Week of Oct. 22, 2022
By Marlee Bulman and Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
Bridgewater Bandits (2-0)
The Bandits have really been enjoying the 2022-23 season. They have just come off two massive wins, perhaps no bigger than ending the Northern Cyclones’ previously undefeated streak by beating them 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 19. That, and a 9-4 win over the struggling Boston Junior Bruins, has them tied with the Cyclones for first in points in the North Division. The Bandits are on a 6-0 winning streak dating back to Oct. 3 and their third of three games in the BJB Shootout. So basically almost all of October has been an undefeated month for Bridgewater.
- The six W’s in a row are the Bandits’ most since taking eight in a row in 2018-19.
- Liam Norton’s overtime game-winner against the Cyclones is certainly not out of character. It was more only a matter of time, as he’d been – and remains – absolutely on fire. The ‘04 has five goals and eight assists for 13 points in his last six games. He leads the Bandits with 18 points in 11 games. Norton also has a goal in his only USPHL Premier action so far as well.
- Ethan Bairos (‘04) is on a tear in net. He won both of the recent games, and one prior to that for a 3-0 run in which he’s stopped 69 of 76 shots.
The Road Ahead: The Bandits will travel to face the Springfield Pics on Saturday (6 p.m. puck drop) and then will host the Junior Bruins on Sunday (8:20). From there, it’s back home Wednesday for an afternoon home game against the Islanders Hockey Club.
They’ve seen all three teams already and are 2-1 against the trio – in addition to their big win over the Junior Bruins, they defeated the Pics 7-2 on Sept. 25 and lost 8-5 to the Islanders in the season-opener on Sept. 22.
Islanders Hockey Club (1-0)
The Islanders’ only action in the last week was a big 6-0 shutout victory over the Springfield Pics. A week later sees them in action Saturday night (6:30 p.m.) at the Northern Cyclones’ own Cyclones Arena.
- The shutout was picked up by Anthony Lacroix in net, as he stopped all 36 shots he faced in net. He had earlier faced the Cyclones on Sept. 29 and took a loss in the shootout, so in his two games he is still undefeated in as many as 65 minutes of hockey.
The Road Ahead: All eyes will be on the 6:30 p.m. Saturday game between the Islanders and the Northern Cyclones, considering they are the division’s two Nationals representatives the past couple years running. The Cyclones won the most recent action on Sept. 29, winning 3-2 in the shootout.
- This has been such a close series over the lead that the two teams are both over .500 in their all-time matchups, many of which have moved into extra hockey. The Cyclones have the points advantage of 25 (11-7-1-2) vs. the Islanders’ 22 points (10-9-1-1).
Northern Cyclones (2-0-1)
The Cyclones were cleaning house before running into the Bandits on Oct. 19. Back on Oct. 15, they had a 4-0 shutout win over the Pics and the next day enjoyed a decisive victory against the Junior Bruins. The surging Bandits busted their vibe with that dramatic 3-2 OT win for Bridgewater.
- The Cyclones’ seven-game winning streak from the start of their season, the record of which is now 7-0-1-0, was their best from the start since the 2019-20 season, when they went 9-0 out of the gate before a loss.
- Max Pierce had the shutout victory against the Pics, making 30 saves. The Cyclones hope to continue to utilize his talents to the same effect, as he remains one of the best goalies in the league at 3-0-0-0 with a 0.95 goals against average.
- Defenseman Jacob Riegel (‘04) carries the Cyclones’ best scoring streak into their battle against the Islanders, as he has posted 1-3-4 in his last three games.
The Road Ahead: We spoiled there a little bit for you – yes, it’s the Cyclones vs. Islanders as the Saturday Night Main Event for the NNorth Division.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2-0-0-0)
After taking on the Rockets and Jersey Hitmen the Scranton Knights are now on a 5 game win streak, having won 7-4 and 7-0, respectively.
The Knights are now tied in points for first overall in the USPHL Premier, matching where they were on the same date a year ago. They had 28 points at that mark, and were in sole possession of first by Oct. 22, 2021.
- Boughen is back! The ‘04 veteran Dylan Boughen is back and looks every bit the leader this young team needs. He stopped 29 shots for his first career #ShutoutShoutout. He is 3-0 with a .915 save percentage.
- Jason DiMatteo (‘04) and Brody Bess (‘05) are fourth and fifth, respectively, in league points with 20 apiece.
- Depth has been the key, with 24 players registering points and 20 of those on the Knights roster with multiple points.
The Road Ahead: The Knights will not be playing this weekend but they will face off against the New York Aviators next weekend (Oct. 28-30).
New York Aviators (2-2-0-0)
Last Friday in their season-opener, the Aviators fell to P.A.L. and the next day to the Jersey Hitmen, but came back in their third game on Sunday against P.A.L., 5-4. They also pulled even on their young season on Friday against the Rockets Hockey Club in a three-game series that will see two home games for the Aviators and one for the Rockets on Saturday (1 p.m.)
They have played less games than the Rockets, but if they were to pull off a sweep, they would pull even in points in a tie for fourth place, not bad for just two weekends of hockey.
- Swedish Aviators veteran Melvin Rosendahl (‘02) is the early scoring leader, posting 2-6-8 out of the gate, doubling his points from the first three games with a four-assist effort against the Rockets on Oct. 21.
- Jake Bergmann (‘03) is averaging a goal per game early with a 4-1-5 line.
The Road Ahead: As aforementioned, two more remain this weekend against the Rockets. They are hoping to get their first series win against the Rockets since 2019-20, when they went 3-2-1-0. The Rockets hold a commanding series lead, however, of 30-7-3-1.
- The Rockets’ leading scorer John Crowdell is second in both points (26) and points per game (2.60) and is within striking distance of Potomac’s Zarand Varga, just one point higher (and 0.10 higher on the points per game scale).
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders (1-1-0-0)
The first-year Islanders continue to impress and shake up the order in the Mid-Atlantic, by pushing into second at 6-4-1-0 so far. P.A.L. faced the New York Aviators last weekend, taking the win in the first game 6-4 but falling short on Sunday, 5-4.
- The Islanders are enjoying a recent offensive surge, scoring four goals or better for three games in a row for the first time in this inaugural season, counting the games above and their final Rockets Hockey Club Showcase game against the Potomac Patriots (6-4 loss).
- A couple P.A.L. ‘05’s are carrying hot hands, with Ryan Hobbes putting up a 2-2-4 line over his last four and Victor D’Errico standing with the same line in his last three.
- While the Jr. Islanders may not have any players averaging at least 1.00 per game (Hobbes and Jacob Huang each have nine points in 10 games to lead the team), every one of the 22 skaters has at least one point.
The Road Ahead: This Saturday and Sunday, they will take on the fellow first-year Elmira Jr Enforcers. That series starts up at 7:15 at Northwell Health Ice Center on Saturday night and carries over to 1:50 at The Rinx in Hauppauge, both homes of P.A.L.
In Other Action
The Jersey Hitmen came off a 2-2 performance at the Rockets Hockey Club Showcase into a rough patch of three losses, including one on Friday against the first-year Nashville Spartans of the Southeast Division, the first of a three-game set. That continues Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:45 p.m., both at the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J.
- J.T. Verdino (‘04) continues to lead the way offensively with a 4-7-11 line in eight games.