Fewer and fewer leaves remain on the trees in the northeastern U.S., and the nights are dipping below freezing - morning frost is becoming commonplace. Welcome to full-on November. As cool as it may be getting from Auburn, Maine, down to Sewell, N.J., there are a few teams who are simply just scorching like it’s mid-August in Florida.
The Rockets Hockey Club in the South Division are on a 6-0 run that has their team taking over first place from a P.A.L. Jr. Islanders team that reached an all-time best winning streak of 8-0 before finally taking their first loss in nearly a month on Nov. 4. The Rockets are set to go up against the Jersey Hitmen in a home-and-home series this weekend for the first time since the two teams clashed with the Dineen Cup on the line in the single-elimination Championship Final on March 28, 2021, in Pittston, Pa. That game was won by the Hitmen, 5-2.
Up North, it’s the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs making the run for the top, currently held by the Junior Bruins, who have yet to give up their hold on first place. The Monarchs have gone 5-0 to pull up to within two points of the Junior Bruins in second place. The Junior Bruins put up three points on the weekend to give them the slightest edge over the Monarchs.
In the South, there are just three points separating first place from fourth place, and only six points separate first from fourth in the North. Every team can beat every team and it is coming up to who brings it every night. Let’s dig in to both the last week of action and what is upcoming over the next seven to eight days.
Rockets Hockey Club On Season-Best 6-0 Run To Claim South Division Lead
The Rockets picked up the sweep win over the Utica Jr. Comets with 7-2 and 3-2 victories on Friday and Saturday. They have now won all six of their games going back to Oct. 23, which includes a 3-0 run at the October-ending Beantown Classic. The wins helped them take the points lead in the South, but the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders still lead them by .009 in winning percentage. Their records are very similar, as the Rockets stand with 11-5-1-1 and the Jr. Islanders are at 11-5-0-1.
• The Rockets’ 6-0 run is their best since going 7-0 from Jan. 31-Feb. 12 in Hub City Tampa - and that was their second-best streak of last year. They had earlier posted a team record 9-0 run that saw them win all games from their last pre-Hub City game on Jan. 5 through Jan. 22.
• Their 10 goals in two games was a season high for tallies against a common opponent in two straight games.
• When the Rockets beat Utica in regulation on Saturday, they remained undefeated in regulation in one-goal games at 4-0-1-1.
• Ryan Schelling, Evan Brown and Evan Pahos each had three-point games in the 7-2 win on Friday, the second time this season that the Rockets had at least three players with three-point nights this season. The other was Oct. 3, when Pahos and Brown (with four points) were joined by Barron Woodring and Johnny Wescoe in hitting the three-point mark. That, coincidentally, was also a 7-2 win for the Rockets, over South Shore at the BJB Shootout.
• Brown and Woodring are tied for the third-longest current point streaks in the league. Both have points in each of the last six wins. Brown’s line is 5-5-10, and Woodring is at 4-4-8.
• University of Minnesota recruit goalie Geno Pichora is the only goalie in the NCDC with two separate winning streaks of at least three games each. He is currently on a three-game streak and he won four in a row between Oct. 3-9.
It’s Reigning Wins For New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs
The Monarchs defeated the Islanders Hockey Club on Monday for a 5-0 winning streak, one which began with their first Beantown Classic game on Oct. 28 and just kept on keeping on through Nov. 8 and they certainly hope beyond.
They’ve already matched their best winning streak of 2020-21, when they won five between Nov. 14 and Dec. 9, 2020. Their all-time best winning streak is eight games, claimed between Oct. 27 and Nov. 15, 2018, when the team was coached by the late, great Ryan Frew, for whom the Monarchs’ home rink was named on Sept. 26.
The Monarchs have not sailed through without letting at least two of their opponents off with a point apiece from taking them to a shootout. They won last Friday in the shootout, 3-2, and then they beat the Islanders Hockey Club, 4-1, on Monday.
• The Monarchs’ 17 goals in their five-game winning streak is the fewest of any team in the first five games of any winning streak this year. It’s closest to the Junior Bruins’ 18 goals posted on a 5-0 run between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4, but farther behind the Jersey Hitmen’s 25 goals in wins between Oct. 17-30.
• When the Monarchs’ Ben Muthersbaugh scored in the shootout on Friday against the Cyclones, that second shootout marker gave him the league lead in that category.
• A total of five shootout goals were scored during the Cyclones vs. Monarchs’ four-round one-on-one session - the most of any shootout goals in one game so far this season, beating the three scored by the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Monarchs on Oct. 3. That was the scene of Muthersbaugh’s first shootout goal.
• In full-on team play, Muthersbaugh’s three goals in three games is tied for the best active goal streak in the NCDC.
• The shootout also put the Monarchs in first in that category for this season, with four, ahead of the Cyclones’ three. Four teams in the league still have not had their first shutout of 2021-22.
• The Cyclones’ shootout efficiency of 35.3 percent (6 goals on 17 total attempts) also leads the league among teams with at least two outings that go beyond 65 minutes.
• The Monarchs are No. 1 in penalty killing with a 90.9 success rate (60-for-66).
• Monarchs goalie Mitchell Day moved up to second in the league with his eighth win of the season. Not surprisingly, his three shootout victories are also first in the league. He has allowed three shootout goals on 12 shots.
• Tanner Hartman’s 10 points in seven games is the second longest active scoring streak in the NCDC. The longest belongs to the South Shore Kings' Timothy Heinke, who has 19 points (11-8-19) in his last 12 games. Heinke has only missed the scoresheet once this season.
Boston Advantage Register Points In Four Straight Games
The Advantage have put together their second-best points run of the season by going 2-0-2-0 in their last four games. Their best, of course, was a team record 4-0 run assembled between Oct. 15-24.
The Advantage played in three games over the last week, starting with a 4-3 OT loss to the Islanders Hockey Club on Nov. 4. They rebounded against the Twin City Thunder, 3-1, on Nov. 6, and then against the South Shore Kings with a 4-3 regulation victory on Nov. 9.
• With a goal and an assist against the Kings on Tuesday, Cade Helmer matched Muthersbaugh for best current goal streak at three games (3-2-5 line).
• Johnny Hammel also has points in three straight (2-1-3).
Junior Bruins, Northern Cyclones Round Up Three Points Each In Last Pair Of Games
While the Boston Junior Bruins may be feeling the heat at the top of the North Division, they keep doing what they need to do remain in the pole position. Most recently, they were able to rebound from a 4-1 loss to the Cyclones on Nov. 4 by defeating the Islanders Hockey Club, 4-3, on Nov. 6 in regulation. After that, however, the Twin City Thunder beat them in a shootout 4-3, on Nov. 7. They face the Thunder in their very next game on Friday night in Maine (see “Upcoming Action” below).
Meantime, the Northern Cyclones went from the win against the Junior Bruins into the aforementioned 3-2 shootout loss to the Monarchs.
• With Holy Cross recruit Joe Solimine’s eighth goal of the season coming on the power play against the Islanders, he pulled into a tie for the league lead in PPG’s with Patriks Marcinkevics. It was Solimine’s first power play marker as he also leads the NCDC in power play assists (10).
• It should also be noted here that Solimine leads the league in shorthanded points with four (and is tied with Tanner Hartman for shorthanded goals at three apiece).
• The Junior Bruins' Connor Wood’s ninth goal of the season broke the 3-3 tie with the Islanders and gave him his third GWG of the season, putting him in a three-way tie with the Islanders HC’s Andrew Carmody and P.A.L.’s Tyler Crist.
• Colin Winn, who earned the win in the last 20 minutes of the game against IHC, leads the league by almost 40 minutes at 865 (the Advantage’s Connor Bradford is second at 788).
• The shootout goal by the Cyclones’ Austin Rice to kick off that wild five-goal shootout party with the Monarchs was the first shootout goal scored by a defenseman in 2021-22.
• The Cyclones are unique in that all three of their games that have gone beyond 60 minutes have ended in a shootout. They have not had an overtime decision yet this year.
• The Cyclones' John Goldowski became the fifth player this season to register a hat trick and the only one so far in November to do so.
Around The Boards In The NCDC
Elsewhere around the NCDC, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders extended their team record winning streak to eight games when they defeated the Jersey Hitmen, 3-1, on Nov. 3. The streak officially began on Oct. 16 with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Hockey Club, their first game coming out of a 2-1 stand at the Hitmen Classic.
In the very next game, however, the Jersey Hitmen defeated P.A.L. 4-2 to end the streak. In defeating the P.A.L., they broke a 2-2 tie that lasted through the second period. It was only the Hitmen’s second game all season they won after being tied through two periods. It was also their first W in a game decided by two goals (out of three total).
• The Hitmen’s Patriks Marcinkevics likes home cooking - any time the Hitmen have been the home team, he has scored, to the tune of 17 points in nine home games, the best by a lot.
• Patriks’ twin brother Dominiks Marcinkevics made his 2021-22 season debut with the Hitmen on Nov. 5, scoring two goals. Dominiks last played for the Islanders Hockey Club in 2019-20, scoring 42 points in 42 regular season games.
• P.A.L.’s goalie Cam Smith faced the most shots in any first period this year, 21, making 19 saves in the 4-2 loss on Nov. 5.
The Islanders Hockey Club earned their second overtime win of the season (tied with four other teams for the lead in that category) on Nov. 4 by beating the Boston Advantage, 4-3. The fun didn’t last long for IHC, as they took losses in their next two - falling to 4-3 in regulation to the Junior Bruins, and 4-1 to the Monarchs.
• One-hundred percent of Andrew Carmody’s three goals for IHC this season are game-winners. Those three GWG’s also tie him for the league lead in that category. His third was the deciding factor in the win over the Advantage. He is the outright winner in OT goals with two.
The Twin City Thunder had a busy start to November with three games in three days in two states. They started the run with a home 7-6 regulation win over the South Shore Kings, and followed that up with a 3-1 loss on Saturday to the Boston Advantage. On Sunday, they got that 4-3 shootout win against the Junior Bruins for a 2-1 weekend. It was the first and only time so far this year that a team has faced three different opponents over three straight days in a non-showcase situation.
• Twin City goalie Brody Haynes stopped all three Junior Bruin shooters to become just the fifth goalie to go clean through a shootout this year.
• The Thunder have the best home points vs. away points differential of any team this year. They are 5-1-0-1 when they’re the home team for 11 points and just 2-5-0-0 for four points on the road.
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Philadelphia Hockey Club split their weekend home-and-home series, with CJR winning 3-2 Saturday and Philadelphia winning 6-5 on Sunday, both in regulation.
• After at least 14 games played for all teams, Connecticut is the last team to not have allowed a single shorthanded goal against them this year.
• Philadelphia’s Chip Hamlett tied a season high of four assists in a game in the Sunday victory, joining Jersey’s Will Traeger who had four helpers on Oct. 30. Hamlett (26 points) is four points away from tying the PHC's all-time career scoring record.
• New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs at South Shore Kings, Fri., Nov. 12 - The two teams each have a regulation win against each other - the Kings won 3-1 on Oct. 19 and the Monarchs won 5-2 on Oct. 29, the second of their five straight wins.
• Northern Cyclones at Boston Advantage, Fri., Nov. 12 - The Advantage won their first two matches this season by shutout, and hold a 3-1-0-1 all-time series lead.
• Connecticut Jr. Rangers at Utica Jr. Comets, Fri.-Sun., Nov. 12-14 - The two teams earlier played in Connecticut Oct. 8-9 and split that weekend. Utica’s 3-2 win on Oct. 9 was their first win over Connecticut since the former Syracuse Stars moved to Utica.
• Rockets Hockey Club vs. Jersey Hitmen, Fri.-Sat., Nov. 12-13 - The weekend home-and-home begins in Bridgewater, home of the Rockets. This is the first matchup of the 2020-21 Dineen Cup finalists since the Hitmen’s March 28 championship victory. The Hitmen hold the all-time regular season series lead at 19-1-0-1. Both of the Rockets victories, including one in a shootout, came during the 2020-21 season.
• Boston Junior Bruins at Twin City Thunder, Fri., Nov. 12 - The Junior Bruins took that shootout loss on Sunday, after defeating the Thunder 2-0 in Game 2 of their season on Sept. 25.
• Islanders Hockey Club at Northern Cyclones, Sat., Nov. 13 - The Cyclones and Islanders have each won one-goal games. The Islanders won a 4-3 shootout on Oct. 6, and the Cyclones won 3-2 four days later.
• Twin City Thunder at New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Sat., Nov. 13 - On Oct. 16, the Thunder won their only meeting with the Monarchs so far, 4-3, in overtime. The Monarchs lead the all-time series 8-2-1-0.
• Philadelphia Hockey Club vs. P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, Sat.-Sun., Nov. 13-14 - P.A.L. won two games that went beyond 60 minutes - one in a shootout, one in OT - on Oct. 16-17. P.A.L. holds an all-time 7-1-0-0 series record.
• South Shore Kings at Boston Junior Bruins, Nov. 14 - This is the first meeting of the season between these teams. The Junior Bruins lead 15-3-2-0 in the all-time series.
Drop The Pucks!