The United States Premier Hockey League is back for its second year of the tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference, which saw a great first year with more than 120 college commitments from what was then an 11-team league.
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs join the NCDC team for this season, and all 12 teams are chomping at the bit to make Year 2 even bigger and better than last year’s successful inaugural season.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Did not qualify for playoffs
Outlook: The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders hit the ice for 2018-19 with a new coaching staff including Eric Conway as head coach, assistant coach Chris Stemke and Player Development Coach Rob Scuderi. Scuderi won two Stanley Cups as an NHL player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and L.A. Kings.
"I'm excited about the skills we possess, the legs we have, and the potential we show. It will help create the fast/skilled identity that I want to implement," said Conway, who has been a coach in the P.A.L. organization for many years and has led the Isles' U18 program to New York state championships.
Top returners: The Jr. Islanders have a wealth of on-ice lieutenants, in terms of returning leaders. The group of ’98’s Brendan Prappas, Alex Kolowrat, Mike Perrone, Devin Joyce and Nick Vukota, and ’99 Noah Kane played lots of NCDC minutes last season and will be strong locker room voices for the newcomers.
Top newcomers: The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have brought in players that the coaching staff expects will execute their roles and become a big part of the 2018-19 squad. Michael Colella (’99) is a big-time playmaker joining from Team Comcast’s 18U squad, and Caden Halverson (’99) joins from the Dallas Stars 18U team as a proven goal-scorer. Tanner Derby (’98) adds much to the defense from Berwick Academy.
The Islanders also feature recent Brown University commit Jacob Zacharewicz ('01) entering the crease, fully prepared to give NCDC forwards nightmares all year.