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The Breakdown: USPHL Premier

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 11/18/21, 11:15AM EST

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Nov. 18, 2021

Much of the USPHL Premier - though certainly not all - will kick off Thursday, Friday or Saturday at the massive Islanders Hockey Club Showcase at three facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The event runs from Thursday, Nov. 18, to the following Monday, Nov. 22, and in nearly all cases marks the end of games for November - there are just eight games remaining in the Premier Division after Monday. Let’s see which teams are the hottest heading into this showcase and right through the end of November. 

 

New England Division 

Who’s Hot: The Northern Cyclones are unbeaten in regulation in their last eight heading into the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase. The Boston Junior Bruins are on a 5-0-1 run, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs have won three in a row, and the South Shore Kings are on a 3-0 run to hold a seven-point lead in the division. The Bridgewater Bandits also won their most recent. 

 

The Cyclones face the Pittsburgh Vengeance on Vengeance, followed by both the Minnesota Blue Ox and Minnesota Moose on Friday. They close out Sunday night with the Pueblo Bulls.  

• The Northern Cyclones’ Travis Marchant and Jackson Tillinghast each have two shootout goals - the only two teammates with as many.

• The Cyclones are 8-0-0-0 when leading after two periods. 

 

For the Junior Bruins, their draw features the Blue Ox on Thursday, the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes on Sunday and the Bulls on Monday.  

• Junior Bruins veteran Tyler Borys has posted three-point games in four out of six November games so far.

• Coincidentally, just like their New England Division mates the Cyclones, the Junior Bruins are 8-0-0-0 when they’re up after two periods. 

 

The Monarchs kick off their showcase run with the Wooster Oilers on Thursday. Their two-game day is Friday, when they go up against the Columbus Mavericks and Pittsburgh Vengeance, and on Sunday, the Potomac Patriots are their opponent. 

• The Monarchs’ Matt Horan is on an active eight-game point streak in which he’s posted a 3-9-12 line so far.

 

The Kings are one of the few Premier squads that have already sealed up their bags for November and will next play Dec. 1 against the Bridgewater Bandits. 

• South Shore Kings veteran goalie Max Macchioni is the leader in save percentage

at .958. He is second in wins with nine, and he is tied for the lead in shutouts with four. He has already played in two NCDC games, registering wins in both. 

• Zach Bell was the top defensive scoring leader for the Kings (6-14-20 in 15 games, sixth in the league). He may be staying up with the NCDC after already posting four points in four November games. 

 

The Bandits, who last played on Nov. 10 beating the Cyclones 3-2 in overtime, get back in action Friday against the Rum River Mallards, draw the Connecticut Jr. Rangers Saturday and then go with two on Sunday against the Midwest West’s Hudson Havoc and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings. 

• Goalie Konrad Kausch is sixth in the league in goals against average with a 1.77, one of just 13 goalies remaining under 2.00 after 300 minutes played. 

• Defenseman Ian Burgin’s first goal of the year was the OT GWG against the Cyclones, and his first GWG since almost exactly a year earlier on Nov. 6 against the Monarchs. 

 

Great Lakes Division 

Who’s Hot: All eyes remain on the 17-0 Metro Jets, who have the chance this weekend to bypass the 20-0 record the 2019-20 Islanders Hockey Club started out with. And who better to face in their first game on Thursday evening than the 2021-22 Islanders Hockey Club? Coming up not far behind them are the Toledo Cherokee, whose 11-0 streak is the league’s second best. The Cincinnati Cyclones, and the league’s all-time top goal-scorer Drake Barnish, enter the IHC Showcase on a 4-0 run.

 

After the Islanders Hockey Club, the Jets have a pair of games Friday against the Philadelphia Hockey Club and the Northern Colorado Eagles. They go up against the defending National Champion Charlotte Rush on Saturday morning in an absolute marquee matchup. 

•  Jets defenseman Braydin Lewis has the longest active (and overall) assists streak, having posted 18 helpers in his last 11 games going back to Oct. 15. 

• Forward Alex Schaumburger has posted 34 points in his own scoring streak, which is now at 15 games, the second longest active and overall streak in the Premier. 

• Jets goaltenders Daniel Miscavish (1.17) and Louis-Pierre Fortier (1.50) are first and third in GAA in the league.

• The Rush and the Jets have met twice before. On Oct. 12, 2018, the Rush won 4-3 in overtime at the first of two Chicago Showcases that season. Almost a year later, on Sept. 27, 2019, the Rush won 3-1 at the USPHL Southeast Showcase. 

• On Nov. 16, 2018, at that year’s Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, the Islanders eked out a 2-1 shootout victory in the two teams’ only previous meeting. 

 

The Toledo Cherokee are one of the few Great Lakes Division teams not taking part in the IHC Showcase (they will instead be at the USPHL Winter Showcase in January). Even still, they will cross divisional lines this weekend taking on the Fort Wayne Spacemen in a home-and-home Friday-and-Sunday series. 

• Goaltender Joey Cormier leads all USPHL Premier goalies with 10 victories. 

• Veteran Bailey Byrd moved into seventh all-time on the USPHL Premier scoring leaderboard with 172 points in 126 games. He is on an active seven-game, 12-goal goal-scoring streak. 

 

The Cyclones take on their first Eastern competition when they start the IHC Showcase against the Junior Bruins in the first of two straight two-game days. Later Friday, they face the Philadelphia Hockey Club. Saturday starts with the Dells Ducks and ends with the Rum River Mallards, giving them their first taste of the Midwest West Division. 

• The Cyclones’ Drake Barnish is absolutely gunning it for the all-time scoring lead in the USPHL Premier, set last year by former Chicago Cougar Jozef Martancik at 216 points. Barnish is third all-time with 184 points and with just five more points, he’ll be in sole possession of second. He joins Byrd and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings defenseman Jordan Stear as current players in the all-time top 10.

• Barnish is the leading scorer in the USPHL Premier heading into the showcase, with 28 goals and 26 assists for 54 points in just 21 games. True to form, he also leads the league in goals. 

• Goalie Blake Mitchell moved into a tie for ninth in wins with nine on the season and he’s No. 1 in goaltender minutes played at 918. 

• Defenseman Joey Mattevi, a top 10 defenseman scorer with 20 points, is second in the league in power play assists by a defenseman with eight. 

 

Mountain Division

Who's Hot: The Northern Colorado Eagles have seen other top opponents around them defeating each other. Within that scenario, they have put together a 3-0 run heading into the IHC Showcase in Massachusetts. Utah and Ogden have also won their most recent games, and Utah still holds a six-point lead at the top. 

 

The Eagles will actually be taking on Midwest West and Great Lakes teams when they’re in New England. They start Thursday evening against the Minnesota Moose, have a two-fer Friday with the Pittsburgh Vengeance and Metro Jets, and then they finish up Saturday against the Hudson Havoc to close out their November schedule.  

• Last year at the 2020 USPHL Chicago Showcase, the Eagles faced the Vengeance (3-2 win on Dec. 17), the Moose (5-1 win on Dec. 18) and the Jets (6-3 loss on Dec. 20). 

• Half of Eagles forward Javen Heidergrott’s goals came in a Nov. 7 hat trick, and he is on an active three-game, five-point scoring streak.

• Three other Eagles players - Evan Wammes (1-3-4), Eric Brink (1-2-3), and Quinn O’Reilly (2-1-3) - have points in their last three. 

 

The Outliers stay home, but they’ll be playing outside their division against the Lake Tahoe Lakers Friday through Sunday. 

• Don’t get behind the Outliers on the board, as they are 9-0 when scoring the first goal of a game. 

 

Ogden makes its first trip east, and they will play Philadelphia on Thursday, the Minnesota Blue Ox on Friday, the Charlotte Rush on Saturday and they close out Sunday against the Islanders Hockey Club. 

• The Mustangs are seventh in both shots on goal per game (44.67) and seventh in fewest shots against per game (25.93). 

•  Seth Jones is on a five-game point streak with two goals and three assists for five points in that stretch. 

 

Midwest West Division 

Who’s Hot: The Hudson Havoc haven’t gone without points in their last nine (7-0-2), the Minnesota Blue Ox are holding hard on to first place with a 4-0 run. The Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings in second went 1-0-1 this past weekend against Chicago. The Rum River Mallards are trying to put together a climb with a recent 2-0-1 points streak. 

 

The Havoc are making their first trip to the IHC Showcase since 2018, and they hope for better than their 2-1-1 run back in the days of yore. They kick off Friday against the Utica Jr. Comets, go up against the Northern Colorado Eagles and Columbus Mavericks on Saturday, and close out Sunday with the Bridgewater Bandits, taking on four teams from four different divisions. 

• The Havoc’s current six-game winning streak is third best in the league behind Metro and Toledo. 

• Hudson’s Harvey Dove is on a six-game point-scoring streak, posting a 6-7-13 line, while Robby Pustulka has 13 points in his last seven.

 

The Blue Ox play three games at Cyclones Arena in Hudson N.H., and their second Friday game a few miles away at Skate 3 just over state lines in Tyngsborough, Mass. They kick off Thursday with the Boston Junior Bruins, the Cyclones themselves on Friday morning, the Mustangs on Friday night, and then get a Saturday morning breakfast match with the Lake Erie Bighorns. 

• Despite co-existing in the league together for five years, Thursday will mark the first-ever matchup with the Junior Bruins. Both are on hot streaks of 4-0 (Blue Ox) and 5-0-1-0 (Junior Bruins).

• The Blue Ox’s Cale Goenner is second among Premier defensemen in goals (11), tied for second in power play goals (five) and is tied for the lead among blueliners in shorthanded goals (two).

• Michael Clough has the hot hand for the Ox, with a 7-3-10 line in his last six contests. 

 

The Riverkings have their first game at the IHC Showcase Friday against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, they go with two on Saturday against Philadelphia Hockey Club and the Twin City Thunder, and they wrap Sunday afternoon against the Bridgewater Bandits. 

• Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings defenseman Jordan Stear broke the all-time mark for USPHL Premier assists with his 141st during a split weekend with the Chicago Cougars over Nov. 12-13. 

• Stear remains fourth in league defenseman scoring this year with 21 points in 17 games, and he is one of just two defensemen league-wide with a shootout-winning goal.  

• Both Benjamin Pizzimenti (6-5-11) and Grant Newcomer (4-5-9) are enjoying seven-game point streaks. 

 

The Mallards start their IHC Showcase run Friday against Bridgewater, they carry on to a pair Saturday against Lake Erie and the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones, and close up Sunday afternoon against Utica. 

• Rum River’s Cooper Brodzinski still holds the season high of six goals scored in a game, three of which were shorthanded, on Sept. 17.

 

Midwest East Division 

Who’s Hot: The best streak is currently held by the Detroit Fighting Irish, who are on a 3-0 run and close to the top four. Just in front of them, however, and on a 2-0 run of their own after sweeping Decatur, are the Midwest Blackbirds. The showcase-bound Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP) and the Chicago Cougars, remaining home, are tied for first and the MJDP is on a 2-0 run after a sweep of Fort Wayne. 

 

The Fighting Irish trek east to face Decatur for a Friday-Saturday pair, and then they go up against Chicago on Sunday to close their November. 

• Decatur holds the all-time series lead against the Fighting Irish at 14-51-0. 

• Detroit’s veteran blueliner Shane Romback is tied for third in goals by a defenseman (nine) and tied for second in power play goals (five). He has 11 points in his last five straight games.

 

The Blackbirds play host to the Motor City Hockey Club on Saturday, and the Blaze on Sunday. 

• The Blackbirds hold a 13-7-0-0 record. Their only 2021-22 meeting so far saw a 6-5 overtime victory for the Blackbirds on Oct. 10. 

• Midwest’s Jason Romer has put together a 3-4-7 line over his last six games.

 

MJDP is the only Midwest East team making the trek to the IHC Showcase with their Metro Jets (Great Lakes) brethren. They start out on Thursday against the Springfield Pics, move on to Friday to face the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and much later that night the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. They close Saturday afternoon against the Jersey Whalers. 

• MJDP goaltender Freddy Soderberg is tied for the league lead with four shutouts and he is second in save percentage (.947).

• Swedish defenseman Jonathan Martin returned for his first games since September to put together a three-point weekend against the Fort Wayne Spacemen. 

 

The Chicago Cougars, coming off a split weekend with the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, play host to the Motor City Hockey Club and the Detroit Fighting Irish this weekend. 

 

Atlantic East Division 

Who’s Hot: Here’s one of those Divisions where everyone’s beating everybody, and the leading Rockets Hockey Club’s 2-0-1 is currently the grandest points streak, one which they will carry into December after breaking early for Thanksgiving.  Besides the Rockets, only the IHC Showcase-bound Philadelphia Hockey Club has won its most recent game. 

• Individually, Rockets newcomer Nick Cyprian is absolutely scorching with 21 points in his last eight straight games, including four games with three or more points, maxing out with a five-goal night against Utica on Nov. 7.

 

Philadelphia actually has six games remaining for November, playing a two-game series in Utica on the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving. 

• The PHC’s IHC Showcase slate features the Ogden Mustangs on Thursday, Metro Jets and Cincinnati on Friday and the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on Friday. 

• Philly is 5-0 when leading after one period, and 7-0 when up after two. 

• No one on PHC has any big scoring streaks going, but Arcadia University recruit Sam Libetti did put up a pair of goals and two assists in their recent win against the Hershey Cubs. 

 

Also going to the IHC Showcase are the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Jersey Whalers. 

• Connecticut has two on Friday against Lake Erie and MJDP, followed by one Saturday against Bridgewater and they wrap it up on Sunday against Columbus. 

• P.A.L. draws MJDP on Friday, Wooster on Saturday and their two-fer Sunday features Lake Erie and the host Islanders Hockey Club. 

• The Whalers start on Saturday against MJDP, have two on Sunday against the Dells Ducks and Springfield Pics, and they close Monday with the Potomac Patriots. 

 

Atlantic West Division 

Who’s Hot: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and the Utica Jr. Comets are both on 4-0 runs, but the Knights are currently somewhat secure in being 10 points ahead of the Jr. Comets, and much more decisively ahead against the rest of the Atlantic West. The Buffalo Stampede also won their most recent game against Elmira. 

 

Wilkes-Barre, which started out fast and furious with 14 games through the end of October, has gone on a break from games and will be back Dec. 4 against Hershey. 

• The Knights’ Tade Carman joins the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes’ Niklas Seppanen as one of only two goalies in the league with two shootout victories.

 

Utica is the busy team here, the only Atlantic West squad heading to the IHC Showcase, just a few weeks after taking part in the Fall Beantown Classic. They also have that post-Thansgiving two-fer with Philadelphia Hockey Club. 

• The Jr. Comets face the Hudson Havoc and Minnesota Mullets on Friday, followed by the Pueblo Bulls Saturday and the Rum River Mallards on Sunday. 

• Brendan Vettraino is red-hot for the Jr. Comets with a 4-11-15 line in each of his last eight contests.

 

Buffalo had a fun time with their 7-4 victory against Elmira, following a tough prior weekend against the Columbus Mavericks. They’ll try to keep up the good vibes against the Hershey Cubs this weekend at home. 

• The Cubs won both of their Oct. 22-23 games by 5-4 scores, one in overtime. 

 

Southeast Division 

Who’s Hot: The Carolina Jr. Hurricanes have done a good job of keeping away those seeking to knock them off as kings of the hill, though they only hold it by three points as they get ready for the showcase in Massachusetts. They are on a 4-0-1-0 points streak. Only Hampton Roads and Charlotte have also won their most recent games. 

 

The Jr. Canes start Friday evening against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, then draw the Minnesota Moose and Pittsburgh Vengeance for Saturday, and Sunday finds them up against the Junior Bruins. 

• The Jr. Canes and Moose faced each other in the 2020 Winter Showcase, with Carolina winning 7-1, but then the Moose came back 15 months later and defeated the Jr. Canes 3-2 at the 2021 Premier Nationals. Little bit of rivalry brewing here? 

• Carolina’s Tyler Fittro is third in points per game by a defenseman (1.46) and he has six points in his last four games. 

• Teammate Daniel Nau, meanwhile, has eight points through his last five games.

• Goaltender Niklas Seppanen joins Wilkes-Barre’s Tade Carman as the only goalies with two shootout wins. 

 

Charlotte has a great start to the IHC Showcase with the host Islanders Hockey Club, who they last faced at Premier Nationals with a trip to the semis on the line. The 2-2 tie to close both teams’ round robins saw the tiebreaker fall in Charlotte’s favor, so the Islanders come into that Friday game with a chip on their shoulder. 

• Then, the next morning, the Rush have to come back and face the Metro Jets, all 17-0 coming into the showcase. The rest of Saturday and their Sunday will be spent against the Mountain Division’s Ogden Mustangs and Pueblo Bulls.  

• Nick Anderson comes to the IHC Showcase tied for fourth in save percentage (.943).

 

Hampton Roads, along with the Richmond Generals, will remain back in Virginia for a Saturday-Sunday series and see much of the rest of the league at the Winter Showcase. 

• Hampton Roads’ Callen Daily has 7-6-13 in his last eight games, and he is tied for first in the league with four shorthanded points. 

 

Pacific Division

Who’s Hot: Fresno, at 10-0-2-0 in their last 12, is on the third-best points streak in the USPHL Premier, after only the Metro Jets (17-0) and Toledo Cherokee (11-0). San Diego won their last pair of games against Ontario, and the leading Lake Tahoe Lakers won their last two of three against Long Beach. 

 

Fresno makes the trip south to San Diego for their last three games until their only December set of matches (beginning Dec. 16).  

• The Monsters have won all 10 of their games against San Diego in the two teams’ USPHL tenure, including an Oct. 15-16 set which started with a decisive shutout by the Monsters and concluded with a more competitive 5-2 Fresno victory. 

• The Fresno Monsters have the second-most players in the league’s top 20 in scoring after division rivals the Lake Tahoe Lakers, who have four. For the Monsters, this includes Narek Aleksanyan (41 points, fifth), Stepan Skvirskii (35, 10th) and Mikhail Gavrilenko (33 points, 16th).

 

Lake Tahoe, as aforementioned, will visit Utah for three against the Outliers in the new team’s first-ever venture outside the Pacific Division. 

• The Lakers’ Jett Arminen remains the most productive scorer with a 3.83 points per game average (46 points in 12 games). He joins Ari Rossi (43 points), Luke Stevens (38) and Rihards Mertens (36 points) as the squad’s four players in the top 10 of USPHL Premier scoring. 

• Lakers defenseman Luke Stevens had a game-winning goals streak in three straight wins for Lake Tahoe earlier this season, and leads all league blueliners by five points, with 35 in 18 games. The Lakers’ Chase Sechrist is third, at 21 points. 

• Mertens has the third-longest points streak in the league at 13 games (all of his games so far), in which he has produced a dead-even 18-18-36 line. 

 

Florida Division 

Who’s Hot: This is another of those divisions with so much parity that it’s tough to string wins together and no one currently has more than a winning streak of two for the Eels. The Florida Jr. Blades are the only other team with a win in their most recent game. 

 

After defeating Palm Beach 6-2 on Wednesday, the Eels only have the Sunday back half of the home-and-home remaining for their month of November. 

• The Eels are 3-0 so far against the Typhoon, with the closest being a 4-2 win on Oct. 17. 

• Florida Eels veteran forward Taurin Haddon-Harris has been especially generous since Halloween, giving out assists (14 of them) in his last seven games back to Oct. 31, the second-longest helper streak in the league.

• It took 18 games into the Palm Beach Typhoon’s existence to keep Finnish import Vesse Lampen off the scoresheet. In his first 17 games, Lampen scored all 26 of his points so far for the league’s longest overall scoring streak of 2021-22. The Jets’ Schaumburger is two games behind going into the IHC Showcase. 

 

Prior to the Eels’ win over the Typhoon, the Florida Jr. Blades and Palm Beach split the Nov. 13-14 weekend. The Jr. Blades, hosts of the USPHL Florida College Showcase, will have to wait until a Dec. 3-4 weekend series against Atlanta to try to string wins together. 

• Cole Ketola goes into the break with the hot hand of seven points in his last three games, while Cameron Croteau and Brett Beale each have five in their last three.