January 24, 2014

Juniors Journal: Impressive turnaround for the Islanders

By Shawn Hutcheon

After a difficult start to the season, the Islanders Hockey Club is making strides in the right direction in the United States Premier Hockey League.

Islanders head coach Sean Tremblay, a driving force in the formation of the USPHL, has had to overcome a slew of injuries to his players in order to guide his squad through some difficult nights on the ice.

“At the start of the season, we had nights where we had just nine forwards,” Tremblay said. “It was tough on the players.”

Those players, some of the top skaters in the USPHL, have persevered. They are currently in fifth place in the nine team circuit but have garnered attention from college coaches and scouts throughout the season.

Forward Ted McCarren (Dover, N.H.) recently committed to Merrimack College, bringing the number of Islanders who have committed to NCAA programs to 13. While it is the goal for all junior programs to prepare and develop players for college hockey, that number is huge for any junior organization in the United States.

Tremblay is known throughout hockey circles to be a tough but fair coach who has a strong history for getting players ready for that next level as noted by McCarren.

“Playing for Coach Tremblay is a true test of “How bad do you want it?” He pushes us to become better hockey players, and more importantly better men,” McCarren told the USPHL’s website. “The fact that dozens of former players being captains in college speaks for itself, along with the hundreds of successful pro and college players that played for him. I know he is the best at preparing his players for the next level on and off the ice.”

With players on this year’s Islanders Hockey Club slated to attend schools such as Harvard, Princeton, UMass, St. Lawrence, Holy Cross, and Union, among others, it is very apparent Tremblay has his priorities in place when it comes to junior hockey’s purpose. For the coach, winning is a byproduct of player development, and with numerous championships at each level, it is clear to see this is one coach who knows how to get the most out of his players while, at the same time, giving the most back to them.

Game of the Week

The Islanders Hockey Club will travel to New York this weekend to face off with P.A.L. Jr. Islanders in a United States Premier Hockey League series. IHC, which is in fifth place, has a six-point lead over sixth place PAL. The Islanders Hockey Club has won three of four previous meetings between the clubs.

NE Junior Power Rankings

1) Boston Jr. Bruins (29-3-2-1) - A win over the Jersey Hitmen and two more victories over the Islanders Hockey Club widened the first place Jr. Bruins lead over the Hitmen by nine points in the United States Premier Hockey League.

2) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (27-5-1-0) - The top team in the Eastern Hockey League’s North Division scored 20 goals in three wins over the Boston Jr. Rangers, Valley Jr. Warriors, and the Washington Jr. Nationals on the weekend. The Jr. Monarchs have lost once in their last fifteen contests.

3) Northern Cyclones (24-7-0-0) -  With victories over the Boston Jr. Rangers and the Valley Jr. Warriors, the Cyclones extended their winning streak to five games. They are in second place in the EHL’s North Division.

4) South Shore Kings (23-11-3-1) - A four game losing streak has seen the Kings slip from second place to third in the USPHL. They hope to get back to their winning ways Wednesday vs. the Jr. Bruins.

5) Connecticut Oilers (21-10-2-1) - The first place team in the EHL’s Central Division has a six point lead over the New York Bobcats and have lost only two of their last ten tilts.

6) Boston Bandits (18-9-3-2) - Trailing the Cyclones by seven points in the EHL’s North Division, the Bandits have lost just three of their last twelve games.

7) Islanders Hockey Club (18-15-3-0) - IHC has dropped six of their last eight contest to drop into fifth place in the USPHL. The schedule will not be kind to the Islanders, four of their next five games are on the road.

8) Bay State Breakers (11-18-4-3) - An infusion of some new blood in the lineup contributed to the Breakers reeling off three consecutive wins over the weekend which propelled the club into seventh place in the USPHL. Newcomer Zach Sabatini registered four goals and two assists in the three victories.

9) Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (15-12-3-2) - By winning one of four contests last week, Hartford sunk from second place in the EHL’s Central Division to fourth. The Wolfpack is hoping this weekend’s tilts against the New Jersey Titans and New York Apple Core will see them add to their win total.

10) Portland Jr. Pirates (10-26-3-1) - A big win over the Islanders Hockey Club last week, before being swept by the Breakers, maintained the Jr. Pirates’ seven point lead over the Connecticut Yankees in the race for eighth place in the USPHL.  

11) Walpole Express (10-15-6-2) - A loss and a tie against the Connecticut Oilers has the Express moving up two spots in our rankings. Walpole is in sixth place in the Central Division of the EHL.

12) Valley Jr. Warriors (10-16-3-5) - Valley is trying to exit the basement in the EHL’s North Division but three consecutive losses have prevented them from doing so.

13) Boston Jr. Rangers (12-16-2-3) - Four consecutive losses has kept the Rangers in fifth place in the EHL’s North Division. They trail the Boston Bandits by ten points and look destined for a fifth or sixth place finish.

14) Connecticut Yankees (8-26-1-0) - An eight game losing streak has seen Connecticut take up residence in ninth place in the USPHL. The Yankees trail Portland by seven points.    

Twitter: @ShawnHutcheon
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