Isles one win from Dineen Cup
4-2 win against Hitmen in series opener
By Jim den Hollander
Two goals in just over 90 seconds lifted the Islanders Hockey Club into a lead it wouldn’t relinquish Friday (March 30) afternoon at the Lawler Arena against the Jersey Hitmen.
A clincher, scored early in the third clinched a 4-2 win for the Isles who now sit one win away from repeating last season’s USPHL Dineen Cup Championship.
But don’t expect the Hitmen to just step aside in the National Collegiate Development Conference series. While the win for the Islanders is its fifth straight in the post season and 15th straight overall, the Hitmen have gone the three-game distance in both of its previous playoff sets.
The Hitmen opened the scoring just before the halfway mark of the period as Erlends Klavins, from Riga, Latvia hit the net from a tough angle, shooting from the left side about 10 feet away right from the goal line. Assists on that marker went to Ryan Finnegan, from Tecumseh, KS, on his way to Quinnipiac in the fall and Tanner Palocsik, a native of Alquippa, PA.
The Hitmen doubled its margin with 1:35 to play in the opening period as Jeff Losurdo, from Elmhurst, IL who led the league in scoring through the regular season got to the rebound after a three-on-two rush into the zone for the goal in his first game back since being sidelined in the opening round of the post season. Losurdo has committed to attend Dartmouth after his junior career
Assists went to Tyler Coffey, from Hamilton, NJ (committed to Colorado College) and Tyler Carangelo, from Hamden, CT.
The Islanders finally found a way past Kristofer Carlson, from Centreville, VA in the Hitmen goal with a last minute powerplay marker scored by defenseman Matt Dillon, from Shrewsbury, MA. Dillon faked a slapshot through a crowd, instead moving to his right and firing a quick wrister just over the glove of Carlson from the hashmarks. Assists on that tally went to Jeremie Lavallee, from Montreal, QC and Lucas Michaud, from Portland, ME.
Both Carlson and Justin Ferguson, the Islanders’ goaltender from Hudson, NH, were well-tested early on, the Islanders holding a slim 11-10 edge in shots from the opening 20 minutes.
The Islanders grabbed control of the contest with two goals in 91 seconds late in the second period.
Oskari Halme, a defenseman from Tampere, Finland one-timed a cross ice feed from Mark Gallant, a forward from Concord, MA and already committed to attend Colgate, from just inside in the blue line with 1:53 to go in the middle period. Also collecting an assist was Mark Cheremeta from Parkland, FL.
Justin Pearson started and finished the goal that put the Isles into the lead for the first time, 23 seconds from the end of the period. After a Hitmen giveaway, Pearson led the charge over the line on a three-on-one play, getting the puck across to Lavallee who returned it across the goalmouth. Carlson had no chance as he slid across to stop a shot by Lavallee. That left an open side of the goal for Pearson who slammed it home as he skated past the goalpost.
The Isles again held the narrow shots edge through the middle stanza, this time with a 10-9 margin.
Defenseman Nick Parody, from Harrisburg, PA wired a slapshot through the pads of Carlson from just inside the blue line on the left side 3:57 into the third period and just a minute or so after the Hitmen saw a goal called back on a high stick.
Assists went to Jonathan Young, from Pelham, NH and Hunter McCoy, from Newburyport, MA.
Ferguson has been the only goaltender for the Islanders through the post season, picking up the win with a 23-save effort while Carlson who has also faced every shot in the playoffs, stopped 26 shots for the Hitmen.
The Islander could wrap up the title Saturday with a 4 pm (EDT) start while the Hitmen will be looking to once again push the series to its three-game limit. If needed, the third game would go on Easter Sunday, starting at 2pm (EDT).