The USPHL Winter Showcase was a big part of the start of the 2022 portion of this 2021-22 season. One team in particular, the Twin City Thunder, made the best of the opportunity, winning all three of their games at the showcase. Joining with a win to close 2021, they are on a league-best active 4-0 winning streak.
None of the other NCDC teams have won more than their most recent game, but the races in both the North and South Divisions remain tighter than ever. One point separates the top two teams in the South, and coincidentally, in the NCDC as a whole. The North Division-leading Junior Bruins - at 36 points as of Wednesday morning - are only four points back of the league-leading Jersey Hitmen, and three back of the second place P.A.L. Jr. Islanders.
Thunder Bring The Noise To Jump Into Second In The North
Twin City started with wins of 7-5 and 4-3 against the Boston Advantage and Islanders Hockey Club, respectively, before going up against the Utica Jr. Comets on Monday. The Jr. Comets are just five points behind the Hitmen at this point. Twin City completed the showcase sweep, the only team to do so, with a 6-3 victory.
• The Thunder’s 4-0 run is their best streak of the season so far, and their best since Nov. 14-22, 2019, when they also went 4-0 just after their launch as an NCDC program.
• The Thunder are the third-cleanest team in the NCDC, averaging just 9.96 penalty minutes per game, one of three NCDC teams to average under 10 minutes per game.
• In shootouts, the Thunder have the number one lowest goals against with a 1-for-9 rate.
• With 23 power play goals in 96 attempts, the Thunder’s 24 percent success rate is second best in the NCDC.
• The Thunder are the only NCDC team with a zero differential in shots for vs. shots against, with 950 of each. Their 33.64 shots against per game are fourth in the league (33.64 goals for is eighth).
• The Auburn, Maine squad is third in goals against in the league with 2.93.
• Tyler Healey and Tristan Rand’s matching three-game goal-scoring streaks (all at the Winter Showcase) are good for a tie for first in the league. Healey has five in three and Rand has three in three. Rand’s 4-5-9 line over six games is tied for the second-longest points streak in the NCDC.
• Healey moved into a four-way tie for first in game-winning goals with four.
Junior Bruins Start 2022 With 3-1 Record To Hold Onto First In North
The Junior Bruins matched Twin City with three wins in this new year, though they also played one more game than the Thunder, that being a loss. Even still, they remain the team to beat in the North. They got back to action on Jan. 4 with a 4-1 win over South Shore, ahead of the USPHL Winter Showcase.
At the Showcase, they defeated the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (4-1) and Philadelphia Hockey Club (3-1) on either side of a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Utica. They are now off until meeting South Shore in a Wednesday, Jan. 19, rematch.
• Their defeat of Philadelphia falls right in line with their league-best success rate in two-goal games (8-2-0-0).
• The Junior Bruins have the tightest total goal differential (including shootout goals) at +2, or 98-96.
• With a 9-5-1-1 record as the away team, the Junior Bruins are best in the league on the guest bench.
• At 9.61 penalty minutes per game, the Junior Bruins have the lowest PIM in the league.
• Holy Cross recruit Joe Solimine is first in longest assist streak with five games in which he’s posted five assists. He’s also tied for second longest overall points streak with six games (2-5-7).
• Solimine is on many league leaderboards, including points (40, fourth), assists (27, fifth), power play assists (14, second), power play points (18, second). He is also the league leader in shorthanded points, with four.
• With his most recent three wins, Colin Winn is tied for first in, well, wins. He has 14 now on the season. He is the sole leader in shutouts with three, minutes (1,589) and saves (800).
• Army recruit Jude Brower’s power play goal against Philadelphia put him into a three-way tie for first in PPG’s by a defenseman. He is third in power play points (10), and tied for second in game-winning goals (two).
Jersey Hitmen Go 1-1, Remain In First Overall And In South
The Jersey Hitmen took a 7-4 loss to Connecticut in their first game back from the holiday break, but rebounded quickly the next day to defeat the I-287 rivals the Rockets Hockey Club by a 5-2 score. They saw the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders go 1-2 at the USPHL Winter Showcase, so they were able to remain in first when the dust settled.
• At a league best 10-4-2-0, the Hitmen are first when they’re the home team. They are also first at 13-2-1-0 when scoring the first goal of a game.
• The Hitmen’s 25 percent success rate on the power play (40-for-160) is also No. 1 in the NCDC.
• The Hitmen are also first in goals for (125) and shots for (1,212) as well as per-game averages in both categories (4.31 and 41.79).
• Twin brothers Patriks and Dominiks Marcinkevics are both on matching nine-game point streaks of 19 points apiece. Mateo Dixon and Dominiks Marcinkevics both have four-game assist streaks, with six and seven, respectively. Patriks is in a four-way tie for longest goal streak at three games (five goals).
• Dakota Zarudny stands first in goals by an NCDC defenseman with nine on the season. Sean Melso is tied for second with six.
• Melso is the points leader among NCDC defensemen with 29, three ahead of teammate and Bentley recruit Brandon Cimino. Melso and Cimino are also first and second in assists, with 23 and 21, respectively. Cimino leads in power play assists (11) and power play points (14).
Around The Boards In The NCDC
The South Shore Kings started the year with the aforementioned loss to the Junior Bruins but came back two days later to defeat the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, 4-2. South Shore also defeated the Boston Advantage on Wednesday, Jan. 12 by a 6-1 score.
• The Kings are first in the league when leading after one period (8-0-0-0) and tied for first when leading after two periods (7-0-0-0, tied with P.A.L.)
• The Kings are also third in goals per game (3.60).
• Jakub Teply’s four game-winning goals are in a four-way tie for first in the league.
• Timothy Heinke is tied for second in NCDC goals with 19.
The Boston Advantage won two games at the showcase and lost one, allowing them to at least keep a four-point lead over the seventh-place Islanders Hockey Club in the North Division. They beat the Northern Cyclones 3-1, lost to the Thunder 7-5 and defeated Philadelphia, 5-2.
• Goaltender Connor Bradford is third in minutes played (1,361), fifth in saves (687) and tied for second with two shutouts. He is also one of two goaltenders to face two penalty shots and stop both.
• Both of defenseman Connor Lally’s goals this year are game-winners, placing him in a league-wide tie for second in that category.
• Arik Altman scored in all three showcase games and posted five points overall for the weekend.
Connecticut split their weekend of games, defeating the Hitmen 7-4 and falling to the Rockets by a 4-2 score.
• With goals in each of his last two games, Andrei Levushkin is fourth in goals with 18. Derek Manzella is fourth in saves (697).
• Connecticut has given up just one shorthanded goal this year, leading the league.
• Their 36.79 shots on goal per game are good for second in the league.
The Northern Cyclones won one of their three showcase games, defeating the Philadelphia Hockey Club, 6-4. They fell to the Advantage (3-1) and P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (3-2). They remain in fifth in the North Division and their lead over sixth has not shrunken from two points.
• Goaltender Kristoffer Eberly is fourth in save percentage with a .927 mark.
• At 9-5-0-1, the Cyclones have the league’s third best record as the home team.
• Pavel Karasek, returning for his fourth NCDC season, had two goals and two assists for four points at the USPHL Winter Showcase, scoring in all three games.
The Utica Jr. Comets went 2-1 at the USPHL Winter Showcase, and they stand at fifth in the entire league at 35 points overall. Starting Saturday at the showcase, they won 6-4 against the Islanders Hockey Club and 3-1 against the Junior Bruins before falling 6-3 to Twin City.
• Utica’s John Gutt, who just passed his 200th overall USPHL game (including years in the USPHL Midget and Premier divisions), moved into a tie for second in league scoring with 41 points in 33 games. A Utica College recruit, Gutt is also third in assists with 30. He had a team-leading 2-4-6 line at the USPHL Winter Showcase.
• Defenseman Domenick Evtimov finished with 2-2-4 in his final two games in Marlborough, Mass., and Army recruit Owen Carlile had 2-2-4 over the three games.
The Rockets Hockey Club, Jersey Hitmen and Connecticut Jr. Rangers all took one win over another, with the Rangers beating the Hitmen, the Hitmen beating the Rockets and the Rockets beating the Rangers over the weekend. The Rockets, in fourth one month ago, jumped over Utica by one point into third. After their 5-2 loss to the Hitmen, they beat the Rangers 4-2 on Sunday.
• The Rockets are second in goals for per game (3.77) and third in shots for per game (36.47).
• Cole Vallese has three points over each of his last three games, while teammate Tyler Dysart registered a 1-2-3 line against the Rangers.
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders got one win, a 3-2 defeat of the Northern Cyclones on Sunday, but also came from Massachusetts with losses to the Junior Bruins (4-1) and the Islanders Hockey Club (3-2).
• Goalie Harrison Chesney has stopped the last two consecutive penalty shots in the league, on Dec. 18 against Philadelphia’s Alexander Hollands and Jan. 10 against the Islanders Hockey Club’s Aaron Schwartz.
• Tyler Crist stands in first overall in the NCDC in goals with 22, and is the only player to have crossed the 20-goal mark so far.
• Spencer Korona leads the league in assists with 33 in 31 games.
• Goaltender Cam Smith still leads the league in save percentage with a .932 mark.
The Islanders Hockey Club made it so that 12 of 13 NCDC teams started the first 10 days of 2022 with at least one win. After falling to the Comets and Thunder, they came back with a 3-2 win over the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders on Monday.
• With three power play assists of his four total on the showcase weekend, Andrew Carmody moved into a tie for fourth in power play points by a defenseman with nine. He is also the league leader in GWG’s by a defenseman with three.
• Aaron Schwarz’ penalty shot on Monday against the P.A.L.’s Harrison Chesney was the second this year for the IHC, leading the league in that category. Patrik Somerville also took an unsuccessful penalty shot on Nov. 19, that one being the only OT penalty shot this year.
• New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs at Utica Jr. Comets, Jan. 13-14 - This will be the first meeting since two Hub City Tampa games last year, both won by Utica. The Jr. Comets (and their predecessors the Syracuse Stars) hold a 7-3-0-0 all-time series lead.
• Twin City Thunder at P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, Jan. 14-15 - The two current second place teams clash at Northwell Health Ice Center on Long Island. P.A.L., which won all three Hub City Tampa meetings last year, holds a 5-2-0-0 all-time series lead.
• Islanders Hockey Club at Jersey Hitmen, Jan. 14-15 - The first meeting of these two traditional powers; they both played a hard three-game series for the Dineen Cup in 2018, won by the Islanders. The Hitmen are up 11-5-1-1 in the all-time regular season series.
• Northern Cyclones at Rockets Hockey Club, Jan. 14-15 - These two teams will play their games as double-headers, first at the Bridgewater Sports Arena on Saturday and at the Ice Vault on Sunday, with the Hitmen and Islanders. The Cyclones hold the all-time series lead at 10-4-0-1.
• South Shore Kings at Philadelphia Hockey Club, Jan. 15-16 - These two teams split their only two meetings ever, both at Hub City Tampa last year.
• Connecticut Jr. Rangers at Boston Advantage, Jan. 15-16 - The Rangers won both of their Hub City Tampa meetings, the first in OT.
Drop The Pucks!