Front runners widened their respective gaps in both the North and Mid-Atlantic USPHL Elite Divisions this past weekend with sweeps for both the Jersey Hitmen and New Hampshire Monarchs.
Both teams are threatening to wrap up their respective division titles, the Monarchs grabbing 3-1 and 13-1 wins at Springfield against the host Pics, while the Hitmen traveled to Brooklyn and defeated the New York Aviators 4-1 and 5-2.
Other North Division action saw a battle for second overall won by the Boston Bandits, who pulled ahead of the visiting Northern Cyclones with a 5-2 win. The Bruins moved into a fifth place tie with the Springfield Pics after sweeping the seventh place Jr. Wolfpack in a home and away set, 5-2 at Hartford Saturday and 13-0 on home ice Sunday.
The Cyclones also dropped another decision on home ice, 6-4 against the Islanders.
The other Mid-Atlantic Division series saw the New Jersey Rockets opening with a 5-1 win against the Team Beijing Shougang Eagles before Beijing grabbed a split with a road win of its own, 7-3 at the Bridgewater Sports Arena.
In the first game at Springfield, the Monarchs carried a slim 1-0 lead into the third period then carried a 2-1 margin out of the final period.
The following day it was all Monarchs, who carried a 1-0 lead out of the first, adding five in the second and six in the final period.
Mika Briere (’01, Magog, Que.) and Tyler Sutton (‘00/Denver, Colo.) both picked up three goals and two assists for the Monarchs on the weekend and Mark Kurlyandhik (‘01/Belarus) scored twice.
The Junior Bruins scored 18 times on the weekend, Matt Powers (‘02/Peabody, Mass.) counting four goals and a couple assists while Kris Cecere (‘98/Littleton, Mass.); Sean Cardello (‘00/Peabody, Mass.); Patrick McCarthy (‘99/Marlborough, Mass.) and Jonas Maissel (‘00/Port Washington, N.Y.) scoring two apiece.
Matthew Ayres (‘99/Long Beach, Calif.) picked up a 44-shot shutout in a crazy game Sunday that saw the teams combine on nearly 120 shots.
In the Islanders’ win, the Cyclones scored two of the first three, but the Isles carried a 3-2 lead out of the opening period. A pair of unanswered middle period tallies had the Isles up 5-1 and the Cyclones gained some consolation with a 2-1 edge through the final 20.
Six different shooters hit the sheet for the Islanders, Alex Ignatov (‘98/Moskva, Russia) scoring a pair for the Cyclones.
In its other game, the Cyclones scored once in the opening period to cut into a 3-0 Bandits’ lead and after a scoreless second, the Boston squad put it away with a 2-1 edge through the third.
Cam Gibbs (‘00/Weymouth, Mass) and Louis-Philippe Morin (Joliette, Que.) both scored twice for the Bandits.
The Hitmen scored the lone goal of the first period Saturday and owned a 3-0 lead after two, Hitmen and Aviators trading goals in the third.
On Sunday on home ice, the Hitmen scored two in both first two periods, the visitors holding a 2-1 margin down the stretch.
James Fusaro (‘00/Clifton, N.J.) scored twice in the second game for the Bandits with seven other players adding a goal on the weekend.
In the other Mid-Atlantic series, the Rockets were up 3-0 after 40 minutes and clinched the win with a 2-1 win in the third on the road.
The following day the Shougang Eagles flipped the script, breaking a 3-3 game open with a 3-1 edge through the second period and one more down the stretch.
Carson Wahlers (‘00/Berkeley Heights, N.J.) and Richie Modzelewski (‘99/Staten Island, N.Y.) both scored twice on the weekend for the Rockets, Bowen Zhu (’98) firing three in the second game for the Eagles.