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#USPHLPlayoffs: Islanders Hockey Club vs. Springfield Pics

New England Division 

Springfield Pics (3) at Islanders Hockey Club (2) 

Saturday, March 2, 1:40 p.m. EST, Skate 3 Rink, Tyngsboro, MA

Sunday, March 3, 4:40 p.m. EST, Skate 3 Rink, Tyngsboro, MA

Monday, March 4, 12 p.m. EST, Gallant Arena (If Necessary) 

 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 

 

The Islanders Hockey Club USPHL Elite program has come a long way this decade. Flashing back to 2019-20, the IHC did not actually field an Elite team that year, but they came back with a vengeance in 2020-21, ranking third in the entire Elite and making their first Nationals trip since the inaugural Elite season of 2017-18. They’ve made it back every season since and they have no intention of breaking that streak here in 2024. 

For the Springfield Pics, fate was not kind in their one opportunity to reach Nationals. They went 2-0 in the 2020 playoffs, but all around them in March 2020, the world was shutting down due to COVID-19. That wave of cancellations hit the 2020 Nationals and they would not get their chance to prove their mettle. They were close again in 2022, but fell in overtime twice to the Islanders Hockey Club, the same team they’ll open up the playoffs against today in North Andover, Mass. 

“I thought our matchups with the islanders were tough and hard-fought, even though they got the best of us during the regular season with us only taking one game against the Islanders,” said Head Coach Chris Beaudoin over this past week. “We are preparing just like we would any other day – practicing hard, battling and cleaning some little details up, getting ready for a very tough playoff series against a tough opponent.”

These games – either two or three of them – will see a continuation of a series that the Pics ended the regular season with. They fell on Feb. 19 and 21 to the Islanders, 3-2 and 4-1. That gave the Islanders a 7-1-0-0 season series victory. It was Jan. 13 when the Pics defeated the IHC, 3-1. Three other games were decided by one goal in favor of the Islanders this year, including that 3-2 IHC victory on Feb. 19.

“Every game we’ve played with the Pics this year has been a battle to the end,” said Kevin Smith, Head Coach for the Islanders. “They’ve been very even games where the winning team gets a bounce here or there. I expect the playoff series to be the same. We know the Pics compete hard and we’re going to need to play extremely well in all phases of the game in order to earn the right to move on.” 

Moving on from the series would mean earning a berth at the USPHL Nationals – it just takes two wins in the four-team New England Division to get there, and both teams know that full well. 

The Islanders come in with some serious firepower, as Bogdan Guntypov (60 points) and Adam Hadi (53) were both top 20 scorers this year. With 47 points in 44 games, Eamon Navin was also operating at better than a point per game average. Justin Pniewski (28 points) led the defensive corps in points, and in goal, Tagger Tamburo tied for the league lead in wins with 15 with the Florida Eels’ Nate Haas. He also finished in the top 10 for both goals against average (1.95) and save percentage (.928). Jack Munini provided depth with eight wins and a save percentage of .919. 

Goaltending has been strong all season for the Pics, as well. Shane McKone finished third in the league at .939. Jacob Croteau finished at .927, Mateo Lachance came in at .915 and Dylan Cash Haines finished with a .911 mark, giving the Pics an average save percentage of .925. 

Offensively, the team is led by Cole Davis (47 points), Joseph Roselli (32 points) and Simon Higgins (31 points), and on the back end James Delaney (21 points) has earned league accolades multiple times this season.

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