comets, Oct. 22-23: The Jr. Islanders and Jr. Comets split their 2020-21 season series with two wins apiece - with one of the Jr. Comets going to SO in Florida. 

Philadelphia Hockey Club vs. Rockets Hockey Club, Oct. 22-23: The home-and-home series begins in Bridgewater on Friday night. The Rockets have won all of their six meetings so far, all in regulation. 

Junior Bruins at New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Oct. 22: The Junior Bruins won their last two meetings of 2020-21, after an initial Monarchs victory almost exactly a year ago, Oct. 23. 

Connecticut Jr. Rangers vs. Jersey Hitmen, Oct. 23-24: Another South Division home-and-home series, these two teams are currently separated by just six-thousandths of a percentage point in winning percentage. Hitmen are at .556 with the Rangers at .550. 

Boston Advantage at Junior Bruins, Oct. 24: Both teams’ 2021-22 seasons began with a 5-3 Junior Bruins victory. The Advantage are looking for their first win in nine games against the Junior Bruins.

• Northern Cyclones at Twin City Thunder, Oct. 24: The Northern Cyclones won their most recent matchup, 3-1, on Oct. 11. 

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs at Boston Advantage, Oct. 25: The Monarchs have won two out of three, but all three of their meetings in 2020-21 went beyond 60 minutes.