By Marlee Bulman and Joshua Boyd / USPHL.COM
The NCDC Southern division had a great start to the regular season. The Utica Jr Comets and Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights made their NCDC debut. Mercer won their opener by a 3-2 score in a shootout.
Jersey Hitmen (3-0-0-0)
To no one’s surprise, the Jersey Hitmen are leading the division. As four-year back to back champions, they have their strategy down to a science. Last year they ended the regular season posting a 35-14-0 record and lifted their second Dineen Cup in a row.
In their first game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, the Hitmen took the win in overtime 3-2. Their second game, also a victory over the Knights, was a 3-2 victory, and Sunday’s game being a 5-0 shutout.
Newcomer Tyler McNeil – a success story who moved up from the USPHL Premier’s Fresno Monsters – scored three goals and added two assists for the Hitmen.
- The Hitmen take on the Northern Cyclones and Twin City Thunder on either side of a Dineen Cup Finals rematch against the Boston Junior Bruins. They will face the Junior Bruins yet again on Oct. 6 hosting their own Hitmen Classic event.
Connecticut Jr Rangers (2-1-0-0)
The Junior Rangers have rocketed from being 12th in the league last year to starting off second in their division.
They started off with a three-game match-up against the Utica Jr Comets. Taking the win for the first two games 4-2 and 4-3. Utica picked up Sunday’s game in a close 5-4 victory.
Jack Arizo and Billy Sheilds each scored three goals and three assists, and two goals and four assists, respectfully.
- The Junior Rangers will join many of the other teams at the BJB Shootout in stringing the two showcases back to back. They face the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, South Shore Kings and Northern Cyclones this weekend.
P.A.L Jr Islanders (1-0-0-1)
The P.A.L Jr Islanders faced the Mercer Chiefs, losing 3-2 in a shootout, but they took home the win in a shootout against the Rockets, 4-3, with Jack Hewitt scoring 2 goals 1 assist.
- This was the first time the Jr. Islanders have started a season with two shutouts, but their second time since the inaugural season of 2017-18 that they began with a shootout. The former Syracuse Jr. Stars (now Utica Jr. Comets) won the shootout in their first-ever NCDC game on Sept. 16.
- Another team going from the BJB Shootout to the Hitmen Classic, the Jr. Islanders will have a schedule featuring the Twin City Thunder, South Shore Kings and Boston Junior Bruins.
Twin City Thunder (2-0-0-0)
Maine’s Thunder started with their best two-game season kickoff since their inaugural season of 2019-20. They defeated the Junior Bruins, 4-3 and 5-2, in their first road trip of the season. Like many teams this weekend, they will play their first set of three games at their first of two straight showcases, this first one being the BJB Shootout.
- The Thunder have jumped out with 11 point-scorers in their first two games.
- They draw the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, Rockets Hockey Club and Jersey Hitmen at the BJB Shootout between Saturday (Oct. 1) and Monday (Oct. 3).
Boston Advantage (1-0-0-0)
The Advantage have gone 2-for-3 on season openers and also avenged a season-opening loss to the Junior Bruins last year by posting a 5-1 score on Sept. 22. Luke Panchisin and Arik Altman each had three-point performances in their opener.
- The Advantage will make their first-ever trip to face the Mercer Chiefs for a pair of games on Oct. 1-2 and will remain in New Jersey for the Hitmen Classic starting Oct. 6.
Islanders Hockey Club (1-1-0-0)
The Islanders are completely even in wins, losses, goals for and goals against. They started with a 2-1 win over the South Shore Kings on Sept. 22 and fell by a 3-2 score to the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Sept. 27.
- The Islanders make their way south ahead of their appearance in the Hitmen Classic, playing the WBS Knights for a pair of games on Oct. 2 and 3.
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (1-1-0-0)
The Monarchs are in the same position as the IHC, winning one, losing one, and staying even in goals with five for and five against. They fell to the Northern Cyclones 3-2 on Sept. 23 in their opener and won 3-2 over the Islanders four days later.
- The Monarchs have already seen 11 players earn at least one point in their first two games of the year.
- It’s the Rangers, Rockets and Jr. Comets on the schedule between Sept. 30 and OCt. 2 – and a trip to the Ice Vault for the Hitmen Classic the following weekend.
Northern Cyclones (1-1-0-0)
Their Sept. 23-24 weekend showed the two sides of the coin. A 3-2 victory over the Cyclones was followed by a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the South Shore Kings.
- The Cyclones face the Rockets Hockey Club, Jersey Hitmen and Connecticut Jr. Rangers from Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, before an 11-day break ahead of their next game on Oct. 13.
South Shore Kings (1-1-0-0)
The string of .500 starts continued to the Kings. After a 2-1 loss to the Islanders on Sept. 22, they came back two days later at 6-3 against the Northern Cyclones. Jack Hillier (3-1-4) and Kotaro Murase (1-3-4) lead the way offensively for the Kings.
- Another double-showcase team, the Kings have lined up the Rangers, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Utica Jr. Comets between this upcoming Saturday and Monday.