By Marlee Bulman and Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (8-2-0-0)
The WBS Knights have been on fire this season. They made it to the semifinals last year, losing
to the Richmond Generals. On Saturday, they are facing the Rockets, against whom the Knights won six out of seven games against the Rockets. Then on Sunday, they are taking on the Jersey Hitmen. The Knights, who took five out of six against the Hitmen in 2021-22, are on a three-game winning streak. They are back in from the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase, where they won those three in a row (including some revenge against the Generals), after a showcase-opening loss to the other Nationals finalist, the Northern Cyclones.
You will have to see top scorers Jason DiMatteo (’04) (1.67 points per game) and Brody Bess (’05) (1.4 points per game). They will bring what they can to keep the streak alive.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (6-3-1-0)
The first-year P.A.L. squad will again play the New York Aviators Sunday, following a 6-4 win on Friday night in their first meeting with fellow Long Islanders the Aviators.
The Jr. Islanders’ top scorers currently are forwards Ryan Hobbes (’05) and Jacob Huang (’04), who both have seven points for the season. They also have goalies Christopher Lucente (’05), who has a save percentage of .933, and Bryan Hirtzel (’05), who has a GAA of 1.65 and percentage of .897.
- The Jr. Islanders went 2-2 at already their second showcase event of the season. At the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase, they went 2-2, defeating the Boston Junior Bruins and Hampton Roads Whalers, but fell to the Northern Cyclones and Potomac Patriots. d
Rockets Hockey Club (4-4-0-0)
The Rockets, who ended last year third in the division. That remains unchanged as of early this season. They will be up against the WBS Knights on Saturday, and are hoping for better results in their season series this year than the one win they took against WBS last season.
This season, they have top scorer and newcomer John Crowdell (’03) who has 20 points in eight games, along with returner Louis David (’04) who has 13 points in seven games (1.86 per game). They also have a newcomer goalie Matej Polacek (’05), who has a save percentage of
- At their hosted showcase last weekend, the Rockets struggled a bit in taking just one win in four games, that coming against the Bridgewater Bandits.
Jersey Hitmen (3-3-0-1)
The Hitmen will kick off this weekend by taking on the New York Aviators Saturday. In last year’s regular season, these teams faced off twice with the Hitmen winning 5-2 and 3-2 in a shootout.
The Aviators’ first game of the season saw them take a 6-4 loss to the P.a.L. Jr. Islanders on Friday.
On Sunday, they will take on Wilkes-Barre, a team that the Hitmen had only beaten once last year. The Hitmen ended second in their Division and seventh in the conference. They are currently standing at fourth and 14th. Their top scorer this season is J.T. Verdino (’04) who is almost surpassing his point total last season. With a points per game of 1.67 (10 points in six games), we should expect to see some great plays from him this weekend.
- The Hitmen finished a 2-2 run at the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase, taking wins against the Islanders Hockey Club and Boston Junior Bruins, while suffering losses to Bridgewater and a tough one against the defending National Champion Richmond Generals.
- Returning Aviator Melvin Rosendahl (‘02) scored a pair of goals and had one assist in the Aviators’ 6-4 defeat against P.A.L.
In other action
The Elmira Jr. Enforcers are up against the Nashville Spartans Friday (when they took a 6-3 loss) as well as Saturday, and Sunday. The Enforcers are sitting at 5th in their division. Elmira’s Blake Martino (’04) and Joey Berntavitz (’04) each have a points per game of 1.0 and will have to bring everything to the table against Nashville.
Bridgewater Bandits (5-3-1-0)
The Bandits’ seven most recent games have come in back-to-back showcases, first at the BJB Shootout (1-2-1-0) and then at the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase (3-0), where they finished Sunday with a 4-1 victory against the defending National Champion Richmond Generals.
- The Bandits return on Saturday to New England Sports Center, where they spent those four games of the BJB Shootout, and will take on the Junior Bruins at 8 p.m. The Northern Cyclones visit the Bandits next Wednesday.
- Luca Bruns (‘03) put up 86 saves on 88 shots to seal up North Goaltender of the Week honors after going 2-0 at the RHC Showcase. He’s won three in a row and not lost yet in regulation.
- Liam Norton (‘04) has 2-4-6 in his last four games, putting together a strong current streak.
Northern Cyclones (5-0-0-0)
The Cyclones exorcised some playoff demons by defeating the Richmond Generals in a jam-packed Saturday night special that had Bridgewater Sports Arena packed and the glass almost entirely circled, similar to their National Championship game atmosphere at Cyclones Arena last March. The two teams were in a physical tug-of-war for 65 minutes of hockey, and only veteran Kai Slette (‘03) was able to find the back of the net in the shootout. Max Pierce (‘04) stopped 38 of 39 shots plus all three in the shootout.
- Also at the RHC Showcase, the Cyclones defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights 7-5 and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders won 3-1. The Cyclones are on the road this weekend, facing Springfield on Saturday and the Junior Bruins on Sunday. Those two teams, with the Pics leading the duo with a win, are looking for much better fortunes this year.
- The Pics won their first game of the BJB Shootout against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders on Oct. 1, and have been digging for fire since.
- The Junior Bruins were also at the RHC Showcase and similarly came out without the W’s they were looking for. They are hoping to jolt the offense, which has produced three goals so far.
Islanders Hockey Club (3-1-1-1)
The Islanders, who stopped in for one game (an 8-5 over the WBS Knights) at the BJB Shootout, made a three-game trip to the RHC Showcase a week later. They went 1-1-1-0 in New Jersey, defeating the Hampton Roads Whalers, but falling in overtime to WBS and falling 4-2 to the Jersey Hitmen in their opener. This weekend, they have a single game on Sunday afternoon against the Springfield Pics.
- Not one, but two ‘04’s are avering a goal per game, with Dylan Reynolds putting up a 6-3-9 line in six games, and Jack Roberts scoring at a 6-1-7 line in five contests.