Less than a month remains in the regular season and the playoff picture is taking shape. Seven teams have qualified and the Philadelphia Little Flyers have already wrapped up the South Division crown.
Nine slots remain to be filled for the month-long championship chase that begins Feb. 25. The four division winners will be slotted one through four based on regular-season points, followed by numbers 5-16. At this time, the New England Wolves, Philadelphia Revolution and New Jersey Titans are on the outside looking in.
The defending champion Northern Cyclones (24-6-2-1) and 2014 finalist New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (24-6-1-2) are in a flat-footed tie for first with 51 points apiece. The Cyclones prevailed last Sunday, 4-3, and the teams’ final regular-season meeting is Friday night (Tri-Town, 7:40 p.m.).
Forwards Luke Babcock (15-30-45), Brent Beaudoin (15-23-38) and Hunter Laslo (15-16-31) and defenseman C.J. Valerian (27 points) drive the Monarchs, who boast the goalie tandem of Simon Leiva and Cole Burack.
Forwards Sean Brown (21-21-42), Nick Felan (13-17-30), Casper Dyrssen (10-18-28) and Joey Meehan (13-14-27) and defensemen L.J. Fellows (21 points) and Tony Crow (17 points) power the Cyclones. Jimmy Poreda gets most of the work in goal.
The Vermont Lumberjacks (13-19-1-1) have enjoyed a solid debut campaign and slot in the bottom quarter of qualifiers. Forward Tucker Cobb (12-21-33) and defenseman Sean Winikates lead the ‘Jacks in front of lead goalie Anthony Giordano.
The New England Wolves (10-24-1-1) are four points outside of the playoff structure. They require outside help and a near-perfect finish to qualify.
The entire division is well on the way to qualifying with two points separating Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (26-9-2-0) and the Connecticut Oilers (25-9-1-1) for the top spot.
Six WBS forwards have at least 30 points led by league goals leader Pontus Okerblad (30-16-46) and Dan Perez (22-19-41). Assist machine John Regnart (25) and Cole Karklins lead the defense and Kenny Graham (.933 save pct., 2 SO) is the top goalie.
The Oilers’ high-octane attack is fueled by forwards Lucas Bombardier (20-24-44) and Ludvig Steenberg (38 points) and defensemen Cam Cundy (24 points) and Oscar Arfelt (24 points). Chris Bastone and Michael Tilford split time in goal.
The Hartford Jr. Wolpack (21-12-0-3) have one of the league’s top attacks behind forwards Todd Schaus (16-24-40), Jamie Lukas (10-30-40) and company. Andreas Radin and Maz Ross are solid defenders for goalies Tyler Ellor and Kyle Carducci.
The New York Bobcats (21-13-1-1) thrive with forwards Corey Kennedy (11-30-41), C.J. Totillo (11-20-31) and David Kleyman (16 goals). Joey Maguire (26 points) is the top defenseman. Goalies Brandon Rathwell and Jordan Severo share time.
New York Applecore (16-19-1-1) seems safe. Forwards Zach White (19-17-36) and Pontus Palmborg (19-15-34) and defenseman Mark Leprine have had strong seasons. Blake Wojtala and Tim Sestak split time in goal.
It seems as though the Philadelphia Little Flyers (30-3-2-2) clinched the division at Thanksgiving. Their plus-104 differential highlights their dominance and they still have plenty of motivation with the tournament’s top seed within reach.
Forwards Berry Cameron (18-31-49), John Nugent (9-36-45), Drew Gannon (16-23-39) and Austin Kelly (15-21-36) lead an attack that features 10 20-point scorers. Defensemen Gabe Chuckran (11-15-26) and Garrett Gallagher (8-18-26) add to the mix. Alternating goalies Trevor Micucci and Greg Procopio both have four shutouts.
The Philadelphia Junior Flyers (20-12-1-1) project to finish in the middle of the draw. They lean heavily on forwards Jon Ruiz (27-22-49), Jeff Beck (16-21-37) and Steve Beck (18-15-33). Bill Huber and A.J. Wallace anchor a corps of stay-at-home defensemen while Tom Bay (2 SO) gets most of action in goal.
The New Jersey Rockets (13-21-1-2) are in the mix, though not safe. Goalie Josh Creelman has won 3-of-4 starts this month. Defenseman Cameron Dineen (8-26-34) is the top scorer with forwards Joseph Napoli (7-14-21) and Derek Caruso (10-9-19).
The New Jersey Titans (9-22-4-2) are on the cusp of qualification but can’t afford a misstep. Forward Cian Derder (9-15-24) and defensemen Adam Morton and Josh Hinderliter lead the way.
The Philadelphia Revolution (7-27-4-0) have struggled all season. Nevertheless, forwards Zach England (12-15-27) and Dean Zerby (10-10-20) have had solid years.
The first-place Walpole Express (22-9-3-0) are in great shape with a hefty lead, multiple games in hand and a Top Four finish in reach. League scoring leader Frankie Cefalu (17-34-51), who just committed to UNH, sparks the offense with forwards Nick Balboa (16-26-42), Alex Corvi (31 points) and Eric Lipa (15 goals). Bryan Nelson (18 points) leads the defense and Evan McCarthy and Connor Rodericks share the goaltending duties.
The East Coast Wizards (18-18-1-1) have enjoyed a fine inaugural season. C.J. Grinnell (10-16-26), Glen Wiswell (15-8-23) and Byron Carlisle (13-9-22) form an effective trio of forwards with Ricky Kramer (22 points) strong on the back line. Three goalies have seen regular action.
The Boston Bandits (15-16-2-4) get balanced production from forwards Brandon Seal, Jon Stickel, Nick Pezza and Connor Court, who have accounted for 48 goals. Matt Michalke and P.J. Johnson are top defensemen and Billy Palmer (3 SO) most often gets the call in goal.
Forwards Brett Mecrones (12-17-29), Davis Algra (13-13-16), Derek Mecrones (26 points) and Joe Berardi (11 goals) lead the Boston Junior Rangers (16-19-1-2). Mason Nicholas and Thomas Evans are top defenders in front of primary goalie Evan Morelli.
The Valley Junior Warriors (13-23-0-0) are hanging onto the final playoff spot – barely. Forwards Brendan Heinze, Van Sullivan and Will Platt lead the offense, Justin DeWitz is the top defenseman, and goalies Colin Soucy and Drew Michals split time.
- Conor Ferrera, F, Walpole Express – Plymouth State University (2015)
- Josh Victor, D, Connecticut Oilers – Fitchburg State University (2015)
- Connor Jones, F, Hartford Jr. Wolfpack – Becker College (2015)
- Eric Bogart, G, New England Wolves – SUNY-Fredonia (2015)
- Jake Leamer, D, Walpole Express – St. Anselm College (2015)
- Jamie Lukas, F, Hartford Jr. Wolfpack – SUNY-Brockport (2015)
- Frankie Cefalu, F, Walpole Express – University of New Hampshire
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Joey Maguire, New York Bobcats
Cole Karklins, Wilkes-Barrer/Scranton
Josh Creelman, New Jersey Rockets
Frankie Cefalu, Walpole Express, 51
PontusOkerlad, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, 30
John Nugent, Philadelphia Little Flyers, 36