It’s the National Collegiate Development Conference in 2018-19, so that means nothing lasts for very long.
While the constant remains the New Jersey Hitmen being amazing and beginning to pull away from the pack, there were weekend sweeps by three of the bottom six teams in the standings over the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 weekend. Teams that needed wins - badly - got them and may be looking at second half pushes to make the top six very nervous.
Well, that really makes things interesting - the Syracuse Stars picked up the weekend sweep over none other than the second place Boston Junior Bruins.
It was a little sweet vengeance for a Stars team that had fallen to the Junior Bruins, 6-2, two weeks earlier at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase.
After a Nov. 3-4 sweep of the Islanders Hockey Club, Syracuse had fallen in their next five before this past weekend. They won this past weekend largely by committee, as 11 different Stars registered points against the Junior Bruins, including a Sunday hat trick by Mathieu Gervais.
The sweep pushed Syracuse into the eighth and final playoff spot as they head into a bye weekend before facing Rochester Dec. 15-16 to close out the 2018 portion of their schedule.
Cyclones send Rockets reeling
The Northern Cyclones sat in 12th place at the Thanksgiving break, but moved to 10th after a huge weekend sweep over the New Jersey Rockets, who are now tied for third with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
The Cyclones won back-to-back games for the first time this season, defeating the Rockets by scores of 3-1 on Saturday and 6-5 on Sunday, presented as the NCDC HockeyTV Game Of The Week.
Despite the sweep, the Rockets are able to hold onto third, though they officially have company in the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
Rocking in Rochester
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs eked out one point to get into that aforementioned third place tie, but the bigger story was the four-point weekend by Rochester.
The Rochester Jr. Monarchs defeated New Hampshire, 5-2, on Friday evening. The next day, Rochester came back from being down 4-2 to win 6-5 in overtime, off the stick of Anthony Scanzuso. The OT winner was assisted by Zack Mazur who also had a hat trick.
That was the Rochester Jr. Monarchs’ first OT win of the season and they are only 1-1 in extra time. Rochester is one of five teams that have only made it to OT once or less - P.A.L. has only been involved in one extra mini-period.
This was the Rochester Monarchs’ first sweep since two wins Oct. 13-14 against P.A.L. The Monarchs had won two in a row at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase just before the Thanksgiving break, but lost their third game in that showcase.
However, at 4-1 in their last five, Rochester is a team that bears watching from here on out.
Hitmen extend ‘W’ streak to nine
The New Jersey Hitmen bottled up that sour taste they felt after an Oct. 28 loss to the Junior Bruins during the Beantown Classic. They keep it around to remind themselves that they don’t want to sense that again, and they haven’t - they’ve now won nine in a row, their latest weekend sweep coming against the South Shore Kings.
The Hitmen scored 13 goals this past weekend, and they’re having the kind of season where that’s not even their season high for two straight games against the same opponent. They had scored 17 three weeks earlier. Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 2, the Hitmen scored 46 goals in eight games, an average of 5.75 per contest.
With 99 this season, the Hitmen are quickly closing in on the Junior Bruins for most goals (102). Right now, however, the Hitmen have the lead they want, in points - 42 to 36.
Islanders rising quickly
If the Islanders Hockey Club continue as they have played lately, there will be yet another team shaking up the standings on a weekly basis. The Islanders swept the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and have now won three in a row and four of their last five.
The defending Dineen Cup champions started out with essentially a new club top to bottom, outside of a few veterans including defenseman and Maine commit Jack Moran. It showed as they went 2-3-1 in September.
The weekend sweep helped move the Islanders up one spot to seventh in what is becoming a very crowded middle group between third (30 points) and ninth (22).
Rangers win a pair
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers are one of the multitudes of NCDC teams that have seen their fortunes rise, fall and rise again like the stock market.
The Jr. Rangers bumped back up above .500 for the first time since Oct. 27, after picking up a pair of close W’s against the Boston Bandits last weekend. Their five points also pushed them up one spot into sixth place entering the second weekend of December. The Rangers exploded for 13 goals this past weekend, their highest two-game weekend total and just shy of their three-game total of 15 from the Boston Junior Bruins Shootout (Sept. 22-24).
Their 8-4 win on Sunday also a first for the Rangers this season - double hat tricks, registered by Takato Cox and Philip Ekberg.
Rochester travels to face the Connecticut Jr. Rangers for the weekend, with Saturday’s game being the NCDC Free GameOfTheWeek on HockeyTV.com. Both teams come off 2-0 weekends, but in the shootout era, that’s only possible for one squad.
The Junior Bruins have a busy week ahead, facing the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Friday, and the Islanders Hockey Club on both Sunday and Wednesday. Also, in an unusually busy Wednesday in the NCDC, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers face the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and the New Jersey Rockets visit the Hitmen.
P.A.L. also visits the Hitmen on Sunday, and the South Shore Kings and Cyclones do a Saturday-Sunday home-and-home pair.
Veteran Islanders Hockey Club defenseman Nick Parody committed to Canisius College on Tuesday. Former South Shore Kings goaltender Matt Ladd also committed to Canisius.
Jersey Hitmen: Connor Clifton (2011-12) is now up to eight games in the NHL, and has registered 11 penalty minutes. Check out USPHL.com for an exclusive video interview by our own James Murphy with Connor, who talks about his days with the Hitmen.
Junior Bruins: Charlie Kelleher (2013-16) is on a four-game point streak for the University of New Hampshire, and he now has 11 points through 11 games for the Wildcats.
Connecticut Jr. Rangers: Drew Hickey (2016-18) made his NCAA debut for the University of New Hampshire against Providence on Nov. 30 and was back in the lineup the next night, also against Providence. Over his first weekend, he registered a shot on goal and two blocked shots.
Michael Gurska (2016-18) scored his first NCAA goal for Wilkes University. It was the OT game-winning goal in a 5-4 OT win at Neumann University. Jack Bloem (2017-18) has racked up six points in his first nine NCAA games for SUNY-Potsdam.
Islanders Hockey Club: The night of Nov. 30 was a landmark evening for alumni from the Islanders Hockey Club. Former Islanders faced each other in the University of Maine vs. University of Vermont game, with Maine’s Brendan Robbins (2011-15) scoring Maine’s lone goal in regulation leading to an OT win. Vermont’s Ace Cowans (2015-16) had two shots in the game.
Zach Mirageas (2014-16) earned two assists in an Air Force Academy win. Brendan vanRiemsdyk scored a shorthanded goal for UNH in its tie against Providence.
Six former Islanders appeared in the Becker vs. Salve Regina game on Friday, with Louix-Felix St-Jean (2017-18) notching his first collegiate shutout for Salve Regina.
Check out the full list of Nov. 30 accomplishments by former Islanders at https://www.islandersusphl.com/news_article/show/973539.
Northern Cyclones: Former NCDC Cyclones player Phil Erickson (2017-18) was named the United Collegiate Hockey Conference Rookie Of The Week. He was also named the Middle Athletic Conference Offensive Player Of The Week. To earn both awards, he scored three third period goals over the weekend for Wilkes University in come-from-behind victories against first Manhattanville and then Neumann.
Sage Englund (2017-18) scored his first collegiate goal for Salve Regina against Becker on Nov. 30.