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USPHL Elite Players Of The Week: North Region

By USPHL Staff, 11/23/21, 7:45PM EST


Week of Nov. 23, 2021 - Includes Weekly Recap

North Division 

Forward: Ben Goring, Springfield Pics

Goring (‘03/LaSalle, Que.) has found his groove at the Elite level for the Pics, and never moreso than at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, where he posted three goals and three assists, registering points in three of the four showcase games. The peak came in a Saturday win over the New York Aviators, where he scored a pair of goals. He currently has seven points in his five Elite games. He’s also played in seven USPHL Premier games this year. 


Defense: Riley Klas, Boston Junior Bruins 

Klas (‘03/Moscow, Idaho) had an impressive weekend for the Junior Bruins, who went 2-1-1 at the IHC Showcase. He scored a goal and two assists for a three-point game against the Jersey Whalers and came back with an assist to close out the showcase and the month on Monday in a defeat to the Potomac Patriots. 


Goaltender: Jack Messing, Springfield Pics

Messing (‘04/North Montgomery, N.Y.) was impressive in net over the showcase weekend, making a strong showing of 41 saves on 45 shots in a loss to the league-leading 21-4 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. He also made 20 saves on 22 shots against the Rockets Hockey Club in a 5-2 win to close out the event and the month of November. 


Mid-Atlantic Division

Forward: Marco Taffo, Rockets Hockey Club  

Two weeks running in this spot, and it’s no surprise, after he posted four points in the three games the Rockets played at the IHC Showcase. Scoring two goals and two assists put him at 29 points in 20 games for the season, and also gave him 16 goals, good for a four-way tie for third in the league. He put up a goal and two assists in the Rockets’ closing game on Sunday, a 3-2 win over the host Islanders. 


Defense: Joseph Mariotti, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

The Knights went 3-1 at the IHC Showcase, falling only to the defending National Champion Charlotte Rush in their final outing. Mariotti (‘05/Old Forge, Pa.) teed up the overtime game-winner to help the Knights to a 3-2 win over the Junior Bruins on Saturday. All told, they only gave up four goals in their first three games before falling to the Rush by a 4-1 mark. 


Goaltender: Frank Smith, Jersey Hitmen

Smith (‘04/Little Ferry, N.J.) faced down the same defending champs the Rush and stopped 43 of 44 shots through 65 minutes of play. When that wasn’t enough to decide a 1-1 game, the Rush and Hitmen went to a shootout and Smith stopped all nine of the shootout shots he faced. Giovanni Russo and Rocco Garcia answered a goal by Drew DePuydt to win the shootout on the offensive side and give Smith his fifth straight win. The Junior Bruins ended his streak by defeating Jersey, but Smith was still impressive with 25 saves on 27 shots. 


Weekly Recap

Mid-Atlantic Division

Standings positions did not change a bit, as only the WBS Knights - with their 3-1 run at the IHC Showcase - pulled in more than four points on the weekend. The Jersey Hitmen remained firmly in second with their 2-2 record at the showcase, highlighted (as aforementioned) by their win over the defending National Champion Charlotte Rush. They also defeated the Islanders Hockey Club, 2-1. 

The third-place Aviators came out of the showcase without a point - their closest games were two-goal losses to the Northern Cyclones and Springfield Pics. 

The fourth-place Rockets Hockey Club took a one-goal loss to the Potomac Patriots, a 5-2 loss to the Pics and then rebounded in a big way with a closing 3-2 win over the Islanders Hockey Club. The Jersey Whalers, like the Aviators, were unable to pick up a point and fell in four decisive games. 


North Division

The host Islanders Hockey Club remains in first place by the same three-point margin with which they entered their title showcase. However, now they have three teams tied for second just three points away and nipping even more at their heels to start December. The Islanders went 2-2, picking up a 7-2 win over the Jersey Hitmen and an even more decisive win against the Jersey Whalers. The losses were to the Charlotte Rush and the Rockets Hockey Club. 

Due to the same Skate 3 ice issues that kept the Rockets Hockey Club to just three games, the Northern Cyclones also played just three of their planned four at the showcase. They put a 4-2 win over the Aviators and a 4-0 shutout over the Jersey Whalers on either side of a 2-1 loss to the Jersey Hitmen. 

Yet another team to earn four points were the Springfield Pics, who defeated the Aviators (5-1) and the Rockets (3-2), while taking losses to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. 

The Junior Bruins were the biggest gainers, earning a division-high five points with a 2-1-1 record. They took the first place Knights to overtime, falling 3-2, then won a pair against both the Hitmen (2-0) and Jersey Whalers (8-2). On Monday, they fell by a 6-3 score to the Potomac Patriots. 

The Bridgewater Bandits were only able to come out with two points, from an opening 8-1 win over the New York Aviators, before taking subsequent losses to the Rush, Carolina and Potomac. 

Check back late next week as the weekly column "The Breakdown: USPHL Elite" makes its return!