To cap of a second successful season in the USPHL, the PAL Junior Islanders Premier team won three straight at the South Shore Kings Showcase in Foxboro, Massachusetts to top off a 10-game winning streak.
The trip to Foxboro saw the Junior Islanders defeat the Springfield Pics 2-1, edge past the South Shore Kings 3-2, and on Monday take down the Portland Junior Pirates with authority 5-1.
Uncommitted Goaltender Justin Ketola was huge once again in going 3-0-0 on the weekend and finishing the season 16-2-0. For the season, Justin kept his goals against average at 2.44 and posted a stellar save percentage of .939%. Ketola held opponents to 2 goals or less in 10 of his starts, including one shutout win against the Jersey Hitmen.
Joey Duszak (Mercyhurst) finishes the regular season leading the team in points with 57. The 17-year-old defenseman has proven himself among the top players in the USPHL this season as he leads all defensemen in goals (18) and points. Duszak is on a streak of 18 straight games with at least a point (32 points in that span) and is one of the hottest players in the league going into the USPHL playoffs.
Fellow Mercyhurst commits Tommaso Bucci, James Anderson, and Chris Makowski are on hot streaks of their own. Bucci, who led the Islanders in goals with 22, has 17 points during the 10-game winning streak. He's been an unstoppable force in both ends, logging big minutes and playing in all situations. Anderson's game has grown steadily since his successful rookie season last year. With 11 goals and 41 points James established himself as one of the key playmakers in the USPHL. Makowski's all-around game has improved significantly since last season, notching 15 goals and 36 points while showing his growth defensively and in his physical game.
Chris Wallace (Bowdoin College) has been sidelined with an injury but it's tough to ignore the contributions he's made to the Junior Islanders this season. With 19 goals and 44 points, the two-way forward finished the season fourth on the team in scoring while adding a veteran presence in the locker room and leading by example on every shift. Wallace's special teams play this season was inspiring, especially the willingness to block shots and work hard on the penalty kill all season.
Captain James Mazza, who will join Canisius College next season, has possibly not just been the best player on this team, but the best in the league. Mazza's 16 goals and 50 points are second only to Duszak among USPHL defensemen. Logging the most minutes on the team and being cast as the shutdown defender on the league's best forwards, Mazza is another player who leads by example both on and off the ice and personifies the identity of this PAL Junior Islanders group.
Though some teams behind in the standings have games in hand, the PAL Junior Islanders are currently sitting in fourth place and would host a first-round playoff series if the standings stay as they are. At 27-19-4 and 58 points, the Islanders are proud of a strong regular season and expect this form to carry into the playoffs.