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The Breakdown: USPHL Premier

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 10/28/21, 9:30AM EDT

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Week of Oct. 28, 2021

With the big and successful USPHL Detroit Showcase just having wrapped up last week, just two weeks removed from a massive event - really multiple events - in New Jersey, that out-of-body high-speed train feeling continues as two more major USPHL Showcase Series that include the USPHL Premier close out the end of October.

In Blaine, Minnesota, the Midwest West Division and guest Pueblo Bulls from the Mountain hit the ice for the Midwest Showcase from Thursday to Sunday. Also kicking off Thursday is the Fall Beantown Classic at New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Mass., as well as additional area venues, and that closes out on Monday, Nov. 1. 

We’ll look at the top teams of the moment entering those events, as well as all the other hot teams from across the massive Premier footprint to let you know which teams to keep an eye on as Halloween weekend settles its dark clutches over the land. 

 

New England Division 

Who’s Hot: The South Shore Kings’ 7-0 run has helped them jump into a tie for the points lead in the nine-team northeastern-most division. Their .889 mark is No. 1 in the division and the best percentage for any team with the unfortunate occurrence of suffering a loss. They have just one in their 8-1-0-0 overall record. 

  • The Kings will have their first-ever matchups with the Elmira Jr. Enforcers and Hershey Cubs at the Fall Beantown Classic. 

  • They will also face a Connecticut Jr. Rangers Premier team against whom they currently have a 3-0 all-time series record. 

  • Depth is the name of the game for the Kings. All but three of their 23 skaters who have played at least one game have scored points in their first nine games. 

  • Max Macchioni leads all USPHL Premier goaltenders in wins (7). 

 

Additionally, the Islanders Hockey Club are on a 2-0 run after starting the season with a defeat. At three games, they have the fewest games played of any USPHL Premier team, but they will work to catch up at the Fall Beantown Classic. 

  • On Thursday, the Premier schedule for the Fall Beantown Classic begins with a rematch of an Oct. 6 game in which the Islanders’ season started with a 2-1 loss to the Kings.

  • After facing the Kings, the Islanders draw Connecticut, the Utica Jr. Comets and their first-ever meeting with Hershey. 

 

The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs have points in their last two, allowing them to leapfrog Twin City and jump into a tie for fifth in points. 

  • The Monarchs are one of the few New England Division teams not hitting the Beantown. They will host the Bridgewater Bandits and Boston Advantage on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. The Bandits defeated the Monarchs 5-3 earlier this season, and the Advantage and Monarchs will have their first-ever Premier meeting. 

 

In this busy division, the Northern Cyclones, Springfield Pics and Junior Bruins have also won their most recent games. 

  • The Cyclones start their Fall Beantown Classic run with their second straight game against the Boston Advantage, whom they defeated 8-2 on Saturday. They also face Connecticut, Elmira and Utica. 

  • Cyclones leading scorer Jackson Tillinghast is on an amazing six-game scoring streak in which he has posted five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. 

  • Cyclones defenseman Hunter Meyer has the third-most assists in a current streak with 10, part of a 1-10-11 run in six games. 

  • The Pics have just one weekend game, a home game in which Twin City Thunder comes in to avenge a 5-1 Pics win in Auburn, Maine, last weekend. 

  • The Junior Bruins are another Fall Beantown Classic team. They draw Connecticut, Elmira, Hershey and Utica in that order between Friday and Monday. 

  • Impressive Elias Holunga (‘03) had the Junior Bruins’ first hat trick of the season in their most recent win, a 6-5 defeat of the Cyclones. 

 

Atlantic West Division

Who’s Hot: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights remain one of the four completely undefeated teams (in regulation or beyond) in today’s USPHL Premier. Over the last week, they had a 3-0 win over Philadelphia Hockey Club and then a 5-1 win against the Elmira Jr. Enforcers. 

  • Home to start this weekend, they bring in the Buffalo Stampede (Thursday), then play the Rockets Hockey Club Saturday and Sunday, the latter in Bridgewater, N.J. The first-year Knights have a 2-0 season series lead over Buffalo, and they have never faced the Rockets. 

  • Only one point separates the top three scorers for the Knights, with ‘02’s Colin Anna and Teague Porter (15 points apiece) and Hunter Parker (14) delivering a 1-2-3 punch. 

 

The Hershey Cubs’ sweep of Buffalo at Hersheypark Arena, which gave them their first-ever wins at home, make them the only other Atlantic West team to have won their last game. 

  • As seen above, the Cubs are part of the Fall Beantown Classic in Marlborough, Mass. Between Saturday and Monday, they’ll face New England Division opponents the Boston Advantage, Boston Junior Bruins, Islanders Hockey Club and South Shore Kings, all for the first time ever. 

 

Atlantic East Division

Who’s Hot: There is a great possibility that both the 10-0 Rockets Hockey Club and currently 11-0 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights will meet in a “Battle of the Undefeateds” on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre. Tune in at 5:15 p.m. on HockeyTV if you can’t get there yourself.  

  • With his fourth goal in a 4-0 win against the Jersey Hitmen, Michael Stevens kept himself among the top 10 best point streaks in the USPHL Premier. In his last eight games, he has a 6-8-14 line. 

  • The Rockets are one of five teams that have multiple goaltenders with at least one shutout this year. Rodney Hanson and Matthew Morrison (vs. the Hitmen) have blankings. 

 

The Jersey Whalers have been impressive as well with four straight wins, Going back to a 4-3 overtime win on the final day of the Midwest Showcase portion of the Hitmen Classic, on Oct. 10, the Whalers are unbeaten. This includes their last two wins against the same Philadelphia Hockey Club team that they will face again on Thursday. They also face the Connecticut Jr. Rangers next Wednesday. 

  • Whalers goalie Dmitrii Kapranov is one of 13 goalies league-wide with at least five wins. 

 

Philadelphia defeated the New York Aviators between their last two meetings with the Whalers, so along with their OT loss to Jersey, they have a two-game point streak. 

  • After they face the Whalers for the third time in their last four games, they will have a nine-day break. 

 

The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders were excited to get a win to close out a split weekend with the Utica Jr. Comets. They are in the midst of a two-week break from games until they face the Jersey Whalers on Nov. 6. 

 

Midwest West Division 

Who’s Hot: The Minnesota Blue Ox are hottest with a 7-0 run. Like the South Shore Kings, their recent winning streak pushed them into a current tie for first place with the Minnesota Moose - both teams have identical 7-2 records. They get four Midwest Showcase games - all at the Moose’s home Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minn. - to try to gain some real estate in the division. 

  • Visiting the Moose’s barn, the Blue Ox will face the Rum River Mallards, Pueblo Bulls, Dells Ducks and Hudson Havoc. 

  • Their most recent win was a 3-2 defeat of the Havoc on Oct. 24, so expect the Wisconsinites to be seeking revenge. 

  • The Blue Ox had two decisive victories against the Ducks on Oct. 16-17. 

  • This is the first Mallards-Blue Ox meeting of the new season. The Blue Ox are 9-4-0-0 all-time against the Mallards. 

  • Cale Goenner has the fifth-most goals (10) during an active goal-scoring streak, as he holds a 10-1-11 line in his last seven consecutive games. 

 

The Minnesota Mullets have won their last three games, two against the Dells Ducks and an OT win against Rum River, all part of a four-game home stand. 

  • They are right up against the Ducks for a third straight time on Thursday. The Mullets hold a six-game winning streak in their all-time series. 

  • From there, the Mullets go up against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, Minnesota Moose and Rum River Mallards. 

  • The Riverkings won their Oct. 14-15 series, including their single game on Oct. 14 at Mariucci Arena. 

  • The Moose beat the Mullets 5-2 twice consecutively, on Sept. 24 and Oct. 8. The Moose are on an eight-game winning streak against the Mullets, with the first of those eight (the 2020-21 season opener on Sept. 25, 2020 at Fogerty Ice Arena) going to overtime.

  • The Mullets and Mallards last met on Oct. 16, resulting in a 4-3 overtime win for the Mullets. 

  • The Mullets’ Jack Seamans has a six-game scoring streak going on, posting a 4-8-12 line going back to Oct. 9. 

 

The Minnesota Moose and Steele County Blades have each won their last games. 

  • The host Moose face the Riverkings, the Steele County Blades, the Mullets and the Pueblo Bulls. 

  • The Riverkings and Moose just split an Oct. 23-24 series and they’ll meet for a third straight time. The Moose have never lost any of their 22 games with Steele County, though the last couple have been decided by one goal, including a 5-4 shootout win on Oct. 17. The Moose and Bulls will have their first-ever victory. 

  • As for the Blades, they go up against the Havoc, the Ducks, the Moose and the Pueblo Bulls. They have defeated the Havoc in a shootout (3-2), and they have an eight-game winning streak against the Ducks going back to the start of the 2019-20 season - the Ducks last won Sept. 21, 2019. The Bulls and Blades face each other for the first time. 

 

Pacific Division 

Who’s Hot: After a 12-day break from games, the undefeated 9-0 Lake Tahoe Lakers get back into action when the Fresno Monsters (on a 6-0 run of their own) come to town from Friday through Sunday. 

  • The Lakers have only faced three teams so far, so this will be their first time ever going up against the Monsters. 

  • The Lakers have three of the four most currently productive players, in terms of active scoring streaks. Jett Arminen has an active 18-22-40 line in nine games, while defenseman Luke Stevens (13-13-26) is also on a nine-game run. Ari Rossi has 23 points in his last eight games (6-17-23). 

  • Goaltender Arley Cutler (5-0) is one of five Premier goalies who are still undefeated after at least five games. 

 

Fresno will bring their current hot run up against the Lakers, with forward Leon Biller standing with the third-best goal-scoring streak in the league. He has eight goals in his last five games. 

 

The Las Vegas Thunderbirds have won their last two contests, including an 8-4 win over an Ontario Jr. Reign team that had defeated them one night earlier by the same score. 

  • On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the T-Birds bring in the Long Beach Shredders. The Thursday game takes place at City National Arena (practice home of the Vegas Golden Knights) and Friday and Saturday at Lifeguard Arena. 

  • Heath Mensch has scored points in every game since Oct. 9, posting an average of 4.00 per game with 20 points - good for fifth among active streak-holders - in these last five contests. 



 

The San Diego Sabers bounced back from an overtime loss to Long Beach to win the next night, for a three-point weekend against the first-year Shredders. They are now off until Nov. 5 when the Lakers come to Carlsbad for a three-game set.  

 

Mountain Division

Who’s Hot: The Utah Outliers are certainly living up to their name here, as they are ahead of the pack with points in their last six (5-0-1). Like a few other teams, their recent run has put them into a tie for first in their division. They are currently tied in points with the Ogden Mustangs, but they have passed the Pueblo Bulls on their way up after a sweep including a shootout win. 

  • It’s right back to Colorado again this week, as they travel to the Greely Ice Haus to face the Northern Colorado Eagles, who are on their own 4-0 winning streak, steadily rising back from a 1-4 start. 

  • The Outliers beat Northern Colorado 4-1 earlier this season, giving them a slight 5-4 lead in their all-time series. 

  • Utah’s Garrett Alderman is enjoying a 4-0 record in net so far this year, especially after a 38-save performance to cap the sweep last weekend. 

 

The Provo Riverblades pulled off a big upset win last weekend, winning 6-5 in overtime against the first place Ogden Mustangs. 

  • This Ogden vs. Provo matchup continues with a Friday-Saturday home-and-home set. 

  • Ogden had beaten Provo earlier on Oct. 2, 5-0, and the Mustangs hold a 6-2-2-1 all-time series lead against the Riverblades. 

  • Ogden’s Lukas Washco has a four-game assist streak going, in which he has seve helpers, along with one goal for eight points. 

  • Provo’s Kyle Muhr has four goals in his last three games. 

 

Great Lakes Division

Who’s Hot: After facing four Midwest East opponents at the Detroit Showcase, and having eight divisional games prior to that, still no one has an answer for the Metro Jets. At 12-0, they are in first place overall in points for the Premier. 

  • The Jets remain at the showcase site, their home Mount Clemens Ice Arena, as the Wooster Oilers and Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones both pay visits.

  • The Jets have already collected decisive victories against both, including in their first-ever game against Cincinnati just prior to the showcase on Oct. 17.

  • The Jets have won all 12 of their USPHL games with the Oilers, with two going to OT during the 2018-19 seasons (the Oilers were dormant in 2019-20, ahead of a change in ownership). 

  • The Jets’ Alex Schaumberger has the third-most productive points streak, as he has picked up 12 goals and 13 assists in his last 12 games, for 25 total points. 

  • Defenseman Braydin Lewis has points in his last six, collecting a 3-12-15 line in that period. 

  • The Jets have not leaned on any single goaltender so far - in fact, all three of their Premier veteran ‘01 goalies, Daniel Miscavish, Will Augustine and Louis-Pierre Fortier, are 4-0 each. 

  • In the Cyclones, the Jets will be facing Drake Barnish, who is sixth all-time in USPHL scoring (170), second in goals (84) and tied for the current USPHL Premier scoring lead with 40 points in 15 games this year. He has not missed the scoresheet once this season. 

 

The other Great Lakes team to go 4-0 at the Detroit Showcase were the Toledo Cherokee. 

  • Toledo hosts the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones on Friday night, before going to Pittsburgh for Saturday and Sunday against the Vengeance. 

  • The Cherokee won their first two games against the Cyclones on Oct. 3 and 8. 

  • They have not seen the Vengeance yet, against whom they split their 2020-21 season series 2-2. Pittsburgh leads their all-time USPHL series 10-3-1-0. 

  • Bailey Byrd’s 16 points in 10 games this year have pushed him into second in all-time Cherokee scoring with 154 points in 120 games. 

  • Zeth Stelmaszak is three points from 100 in his career, as he has 97 points in 96 games. 

 

The Lake Erie Bighorns fared very well at the Detroit Showcase, going 3-0-1 at Mount Clemens Ice Arena. 

  • On Friday and Saturday, the Bighorns play host to the Columbus Mavericks. The Bighorns are 8-0-2 all-time against the Mavericks. 

  • Columbus themselves went 2-2 at the Detroit Showcase and won their two most recent games against Decatur and the Detroit Fighting Irish. 

 

Florida Division 

Who’s Hot: The Florida Eels, who last beat the Florida Jr. Blades on Oct. 20, remain undefeated in regulation at 8-0-0-1, falling in their fourth game in a shootout and then not again. 

  • The Eels have a Friday-Sunday home-and-home series against the Tampa Bay Juniors, who are on a 2-0 run of their own after beating the Palm Beach Typhoon in a pair. 

  • Tampa took a slight 4-3 lead in their season series last year, though the Eels have a 2-0 winning streak against the Juniors. 

  • Taurin Haddon-Harris, with 59 career points, is just 10 away from breaking into the Eels’ all-time top 20 scorers. 

  • Goaltender Alex Caron, with his win over the Florida Jr. Blades last Wednesday, tied the Eels’ record for regular season wins in the USPHL Premier (since 2017). Jakub Kostelny held the record of 21, all picked up during the 2019-20 season, the year in which Caron played his first two Premier matches and earned his first “W.” Caron has the chance, with his next win, to become the Eels’ all-time winningest goaltender in the Premier Division. 

  • Although Tampa won the weekend against Palm Beach, they still could not stop the Typhoon’s Vesse Lampen from continuing his hot streak. He has 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points in 13 straight games. 

 

Atlanta won its second game against the Florida Jr. Blades and are hoping to string together wins for the first time this year. They face the Blades again, this time on their home ice in Atlanta. 

  • The MadHatters won the season series last year and are 5-4-2 since the start of the 2020-21 season. The Jr. Blades dominated the season series in 2019-20, with a 7-0-0-1 mark. 

 

Midwest East Division 

Who’s Hot: The Metro Jets Development Program won their final three after falling in their first Detroit Showcase game. They hold a slim two-point lead over the Chicago Cougars in the Division lead race. 

  • The MJDP goes across town to the Southgate Arena to face the Detroit Fighting Irish for one game on Saturday. The MJDP is 5-1-1 all time against the Fighting Irish. 

  • MJDP goalie Freddy Soderberg leads the entire USPHL Premier in goals against average (0.80), save percentage (.972) and shutouts (3). He has let in just four goals on 141 shots faced. 

 

The Fort Wayne Spacemen are hoping their last two wins at the Showcase are the start of something special. They face the Fighting Irish in their home opener on Friday before going to Chicago for Saturday-Sunday against the Cougars. 

  • The Spacemen are undefeated at 4-0 against the Fighting Irish, whom they did not face in 2020-21. 

  • The Cougars own their all-time series against Fort Wayne 7-0-0-1. 

 

Likewise, the Decatur Blaze hope their 2-2 run at the Showcase, including their final big win against the Wooster Oilers, can push them in the right direction, as they have not won back-to-back games yet this season. 

  • Decatur is right back in Detroit this weekend, though across town at the Redford Ice Arena against the Motor City Hockey Club. 

  • The Blaze are on a 12-0 winning streak against the MCHC, who dominated the matchup’s first two seasons in the USPHL Premier, giving the Blaze a 14-7-1-1 all-time series record. 

 

Southeast Division

Who’s hot: It’s Magic In The Hamptons time again. The Hampton Roads Whalers are on a 7-0-2 run. The two overtime losses are both to the Charlotte Rush on Oct. 2-3, whom they will face at Xtreme Ice in Charlotte this weekend. 

  • A couple longtime Whalers are getting the job done for the team. Alonzo Colburn is at 102 regular season games, and Callen Daily is approaching the 100 mark at 94 in the regular season. 

  • Veteran Whaler Kenny Vought is on a 5-0 run in goal, and has not lost in regulation this year (6-0-2). His 5-0 streak matches a career best set last Oct. 23 through Dec. 5. 

  • The Whalers and Charlotte Rush are the last three Premier Champions, with the Whalers winning in 2018 and 2019, and the Rush winning this past winter (the Nationals for 2020 were canceled due to COVID-19). 

 

The Richmond Generals evened up their series against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes on Sunday after falling on Saturday. The same two teams get back together this weekend, this time in Morrisville, N.C., at the Wake Competition Center. 

  • Last season’s series was nearly dead even as well. The Generals ended up slight leaders at 4-2-1-0, with one of their wins being in overtime. 

  • Carter Jordan, with 18 goals, is just three goals away from breaking into the top 10 all-time for the Generals’ Premier goal-scoring leaderboard. 

 

Drop the pucks!