By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The standings in the Atlantic Division are not very close, but overall across the NCDC, the reigning champion P.A.L. Jr. Islanders hold a very slim one-point lead. After the South Shore Kings had jumped ahead by one point ahead of the former leaders the Islanders Hockey Club on Friday evening, the Jr. Islanders came off of a Thursday win against the Rockets Hockey Club to complete a Thursday-and-Saturday sweep against RHC with a 6-4 win. That gave them a record of 11-1-1-1 and 24 points, one point ahead of the South Shore Kings and two points ahead of the Islanders Hockey Club. The Ogden Mustangs, at 9-1-1-1, are the only other team to have hit the 20-point mark so far this year as we finish the first full month of competition.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Sweep Push Defending Champs To Top Of Leaderboard
Now that the 10-0 run of the Islanders Hockey Club has ended, the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have the longest active winning streak at six games. The Islanders won 2-1 on Oct. 25 and took a 6-4 victory two days later. They have not lost a game, over three straight two-game home-and-home weekends against divisional opponents, since their second Dineen Cup rematch this year against the South Shore Kings (a 4-1 loss on Oct. 7).
- The Jr. Islanders’ 24 points and 11-1-1-1 record is their best in their NCDC history after 14 games going back to the inaugural season of 2017-18. Earning 19 points through 14 in both 2021-22 and 2019-20 set the standard, and now that has been left in the dust.
- The Jr. Islanders remain undefeated when leading after one period (10-0) and after two periods (11-0). No surprise, they also have more first goals of games – four more than anyone else – with 13, and their record is 11-1-1-0 when scoring first.
- P.A.L. has put together a good shooting gallery, placing second in shots per game at 41.71. They also have the league’s third-best offense (3.79 goals per game) and are tied for second in defense (2.14 team GAA).
- Rookie Ryan Kearney, an ‘04 forward, has the league’s second-longest active points streak with nine points in his last eight games off a 5-4-9 line.
- Coleson Hanrahan, ranked third in points among defensemen with 13, is tied for second in defenseman assists with 11.
- Goaltender Nicholas Bevilacqua has been dominant in essentially every area of goaltending. He is tied for the league lead in wins, he has the most minutes (738) and most saves (438) and his save percentage of .946 is good for second in the league.
- Captain Ty Broad played his 100th career regular season NCDC game on Oct. 27, which was his 80th with the Jr. Islanders. Broad is the 62nd NCDC player to hit the century mark in games. He remains the NCDC’s leading scorer for 2023-24 with 24 points in 14 games, and his 18 assists also lead the NCDC.
Kings End Islanders Hockey Club Streak, Leapfrog Into New England Lead
One gets the feeling that at least for the foreseeable future, the Islanders Hockey Club and South Shore Kings will be switching off the New England Division lead. For now, the latest round between the two teams saw the Kings earn wins of 4-0 and 4-1 on Oct. 26 and 27.
- The Kings won two games in a row against the Islanders Hockey Club for the first time since winning their last three match-ups of the 2021-22 regular season.
- South Shore is the only team to have not been out-shot in a game by the end of October. Not surprisingly, they lead the league in shots on goal per game (43.64), but the D also gets the job done on the other end with a league-best 28.57 shots against per game.
- The Kings remain the top offensive team with an average of 4.29 goals per game, and they are tied for second in team defense (2.14 GAA).
- To add to opponents’ misery, the Kings have the best power play (36.7, or 22 goals in 60 man-advantages) and second in penalty killing (85.7 percent, or six goals against on 42 opponent advantages).
- The Kings may seem to start a bit slow sometime, but they win when it matters – they are a league-best 5-1-0-1 when tied after the first period.
- Culin Wilson is on a four-game assist streak that he’ll carry into November, having posted six helpers in that time, the longest current assist streak in the NCDC. He is fifth in league points with 19 points through 14 games.
- Nathan Stachowiak is on the league’s second-longest active goal streak, with four in his last three games.
- Salvatore Cerrato and Jason Zaccari are 1-2 in assists by defensemen with 14 and 11, respectively. They are first and fourth in defenseman scoring at 16 and 12 points, respectively. Cerrato is also second overall among all skaters in assists.
- Ryan Keyes remains the only goaltender undefeated after as many as nine games, going 9-0 so far with a league-leading nine wins and a 1.88 GAA, good for second.
- With game-winners in two of his last four games, rookie Jake Kavanagh is first in the league in game-winners with four. He had the first goal in the 4-0 shutout win on Oct. 26. Another top rookie, Xavier Vaillancourt, leads the league in power play goals with seven, hitting that number on Oct. 26.
Ogden Mustangs Enjoying League-Best Seven-Game Points Streak At 6-0-0-1
With four more points this weekend, the Ogden Mustangs were able to to pull away to a five-point lead in the Mountain Division. The Mustangs faced down their historic rivals the Utah Outliers and came away with wins of 2-1 and 4-1 in the Friday-Saturday home-and-home series. The Mustangs stand at 3-1-0-0 against the Outliers so far this year, and they have seven more games remaining this year. Their Oct. 6 loss to the Outliers remains the Mustangs’ only regulation loss this year.
- The Mustangs remain the No. 1 overall defense in the NCDC with a team goals against average of 2.08.
- Among teams that have been out-shot this season, the Mustangs are the only team with points in all four such games, as they’ve gone 2-0-1-1 even when the opposition is firing away.
- Since Game 2 of the season, Dimitri Voyatzis (a USPHL Premier Mountain Division All-Star last year) has remained on a huge and active point streak of 16 points in 11 games. He only missed the scoresheet in Game 1 of the season on Sept. 22.
- Goaltender Vlad Bryzgalov is No. 1 league-wide in goals against average at 1.81 and he is tied for second in save percentage at .946.
Utica Jr. Comets Take Four Points From Three-Game Series
Undefeated in regulation through their last five games, 3-0-1-1, the Jr. Comets have taken up the mantle of fifth place for the NCDC overall with 17 points. They have a big pair of roadblocks to first in the New England Division, with the South Shore Kings (23 points) and Islanders Hockey Club (22) ahead of them locally. Most recently, the Jr. Comets earned a 6-4 win on Oct. 29, following a 5-4 OT loss on Friday and a 1-0 shootout loss on Saturday.
- Utica remains second in the NCDC in power play efficiency, putting up a 26.7 percent success rate off 16 goals in 60 attempts.
- Riley Joslin’s two power play goals scored on Sept. 30 still has him tied for first in PPG’s by a defenseman.
- Goalie Waylon Esche had the somewhat unusual occasion of registering a shutout without a win. Anytime a game goes beyond 65 minutes without a goal, both goalies earn a shutout. Esche’s first of the season, the shootout loss, saw him stop all 34 shots he faced through the overtime, and the Northern Cyclones’ Jeffrey Fillion was also credited with a shutout, making 44 saves.
- With 614 minutes in net, Esche is second in minutes played across all NCDC goalies.
Provo Predators Earn Weekend Sweep To Improve To 7-2-0-1
The Predators defeated the Rock Springs Grizzlies, 5-0 and 5-1, in a weekend sweep of a home-and-home series. Early in their NCDC existence, they have already picked up a pair of weekend sweeps of games on back-to-back days against the same opponent, earlier defeating Pueblo on Oct. 6-7.
- When the Preds put up 26 shots in the third period of their Oct. 27 5-0 victory, they came in with the second highest shots for a third period of a game – behind the 27 they put against on Oct. 20 in a 6-3 loss to Ogden.
- Provo has the second fewest shots against per game, at 30.10.
- Luke Faas’ two power play goals scored so far this year has him tied for the lead in PPG’s among defensemen.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights’ Three-Point Weekend Keep Them At Second In Atlantic
The Knights’ came away with an overtime loss and a victory in hosting the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, falling 1-0 on Oct. 28 and then winning 4-3 in regulation on Oct. 29. The Knights are on a 3-0-1-0 run over the last two weeks, giving them currently sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division (albeit nine points behind the league-leading P.A.L. Jr Islanders). They currently stand at 7-5-1-0.
- The Knights have the best record in the NCDC when tied after two periods, going 4-0-1-0. That was the situation in their Oct.. 29 win. They have to avoid being down after two periods, though, as they are 0-5 in that situation.
- The Knights haven’t had a shootout since Oct. 6, but they remain as one of the league shootout leaders, tied for the league lead in SOG’s with four. On the other side, Tade Carman is second in stopping all but one of seven shootout shots (.143 opponent success rate). Carman leads the league in shootout wins, and Andrew Piccirillo is the only defenseman – and one of two players league-wide – with two shootout goals.
- Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Chance Uzzell has racked up seven power play assists which leads all NCDC defensemen (and seven power play points also lead the way). On the other side, Michael Gravina is the only player league-wide with two shorthanded assists.
- William Jasmin is ranked third in the league points race at 19 points and he’s also third in goals at 10.
Pueblo Bulls Register Pair Of Victories, Pull To Third In NCDC Mountain
The Bulls earned back-to-back victories, 6-1 and 4-3, against the Idaho Falls Spud Kings to give them another push upward. They bypassed the Utah Outliers to move into third in the Mountain, just one point behind Provo and six points behind the division-leading Ogden Mustangs.
- For the third time this season, the Bulls scored at least 10 goals in two straight games against the same opponent. They started with 12 goals in the first two games of the year Sept. 22-23, and 10 against the Rock Springs Grizzlies over Oct. 13-14.
- Not surprisingly, they’ve moved up in overall offense to now place second with an average of 4.00 goals per game (up from fourth at 3.80 a week earlier).
- Nate Farrell and Will Sinclair are 1-2 in goals by defensemen at seven and five, respectively. Farrell is second among NCDC defensemen in scoring with 15 points.
- Jack Hanson is the league’s overall leader in power play assists (eight) and power play points (nine).
Mercer Chiefs Get First Weekend Sweep Of Season
The Mercer Chiefs’ wins against the Jersey Hitmen, 6-5 in overtime and 6-1 in regulation, was the Chiefs’ first back-to-back sweep against a common opponent here in 2023-24. In doing so, they pulled to within one game of hitting the .500 mark on the season (5-6-1-1).
- In the Chiefs’ history against the Hitmen, they have pulled above .500 with a 5-3-0-0 all-time record going back to last year’s inaugural season. The Hitmen are just above .500 at 3-2-2-1 in the all-time series.
- Mercer’s Kal Essenmacher has a six-game point streak going on, giving him a line of 3-4-7 going back to Oct. 14.
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Split Against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
The Rangers posted a 1-0 overtime defeat of the host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, and then fell by a 4-3 score the next day against the Knights. The two games were the Rangers’ fourth and fifth straight one-goal games. The Jr. Rangers are 3-3-1-0 in one-goal games this season, and are tied with the Junior Bruins (4-3-0-0) and Utica Jr. Comets (3-1-2-1) for most one-goal games in the NCDC this year.
- The Jr. Rangers matched their 2022-23 season high of consecutive one-goal games with five. They were in five one-goal affairs between Sept. 24 and Oct. 2, 2022. They were 10-7-5-3 in one-goal games last year.
- Max Jaldung has a five-game point streak going on, over which he has picked up a 3-5-8 line to improve to 12 points in nine games. Speaking of streaks, no one has yet matched Jack Houser’s eight-game assist streak, over which he posted 12 helpers between Sept. 23 and Oct. 13.
- Defenseman Carl Johan Salle is tied for the league lead in power play points by a defenseman with seven, and he is second in power play assists by a defenseman with six.
- Mason Joseph stopped all 36 shots he faced in the shutout victory on Oct. 28. The 1.000 save percentage from that game lifted him to No. 1 in the league with a .952 mark for goalies with at least four games played. He’s also third in goals against average at 1.96.
Northern Cyclones Go 2-1 During Weekend Series Against Utica
The Cyclones hosted the Utica Jr. Comets for three straight games and came out with a pair of wins (4-3 in overtime on Oct. 27, and 1-0 in the shootout on Oct. 28) before falling 6-4 on Oct. 29. With each of those extra sessions, the Cyclones evened up their overtime record on the year at 1-1 and their shootout record is the same.
- While the Cyclones haven’t had the start to the season they’d like, at 3-9-1-1, their opponents haven’t been able to beat them much on their power plays. The Cyclones stand at No. 1 in the NCDC in penalty killing with a percentage rate of 88.7 percent, killing off all but eight of 71 opponents’ advantages.
- Nickita Ushakov, a second-year NCDC veteran the Cyclones picked up in a trade from the WBS Knights in early October, scored his second career shootout goal – and both have been game-winners. On Dec. 17, 2022, Ushakov ended a shootout in WBS’ favor in a 4-3 win over Connecticut. He is 2-for-3 all-time in the shootout.
- Rookie Nick Vinson scored his first three goals of the season in the Utica series and his first of the year was the overtime winner on Oct. 27. Before his 12 games this year, Vinson played a single NCDC game with the Twin City Thunder in 2022-23 while with the Philadelphia Hockey Club 18U team.