Welcome to 2022, and with a new year comes also the bulk of the second half and the drive for the Dineen! The teams are back, with a Jan. 4 tilt featuring the Boston Junior Bruins defeating the South Shore Kings, 4-1, marking the return to action. There will be eight NCDC teams heading to the massive USPHL Winter Showcase, which kicks off Friday, while others will resume regional rivalries in their local areas as we see roughly two and a half months until playoffs kick off.
With that, let’s look at the teams that come into 2022 with at least a win in their most recent game.
Junior Bruins Kick Off New Year With Win To Regain North Lead
With their Tuesday victory, the Bruins moved one point in front of New Hampshire, but they have almost identical records. The Junior Bruins are at 14-10-2-2, and the Monarchs stand at 14-10-2-1, so the jockeying for position will be at prime position for entertainment certainly going forward. The two teams have each beaten each other once this year.
• Going into the Kings game, the Junior Bruins were even in regulation scoring in each period this year. In the first, they have been outscored by opponents, 22-23, they are even at 36-36 in the second and they are ahead 28-27 in the third periods for a total of 86-86. Overall, they are 86-90 with opponents scoring two goals each in overtime and two shootout goals. After the 4-1 win over South Shore, they are now behind by just one on the season, 90-91.
• They are also pretty close in shots, leading by a lead of 941-927.
• At 9.93 penalty minutes per game, the Junior Bruins are the second cleanest team in the league after the Islanders Hockey Club (8.67).
• Their victory over the Kings was their first in a game decided by three goals (1-2).
• Holy Cross recruit Joe Solimine’s 1-1-2 line against the Kings gives him a three-game scoring streak of 2-2-4. Defenseman Trey Scott’s assist was his third in three games, giving him an assist streak.
Jersey Hitmen Enjoying Seven-Game Point Streak And Sole Hold On First In South
The league-leading Jersey Hitmen finished their 2021 portion of the schedule with a 6-0-1-0 points streak, going back to November. Their only loss in December was 5-4 to their I-287 rivals the Rockets Hockey Club.
• Along with leading in points (18-7-2-0, 38 points), the Hitmen lead in many other categories as well - power play percentage (25.5), goals for per game (4.3), shots on goal per game (41.78), and they are in a three-way tie for best winning percentage when scoring first at .833 (12-2-1-0) with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Twin City Thunder.
• Patriks Marcinkevics starts the new year as the league’s leading scorer, and at 47 points, he has a healthy seven-point lead over his closest competition. Marcinkevics also leads in assists (32), power play assists (15) and power play points (21).
• Patriks and his twin brother Dominiks are tied for the league’s best active point streaks of seven games each, with 15 points within those streaks. Patriks’ 12 assists is also the longest active assist streak in the NCDC.
• Additionally, defensemen Sean Melso and Brandon Cimino are 1-2 in defenseman scoring at 28 and 25 points, respectively. Melso leads in assists with 22 and is tied in defenseman goals at six with the Islanders Hockey Club’s Andrew Carmody. Cimino is tied for first in power play goals with Twin City’s Ryan Hintz, and he has the sole lead in power play assists (10) and power play points (13).
• Defenseman Dakota Zarudny is tied for fifth in scoring among NCDC defensemen with 17.
• Goaltender Peyton Grainer is first in goals against average (2.27) and tied for first in wins (14). Grainer is fifth in save percentage (.928).
• Former Hitman Dylan Lugris had a five-game, six-point scoring streak going, but he has since moved on to Penn State, where he’s already registered his first NCAA goal. He left the Hitmen with 36 points in 26 games.
• Mateo Dixon has an active four-game, six-assist helper streak.
Rockets Enter 2022 On Three-Game Winning Streak
The aforementioned Rockets Hockey Club are riding high with a 3-0 run as they get ready for new games in a new year. After defeating the Hitmen 4-3 in OT on Dec. 11, they swept the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in a pair, winning 4-3 again in OT and then 3-0 to end 2021. They stand four points back of the Hitmen and three points back of the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. They get another shot at the Hitmen this Saturday in their return to game action.
• The Rockets stand second in goals for per game (3.68) and third in shots on goal per game (35.75).
• The team from Bridgewater, N.J., is also undefeated in regulation in one-goal games (6-0-2-2).
• Niagara University recruit Johnny Wescoe has a six-game point-scoring streak, in which he’s posted 4-11-15, all during the month of December’s contests. He’s also started a goal-scoring streak with three goals in his last two games.
• Barron Woodring has a four-game, seven-assist streak going that he’s carrying into Saturday’s marquee matchup.
Northern Cyclones Enter USPHL Winter Showcase After Winning Last Two
The Cyclones will hit the ice for Game 1 of 3 at the Winter Showcase when the league’s biggest event revs up starting this Friday. When they do so, they will come in as a confident bunch after ending 2021 with victories against their Friday opponents the Boston Advantage (3-2 on Dec. 11) and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (5-1 on Dec. 19). Their 26 points puts them at fifth place, but only six points out of the top spot.
• The Cyclones’ win over the Advantage was their first for the 2021-22 season in four tries. They are undefeated in regulation against their Granite State rivals the Monarchs (2-0-0-1).
• The Cyclones are completely even in second period shots this season with their opponents at 286-286.
• Northern is 5-0-0-1 when leading after one period and 2-0-0-0 when tied after two.
• Goaltender Kristoffer Eberly remains among the league leaders in many categories, including save percentage (.932, second), goals against average (2.47, fifth), saves (600, fifth) and shootout wins (two, second).
• Rhett Evjen posted three goals over the two games against the Advantage and Monarchs. Defenseman Brennan Dickey has three assists in his last two as well, and Massimo Pietroniro has 1-2-3 in the same span.
Around The Boards In The NCDC
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and the Philadelphia Hockey Club split a weekend series to end 2021, with the Islanders winning 6-1 and then PHC earning the 3-0 shutout victory.
• P.A.L. remains second in the South Division and in the NCDC overall with 37 points, while the PHC - nine points out of first - is not at all out of contention with nearly half a season still remaining.
• On Dec. 18, the Jr. Islanders’ Harrison Chesney stopped PHC’s Alexander Hollands on the league’s fifth penalty shot of the year. Only one penalty shot has been successful this year, when Cam Bergeman of the Rockets Hockey Club scored against Utica’s Sebastian Woods on Nov. 6.
• At 90 percent efficiency, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders lead in penalty killing.
• P.A.L. is first in team goals against at 2.39, and Philadelphia is second in shots against (32.41).
The Islanders Hockey Club defeated the Twin City Thunder, 3-2, on Dec. 17, and the THunder came back one night later to beat the Junior Bruins, 3-2.
• The Islanders are the league’s least-penalized team at 8.67 penalty minutes per game, a very good thing for a team that ranks 13th in penalty killing.
• The IHC leads in fewest shots on goal against, with just 31.67 shots reaching their net each game.
• The Twin City Thunder has the third-best team goals against average at 2.84.
• The Thunder are 9-1 when leading after one period and the same record applies when leading after two periods.
• The Islanders’ Johan Rosenquist enters 2022 on a four-game, seven-goal scoring streak, the league’s best active goal-scoring streak.
• Will Laychur’s four-assist streak over four games for IHC is among the league’s best helper streaks.
• Tristan Rand is on a 1-3-4 scoring streak over his last three games for the Thunder.
• South Shore Kings vs. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Jan. 6-7 - The Monarchs have an all-time series lead of 8-3-0-1, though the Kings have a 2-1 advantage this season.
• Northern Cyclones vs. Boston Advantage, Jan. 7 - The Cyclones are just four points ahead of the Advantage (26 vs. 22), and the Cyclones have a one-goal lead in total goals scored this year (70-69).
• Jersey Hitmen at Connecticut Jr. Rangers, Jan. 7 - The Hitmen took both games of a Dec. 4-5 series to improve their all-time record against the Rangers to 20-2-1-0.
• P.A.L. Jr. Islanders vs. Boston Junior Bruins, Jan. 8 - These two teams meet again in the same place as their Oct. 2 matchup, a 4-2 win for the Junior Bruins, as they get together at the New England Sports Center in the USPHL Winter Showcase.
• Philadelphia Hockey Club vs. Northern Cyclones, Jan. 8 - The Cyclones and Philadelphia will get together for their first matchup of 2021-22 after splitting two meetings at Hub City Tampa last year.
• Twin City Thunder vs. Boston Advantage, Jan. 8 - This season series has swapped winners over its three games already, with Twin City holding the 2-1 edge. They get together again at the USPHL Winter Showcase.
• Islanders Hockey Club vs. Utica Jr. Comets, Jan. 8 - The Islanders won at their IHC Showcase in November by a 5-4 score, to put the all-time series at 10-5-0-1 in their favor.
• Rockets Hockey Club at Jersey Hitmen, Jan. 8 - These two teams continue their Battle of I-287 not long after the Rockets defeated the Hitmen in OT 5-4 on Dec. 11.
• Twin City Thunder vs. Islanders Hockey Club, Jan. 9 - The Thunder won the first matchup of the season, but the Islanders countered with two 3-2 wins, one as recently as Dec. 17.
• Utica Jr. Comets vs. Boston Junior Bruins, Jan. 9 - The Jr. Comets won 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 1 at the Fall Beantown Classic in their only meeting so far this season.
• Boston Advantage vs. Philadelphia Hockey Club, Jan. 9 - The two new members of the NCDC in 2020-21 met on Oct. 7 at the Hitmen Classic and the PHC won a 2-0 game. That evened their all-time series at two regulation wins apiece.
• Connecticut Jr. Rangers vs. Rockets Hockey Club, Jan. 9 - The Rockets won their most recent series 4-3 in OT and 3-0 in regulation, after the Rangers won their first two meetings of the year in an overtime and a shootout. The Rangers hold the all-time series lead at 15-7-2-0.
• P.A.L. Jr. Islanders vs. Northern Cyclones, Jan. 9 - The Jr. Islanders won a Halloween meeting at the Fall Beantown Classic by a 5-2 score in their most recent meeting.
• Utica Jr. Comets vs. Twin City Thunder, Jan. 10 - Monday morning NCDC action at the USPHL Winter Showcase kicks off with a match between two teams who last met on Nov. 19 at the IHC Showcase, resulting in a 2-1 Utica win.
• Boston Junior Bruins vs. Philadelphia Hockey Club, Jan. 10 - Philadelphia’s overtime win at the Hitmen Classic gives them a 2-1 all-time series lead.
• Islanders Hockey Club vs. P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, Jan. 10 - Closing out the USPHL Winter Showcase NCDC action is Isles vs. Isles, in which the IHC owns an 11-5-1-0 all-time series lead.
Drop the pucks!