Atlantic West Division
Forward: Filip Tjarnhell, Hershey Cubs
Tjarnhell (‘02/Sweden) earned three goals in the two wins for the Cubs against divisional foes the Buffalo Stampede, including two in the weekend opener. He also had a goal in a Nov. 16 loss to the New York Aviators.
Defense: Andrew Manley, Utica Jr. Comets
The 2002-born New Yorker has no off switch, and every weekend puts together shining offensive and defensive performances. Over four games at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase - split 2-2 - Manley put together five assists, and he was also a defensive leader putting up a team-leading +7 rating for the set in Massachusetts.
Goaltender: Hogan Nelson, Hershey Cubs
Nelson (‘01/Providence, R.I.) continues to make a seamless transition from being a star goaltender at the Elite level for the Richmond Generals to now being a leading goaltender for his team at the Premier level. He stopped all 21 shots against him by the Buffalo Stampede for his first shutout of the season. A few days earlier, he did all that was humanly possible in stopping 64 shots in a loss to the New York Aviators.
New England Division
Forward: Brett Williams, Bridgewater Bandits
Williams (‘01/Pembroke, Mass.) was a massive presence for a Bridgewater Bandits team that went 4-0 at the Islanders Hockey Club showcase. He posted a scoring line of 4-3-7 for the four games, including the only goal in a 1-0 victory against a strong Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings team on Sunday, their fourth and final game. He scored a goal in each showcase game, and a high of 1-2-3 in a win against Connecticut.
Defense: Sean Gardner, Boston Junior Bruins
Gardner (‘01/Holden, Mass.) was a standout player for Wachusett Regional High School prior to joining the Junior Bruins last year, and his junior career has been stellar so far. In the four games since Nov. 17, including three at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, Gardner put up three assists while leading the team in average ice time (18:08 per game) and he blocked nine shots over that stretch as well.
Goaltender: Brett Tome, Twin City Thunder
The Thunder were among the top teams at the IHC Showcase, going 3-0-0-1, just missing a perfect 4-0 due to a shootout loss in their final game. Tome was golden throughout, playing in three of the games and going 2-0-0-1, while stopping 75 of 77 shots. The second-year Premier veteran and 2001-born native of Hartland, Mich., shut out a very strong Minnesota Moose with 26 saves.
Atlantic East Division
Forward: Blake Kashark, New York Aviators
Kashark (‘03/Lockport, Ill.) is a first-year player who continues to improve as the season goes on. Recently, in a three-game stretch against the Hershey Cubs and the Elmira Jr. Enforcers, he registered seven points, better than 50 percent of his total output this season. He had a 1-3-4 line against the Cubs, and a goal and two assists in the wins over the Jr. Enforcers.
Defense: Dino Mannetta, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
The division’s best-performing team at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, the Jr. Islanders went 3-1. Mannetta (‘03/Wading River, N.Y.) was on ice through the weekend more than any other Islanders, playing an average of 22:25 per team, and he also racked up seven blocked shots, a +3 rating and three assists on the weekend.
Goaltender: Dmitrii Kapranov, Jersey Whalers
Kapranov (‘03/Holmdel, N.J.) continues to impress and is a big reason why the Whalers are as high in the standings as they are, in second place. At the Islanders Showcase, he posted a 24-save shutout win against the Dells Ducks. Over the last week, he also made 33 saves on 37 shots in a loss to Potomac and he stopped 59 of 63 shots against the Rockets Hockey Club on Nov. 17 to give him 108 saves on 116 shots for a weekly save percentage of .931.
No teams in the East changed standings positions, but the Jersey Whalers pulled themselves to within one point of the leading Rockets Hockey Club. The two teams faced each other on Nov. 17 - a 4-2 Rockets win and their last game until December.
Including that game, the Whalers went 2-3 in five games between Nov. 17 and 22. At the IHC Showcase, the Whalers started out with shutout wins against the Metro Jets Development Program, or MJDP (1-0) and the Dells Ducks (6-0), before running into trouble against the Springfield Pics and Potomac Patriots on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Facing teams from the Atlantic West recently, the New York Aviators swept all three games against the Hershey Cubs (6-2) and Elmira (5-2, 8-3) to pull to within three points of the Rockets.
Fourth-place Philadelphia Hockey Club did not move up, points-wise, as they came up short in their four IHC Showcase games against the Ogden Mustangs, Metro Jets, Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings. They are one of the few teams with Thanksgiving weekend games, as they play two in Utica against the Jr. Comets Saturday and Sunday.
The fifth-place Jersey Hitmen were idle and won’t return until December after a light four-game month of November.
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders doubled their wins total from before the showcase by going 3-1 in Massachusetts. They started out with a loss to the MJDP, but turned it around to beat the Wooster Oilers (6-0), Lake Erie Bighorns (6-3) and in their extremely grand finale, they beat the host Islanders Hockey Club by a 2-0 score.
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers started with a win over the Bighorns, 4-2, but then fell the rest of the way to the MJDP, Bridgewater and Columbus.
New England Division
Two big stories out of the New England Division were the Bridgewater Bandits and Northern Cyclones, each of whom cleared all four games with wins as two of three 4-0 teams at the showcase.
The leading team in the division, the South Shore Kings, won 6-1 against the Twin City Thunder before shutting game action down for the remainder of November.
The Northern Cyclones leapfrogged the Boston Junior Bruins from third into second place by sweeping the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, pulling to within one point of the Kings for first. The Cyclones kicked off with a 2-1 OT win over the Pittsburgh Vengeance, and then came away with three straight 4-1 victories against the Minnesota Blue Ox, Minnesota Moose and Pueblo Bulls.
The Junior Bruins were just one overtime loss from sweeping their showcase action, by going 2-0-1-0 there. They had a game one day prior to the showcase, beating the Boston Advantage 3-1 on Nov. 17. The next day, they fell to the Minnesota Blue Ox 3-2 in overtime. They rebounded Friday with a decisive win over the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones and then closed out Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.
The Bandits kicked off with a decisive victory over the Rum River Mallards, and then beat the Connecticut Jr. Rangers 5-2. In two games against the Midwest West Division on Sunday, they beat the Hudson Havoc (3-1) and the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (1-0 in OT).
The Springfield Pics passed the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs to climb to fifth place on the strength of a 3-1 IHC Showcase run. The Pics defeated the MJDP, 4-3, then took their only loss to the Minnesota Mullets on Friday, 4-1. On Sunday, the Pics beat the Potomac Patriots (3-1) and Jersey Whalers (4-1).
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs went 2-1 prior to having to take a forfeit in their final game. They started with a massive victory against the Wooster Oilers, followed by a 4-3 loss to the Columbus Mavericks. They closed out with a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Vengeance.
The Twin City Thunder moved from ninth place to seventh with a 3-0-0-1 run at the showcase. After taking a pre-showcase 6-1 loss to South Shore, they beat the Minnesota Mullets (5-1), Minnesota Moose (1-0) and Wooster Oilers (6-1) before taking a 2-1 shootout loss to Wisconsin Rapids.
The Islanders Hockey Club had a rough showcase as hosts, falling to the Metro Jets, Charlotte Rush, Ogden Mustangs and P.A.L. Jr. Islanders.
The Boston Advantage’s last game played was Nov. 17, a 3-1 loss to the Junior Bruins.
Atlantic West Division
The leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Jr. Knights had taken their break earlier for the month of November, sitting on a 4-0 run after sweeping their limited action this month.
The Utica Jr. Comets, however, jumped into the IHC Showcase fray, going 2-2 along the way. They started Friday with a 4-3 loss to the Hudson Havoc, followed later that same day by a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Mullets. Their only Saturday game saw a 7-3 loss to Pueblo, but they rebounded in their Sunday finale with a decisive win over Rum River.
The Hershey Cubs further solidified their third place spot with four points in an 8-3, 3-0 sweep of the Buffalo Stampede.
The Elmira Jr. Enforcers’ struggles continued with a pair of losses to the New York Aviators.
Make sure to look for the more in-depth "The Breakdown: USPHL Premier" when it returns late next week!