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#USPHLPlayoffs: P.A.L. Jr. Islanders vs. Elmira Impact

Atlantic Division 

Elmira Impact (5) at P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (4)

All Games To Be Played At The Rinx, Hauppaugge, NY

Saturday, March 2, 7:10 p.m. EST

Sunday, March 3, 11:40 a.m. EST

Monday, March 4, 10:40 a.m. EST (If Necessary) 

 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 

 

As good a regular season as this was for both the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and Elmira Impact, there’s no time for celebrations – not when each team wants to win their first Premier playoff series either in their program’s history or (for Elmira) since their wondrous inaugural season of 2020-21. 

Both programs fell a bit on hard times the last few years, finishing seventh and eighth last year and both making 0-2 exits in the 2023 postseason. Neither team qualified for the 2021 playoffs in what was then two divisions, the Atlantic West and Atlantic East. So, for the Jr. Islanders to go 25-16-3-0 and for the Impact to go 23-14-5-2 were both huge turnarounds for their respective franchises. Now is the time to put it to the big test and see if they can forge a path to Nationals. Both know full well some very tough teams – such as USPHL Premier Regular Season Champions the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, and division runners-up Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – may be in their way of achieving that dream. There’s no turning back to regular season successes, they’re 0-0 again and it’s time to do the job or go home. 

“We’re excited for the weekend. I believe it’s the first time P.A.L. is hosting a home Premier playoff series, which is great for the organization,” said Jr. Isles Head Coach Frank DiChiara, who was an assistant last year with the NCDC Dineen Cup Champion Jr. Islanders. “That being said, the race for home ice between us and Elmira came down to the tiebreaker and the last games of the regular season. Practices have been high tempo this week and the pace has been great like they have been all year. Obviously, everything gets magnified in the playoffs, so we’ve been fine-tuning some little details in our game that I think will help us. ‘Iron sharpens Iron’.”

“We believe our team has been prepared for the playoffs since camp,” added Impact Head Coach Glen Patterson. “This season, we put together a very experienced group for this purpose. We understand at this time of the year it’s expected everyone needs to take their play to a new level. Each and every player needs to commit to their role and find success within that key role. As a staff we look forward to watching our group compete and work together towards our goal.”

P.A.L. solidified home ice by defeating Elmira three times during the regular season, losing only once in overtime. That gave them the head-to-head tiebreaker. Three of the four games were one-goal games, including the OT win by the Impact earlier in the season, Oct. 21.   

“We have seen P.A.L. four times this season, all games being closely played,” said Patterson. “They have a strong group with several top players in the division. We need to identify their top offensive players and play them tight.”

Those top offensive players for the Jr. Islanders include Peter Labos, who led with 73 points in 44 games. James Clifford (58 points), Thomas Miller (44 points) and Vincent Gasquez (35 points) also averaged better than one point per game up front. Gasquez was also the team’s plus-minus leader at +14, while the defense leader Colin Beisel scored 27 points and led the way in hits (42) and blocked shots (97). 

In goal, Ryo Murakami was essentially the wire-to-wire leader for the Premier Jr. Islanders, posting a 17-11-1-0 record. 

The Impact’s offense begins with Top 10 scorer Filip Tomiczek, whose 42-51-93 line was good for a tie for 10th place in the league this year. He registered greater than 2.11 points per game on average. 

Lex Roldan wasn’t far behind with 83 points in 43 games, while fellow forward Cam DeForest (46 points) and Robert Di Silvestro (45 points) also cleared the 1.00 points per game mark, along with defenseman Connor Craig (67 points in 44 games). Di Silvestro also came out of the season as the Impact’s top faceoff guy, winning 59 percent of his draws (351 wins total). 

Defenseman Matteo Moretta, who was acquired from Atlanta in December, led the team in plus-minus at +8. Forward Mario Smith was the team leader in blocked shots with 62 blocked shots. 

In net, Cole Stevens, Jeffrey Reda and Simon Johnson have all experienced some strong performances in net this year for Elmira. 

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