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By Dan Kmiechick, 03/10/15, 3:00PM EDT


After 275 USPHL Regular Season contests and two rounds of USPHL Playoff play the Dineen Cup Finals are finally set.  Beginning Wednesday March 11th and running through Friday March 13th, the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Hockey team will clash with the top-seeded Jersey Hitmen in a three-game set for the Cup.

The series will officially get underway Wednesday at 4:40pm, with game two on Thursday at 5:10pm and game three (if necessary), being played on Friday at 1:50 PM.  All three games will be played as part of the Beantown Classic, a high-profile and well-scouted annual event.  The host venue is the New England Sports Center, located in Marlboro, MA, just outside of Boston.

With the matchup set, the venue prepared and the players getting set to try and complete their "Quest for the Dineen Cup," it is time for the fans at home to get geared up with our Series Preview.


1.  The Flyers and Hitmen were the top scoring teams in the USPHL this season.  The Hitmen led the way with 273 goals scored and the Flyers finished second with 216.

2.  The Hitmen have won 20 consecutive contests, including regular season and postseason competitions.  Their last loss came in overtime against the PAL Jr. Islanders in a 1-0 goaltending duel.

3.  The Hitmen have not lost in regulation since November 23rd (26 consecutive games without a regulation loss), and that loss was handed to them by these Philadelphia Flyers, 7-4. 

4. The Flyers lost to the Hitmen twice in overtime and twice in regulation this season.  One of the two regulation losses was suffered with just four seconds remaining in regulation, on a power play goal by the Hitmen.

5.  Both teams have yet to lose a game in the USPHL Playoffs. 


Flyers lost the season series going 1-2-2 against the Hitmen, with three of the team's five matchups this year decided by just one goal.

November 21: FLYERS 3 Hitmen 4 OT

November 23: FLYERS 7 Hitmen 4

December 17: FLYERS 0 Hitmen 3

January 25: FLYERS 4 Hitmen 5 OT

February 4: FLYERS 4 Hitmen 5

Hitmen Players to Watch/Keys to the Finals:

1.  "Feeling Funkey:" To say that Chris Funkey has been dominant in net this postseason would be a severe understatement.  Funkey shut out the South Shore Kings for an entire series in the Semifinal Round while saving all 49 shots he faced.  Overall in the postseason, he is 4-0 with an 0.82 GAA.  In the regular season he was just as strong, leading the league in wins with 26.

2.  "Who You Laffin At?:" No one was Laffin at the incredible season Hitmen forward Michael Laffin put up this year.  Laffin ended the regular season as the league's leading point-getter with 91, as he tallied 30 goals and 61 assists.  In the postseason he is averaging more than a goal and an assist per game with 5 goals and 6 assists in just 4 contests.

3.  "Take Em to Schule:" Forward Patrick Schule has pieced together a magnificent 2014-2015 campaign.  His 80 points were the second-most in the USPHL and his 7 postseason points are tied for the third most by any Hitmen skater.

4.  "Back in the USSR:" The Hitmen have been so dominant this year it is hard to pinpoint five key players without feeling like a bevy of worthy candidates were left out.  Simply put, the closest resemblance to this Hitmen squad's dominance would be the unbeatable lineup put on the ice by the USSR in the late 70s and early 80s.  In the playoffs they have outscored opponents 31 to 3 in just four games.  In the regular season they led the league in goals scored and goals allowed, notching 273 goals and allowing only 117 in 50 games. 

5.  "Don't Make Henke, Cranky:" Forward Josh Henke is someone who will require a lot of attention from the Flyers defense all series long.  Henke has scored 5 playoff goals (tied for most on team), after finishing the regular season with 20.  Five of his 20 regular season goals were game winners, meaning Henke is a clutch offensive presence on a squad entering the Dineen Cup Finals.

FLYERS Players to Watch/Keys to the Finals:

1. "Mighty Joe Young:"  They say defense wins championships and the Flyers last line of defense in net will have to do just that.  The Hitmen are averaging nearly eight goals per game in these playoffs and have allowed less than one per game.  Joe Young, who is 4-0 this postseason with a 1.98 GAA and a shutout, will have to continue his stellar playoff run in order for the Flyers to capture the cup.  This series will pit the two best starting goalies from the regular season against one another in Penn State commit Chris Funkey and Union College commit Joe Young.  Look for play in net to play a major role in setting the tempo and momentum of game play in this series.

2. "Greco from the Get-Go:"  Thus far in the playoffs Ron Greco has been the jack-of-all-trades hero for this Flyers squad.  In the Quarterfinals he stood in the way of a multitude of shots playing a key role as a shot blocker in both Flyers wins.  In the semifinals he took control on the offensive side of the ice netting three goals and adding three assists, one of those being a game winner in the team's Game One double OT victory.  Greco leads the team in goals and points this postseason outright and is tied with Trevor Gooch for the team lead in postseason assists.

3. "Don't Rev Trev:" Trevor Gooch, the USPHL's goal scoring champ with 35 this season has been more of an assist-minded threat this postseason, earning two game winning assists in four games.  Gooch and his linemate Gregg Burmaster, both Colorado College commits, have been keyed on by defenses thus far in the playoffs.  This has allowed both to facilitate chances for center Bryan Owen, who has knocked home two huge game winning goals this postseason.  Look for Gooch to be more aggressive in these Finals, getting extra involved in his team's goal scoring attack.

4. "Score Early:" In these playoffs the Hitmen have yet to trail in any game.  This is because they are outscoring opponents 11-0 in the opening period of play.  The Flyers on the other hand have the overall lead in every playoff period except for the first, where they have tied opponents 4-4.  It will be important for the Flyers not to fall behind early against a team as talented at maintaining and adding to leads as the Hitmen.

5. "Chase the Cup:" Chase Hatcher will play a major role in the Flyers Dineen Cup hopes.  Hatcher, a mid-year addition to the club, has been very successful since joining the team.  He's scored two goals already this postseason, while providing extra size and physicality to the forward group of the Flyers.  Hatcher will have to make his presence felt if the Flyers want to upset the top-seeded Hitmen in the finals.

Now that the matchup is set and you have read up on what to expect and who to look out for in this week's series, all that is left to do is to sit back and watch.