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NCDC This Week: Hitmen capture Founders Cup, two other teams clinch playoff berths

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 02/18/19, 3:45PM EST

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Three teams are officially into the NCDC Playoffs, when they kick off in mid-March. 

The New Jersey Hitmen, with their Thursday win against the Boston Junior Bruins, clinched the first seed overall and will maintain home ice for as long as they remain in the playoffs. 

The Junior Bruins, despite that close 3-2 loss, clinched a playoff berth on Thursday as well, due to losses in the ranks below. After Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over the Rockets, the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs also clinched a playoff berth. 

Second place is still up for grabs, as are mostly every spot below that - no teams aside of the Hitmen are fully locked into a seed. 

 

Hitmen keep rolling, rolling, rolling 

When you can say that your team has lost just once since October, you know things are going well. The Hitmen are on an 8-0 winning streak going back to Jan. 27, after defeating the Junior Bruins (as aforementioned), the Boston Bandits (4-2) and the Islanders Hockey Club (4-1).

The Hitmen have authored two of the longest pure winning streaks this season. They won 19 in a row between Oct. 29 and Jan. 20, the Junior Bruins won 11 in a row earlier this year and the Hitmen have now won eight in a row. 

The Hitmen are one win away from 40 and one goal away from 200 scored on the season. The Hitmen have also doubled up in goals differential on the second place team in that category, the Junior Bruins, 112-56. 

Philip Elgstam continues his scoring streak into next weekend, standing at 19 games with 30 points over that time. 

 

Monarchs go clean out of showcase

Two very good things happened for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. One, they played very well and came out with a 3-0 record. Secondly, they pulled themselves to within four points of second place, currently occupied by the Junior Bruins. 

The Monarchs gave up just two goals in three games between Thursday and Friday. They started with a 3-1 win over the fourth-place Connecticut Jr. Rangers, followed by a 2-0 shutout of Rochester and a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Rockets. 

This is the second time this season the Monarchs have held opponents to three goals or less over three wins. On Dec. 7, they won 3-2 over the Junior Bruins, followed by a Dec. 14 7-0 win over the South Shore Kings and on Dec. 15 by a 3-1 win over the Junior Bruins. 

At the Hitmen Classic in October, they held three different opponents to three goals, but took a loss to the Rockets in the process. 

 

Rangers still have chance at third

The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs are off until Feb. 28, and the fourth-place Jr. Rangers have three games in that space between. With a 3-0 run in those three, they would tie the Monarchs in points at third.

After the Rangers’ loss to the Monarchs, they went on to pick up wins against the Boston Junior Bruins (6-4) and the South Shore Kings (4-2). Each of the Rangers’ games at the Showcase was decided by two goals - overall, they are 6-7 in games decided by two goals. 

With six points in his last four games, Brad Ong pulled even with one point per game on average (43 points in 43 games). 

 

Junior Bruins close out with win

After a tough couple games to start the South Shore Kings Showcase - the losses to the Hitmen and the Jr. Rangers - the Junior Bruins finished on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat of the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. With that win, the Junior Bruins were able to secure the season sweep of the Islanders. They are 3-0 against the Cyclones, whom they face in the final two games of the regular season March 8-9. 

Due to the two losses, the Junior Bruins’ lead at second place shrunk from eight points to four points, but they do have one game in hand on the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. 

 

Logjam remains between fourth and eighth

Since almost everybody beat everybody at the South Shore Kings Showcase, the movement between the fourth and eighth place spots in the NCDC remained the order of the day. 

  • The Islanders Hockey Club stood at fifth after the showcase just as they were going in, taking a 1-1-0-1 record in Foxboro. They started with a 4-3 shootout loss to Syracuse, and that was followed by a 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Rockets. They closed with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Hitmen. They are one point out of fourth place heading into this weekend. 
  • The Cyclones moved up a spot from seventh to sixth, and went on a roller-coaster over the weekend. They killed off a late four-minute penalty to win 4-2 over the Rockets on Thursday, followed by a rough 5-2 defeat to the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. They bounced back well, though, defeating the Syracuse Stars on Saturday for a 2-1 weekend. 
  • The Stars won their sixth and seventh games in a row with the shootout against the Islanders, and a 5-2 win over the South Shore Kings on Friday. The Cyclones got the best of them on Saturday, defeating Syracuse 3-2. 
  • The Boston Bandits currently reside at eighth place, falling from sixth before the showcase, after earning just two points in Foxboro. They started well enough with a 4-0 shutout of the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders on Thursday, but dropped their next to against the Hitmen (4-2) and in an upset to the 12th-place Rochester Jr. Monarchs, 7-4, on Saturday. 
  • In a crucial weekend for the New Jersey Rockets, they were only able to pick up a pair of points from the shootout loss against the Islanders hockey Club and a Saturday OT loss to the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. They are seven points out of eighth place, with eight games remaining with one game in hand apiece on the Bandits, Cyclones, Islanders Hockey Club and Rangers, all within 11 points. To say it’s desperation time for the Rockets is an understatement.

 

Final Showcase Records for 2018-19

New Jersey Hitmen: 15-2-0-0

Boston Junior Bruins: 13-3-1-0

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs: 10-7-0-1

Connecticut Jr. Rangers: 8-9-1-0

Islanders Hockey Club: 7-8-1-1

Syracuse Stars: 6-10-1-1

Northern Cyclones: 8-8-1-0

Boston Bandits: 9-6-0-2

New Jersey Rockets: 9-6-1-1

P.A.L. Jr. Islanders: 7-8-3-0

South Shore Kings: 8-10-0-0

Rochester Monarchs: 4-14-0-0