Please note: Statistics considered for Players Of The Month included limited September games, and run up to Oct. 31.
Spencer Korona, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
The only active player in the NCDC’s all-time top five for scoring, the 2001-born native of Enfield, Conn., is definitely not resting on his experience. He has absolutely upped his game and posted a league-leading 24 points in 14 games to the end of October.
He launched into the top five (with 111 career points) thanks in large part to a scoring streak that saw him post 13 points in each of last five October games, and that streak is still active in November. With his third assist in a win on Halloween night, he passed former P.A.L. teammate Ryan Willet for first on the all-time P.A.L. scoring list and simultaneously for fifth in league history. Korona was actually a three-year Springfield Jr. Pics 16U player, so his USPHL history goes all the way back to 2015, making him a shining beacon of the USPHL Development Model.
Patriks Marcinkevics, Jersey Hitmen
The 2001-born Latvian exploded onto the NCDC season in his return after last playing in the league with the Islanders Hockey Club in 2019-20. With a line of 11-11-22 in 14 games so far in 2021-22, he has increased his career points per game to 1.16, showing that he’s not only familiar with the league but loves being creative with the NCDC as his campus.
For a long period of time, he held the NCDC’s longest scoring streak, scoring 8-8-16 in the space of seven games between Oct. 4 and Oct. 23. His eight goals in those seven games are still leading the league for most goals in consecutive games.
John Gutt, Utica Jr. Comets
Like his P.A.L. counterpart, Gutt utilized a strong start to the 2021-22 season to move into the top five of his team’s all-time scoring leaderboard. Gutt has 51 points in 51 career NCDC games currently for an impressive career points per game average of 1.00.
From the start of his second full NCDC season to Halloween, he posted 17 points in 14 games for an average of 1.21, and he only missed the scoresheet three times in those 14 contests. Along the way, he helped the Jr. Comets jump up to first overall (currently tied) in the South Division as well as in the NCDC overall. Gutt has played in the USPHL, both with the Jr. Comets and in the Jersey Whalers franchise since 2016 at the USPHL 15U level. Like Korona and others on this list, he is a prime example of reaping the benefits of the USPHL Development Model.
Brandon Cimino, Jersey Hitmen
The Bentley University commit and reigning NCDC Defenseman Of The Year joined with his regular blueline partner Sean Melso in easily becoming the league’s highest scoring defensemen this season. The 2001-born native of New Rochelle, N.Y., posted 16 points through 14 games, while literally playing three times as much (in conjunction with Melso) than anyone else on his team - the two have played together 188 minutes and 57 seconds in 288 total shifts. The next closest Hitmen D pair has played 54:07 total. Cimino is the Hitmen’s leading shot-blocker with 27 (i.e., lots of black and blue).
Sean Melso, Jersey Hitmen
Another easy pick here. Along with Cimino, he commands the ice in any game he steps into both defensively and offensively. The 2002-born native of Philadelphia, Pa., is leading all NCDC defensemen offensively with 17 points in 14 games - these points coming off two separate six-game point streaks nine and eight points, respectively.
He’s been on the ice for slightly less time overall than Cimino, but is out there more often shorthanded (71:43 total this season). He and fellow blueliner Henry Rust are tied for the team lead in hits with 10 as well.
Cam Smith, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
When you’re Number 1 in each major statistical category for goaltenders, these types of honors will just come to you. Smith (‘02/Eastchester, N.Y.) finished October first or tied for first in the NCDC in wins (seven, tied with the Hitmen’s Peyton Grainer), goals against average (1.94) and save percentage (.943) and he was tied in shutouts (two, with the Advantage’s Connor Bradford). He carried the NCDC’s longest winning streak into November - with his Nov. 1 win, he is currently on a 7-0 run.
Joe Solimine, Boston Junior Bruins
A Holy Cross recruit, Solimine (‘02/Middleton, Mass.) came back to the Junior Bruins on a mission, and nothing seems to keep him from imposing his will on a game. He is the Junior Bruins’ leading scorer by six points over his closest teammate, the largest gap for any NCDC player to lead a team.
He started the season with a goal and two assists on Sept. 24, and scored in his next seven games for a total of 3-11-14 in his first eight contests. He is the Junior Bruins leader in ice time, a rarity for a forward. Overall, he stood with a 7-14-21 line through 14 games, a 1.5 point per game average, at the end of October.
Timothy Heinke, South Shore Kings
Heinke (‘01/Kensington, Conn.) scored in every single one of 12 October games, posting a streak - one which is still active - of 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points in the 10th month of the year.
Along with having the best streak overall, Heinke has been the ultimate everyman for the Kings - he’s tied for the team lead in plus-minus (+4), he leads the Kings in hits (25), and with 11 offensive zone entries, his first actions are typically the first step towards a Kings goal. Within Heinke, the Kings have found a truly dynamic player who should have college scouts absolutely frothing about this complete package.
Chikara Hanzawa, South Shore Kings
Very little can be added to the volumes already written and spoken about the ‘01 out of Tokyo, an artistic talent who is already committed to Sacred Heart University for the 2022-23 season. After leading the team last year in scoring and clicking at a 1.29 point per game pace this year (18 points in 14 games), Hanzawa became the Kings’ all-time leading scorer in the NCDC with his 57th career point.
Hanzawa ended October with four goals and three assists in six of his final seven games. He has been a big help in keeping the Kings in the hunt for the top of the North Division, as well.
Ryan Hintz, Twin City Thunder
At 5-5-0-1, The Thunder are still very much in the hunt for the seat at the head of the table in the North Division. A large part of the thanks went to the fascinating two-way play of Hintz, a 2003-born Rockford, Ill., native who has taken his league by storm. He remains the only defenseman leading his NCDC team in scoring, as he stands with a 4-6-10 line through 11 games.
Hintz and blueline partner Ben Monson have been utilized as a D pair almost three times as much as any other Thunder duo, and together they have a combined 28 blocked shots, Hintz with 13 himself.
Jude Brower, Boston Junior Bruins
The U.S. Military Academy recruit has shown just how valuable his veteran leadership is on the blue line. With a line of 4-8-12 in 15 games, he is just four points away from equaling his total offensive output of 2020-21. Those 12 points also place him third in league defenseman scoring behind the above-mentioned Hitmen duo.
Brower leads all other defensemen in ice time by a total of 50 minutes, and he also leads the defensemen in shots on goal with 42. He leads the Junior Bruins overall in hits with 20, as well. He has become the definitive two-way defenseman that every team is seeking.
Kristoffer Eberly, Northern Cyclones
Although the Cyclones have struggled as a team, their current position would be far worse without their steady ‘02 netminder from Pinckney, Mich.
Eberly remains second in the entire NCDC for save percentage with a .926 mark, all the while facing an average of 32 shots per game. In fact, through his first seven starts, he never faced less than 31 and he has not yet given up more than three goals in any single outing. His goals against average of 2.58 is also good for fifth in the league, ahead of goalies on teams farther north in the standings than the Cyclones.
Eberly is a USPHL Development Model success story, as he previously played the 2019-20 season for the Metro Jets Development Program in the USPHL Premier, posting similar numbers for that season (.925/2.49).
Top Performers Of The Week
Games Played Oct. 26-Nov. 1
Forward: Timothy Heinke, South Shore Kings
Defense: Zander Lizotte, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs
Goaltender: Mitchell Day, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs
Forward: Tyler Crist, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Defense: Sean Melso, Jersey Hitmen
Goaltender: Cam Smith, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders