By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The 2022-23 season was a bit of a rebuilding project for the Islanders Hockey Club NCDC team. And the good news is, the building is up, standing and a shining beacon that one of the northeast’s foremost development organizations hopes will lead them back to the top of the Tier II league.
The Islanders, who won the first Dineen Cup in NCDC history in 2018 after an historic 47-3 season, brought together a largely new squad from every position. After a season of getting to know the Tier II game from every angle, they bring a large group of IHC veterans back to take the next step in both team success and personal development towards college hockey advancement.
“We are very excited about this year’s team. I believe we have assembled a solid team,” said Tim Kyrkostas, who is entering his fourth year as an NCDC Head Coach. “We are a much older group this year with a ton of returning players.”
Braxton Powers leads off the list as the top returning scorer after posting 24 points in 48 games last year. Powers is a former Islanders 18U player who saw his first NCDC experience while playing for the IHC 18U squad in 2021-22, after being selected in the former NCDC Futures Draft.
We are counting on Braxton to have a big season,” added Kyrkostas.
Other forwards coming back are a mix of players, most of whom only got a chance to play a portion of the 2022-23 season. Max Lundgren put up 14 points in 26 games, Max Tsegelnik had 14 points in 32 games, Trevor Castino put up 13 points in 34 games and Tiki Ashikhmin registered 16 points in 40 games.
Returning defensemen include Andrew Miller (10 points in 32 games) and Hunter Mullett, who played in 13 games.
“These players bring instant maturity in regards to how we go about our daily and weekly routines here at the Islanders Hockey Club,” said Kyrkostas. “All of these players have been showing incredible leadership since Day 1 and will be looked upon as our leadership group going forward.”
When looking at newcomers, the excitement starts in the goal mouth. The team is looking forward to seeing what the trio of USPHL Premier All-Stars Ean Badgett and Frank Murphy as well as former Phillips Exeter goalie Mike Salvatore will bring to the team. It’ll certainly be a great competition to see if any can pick up the starting ball and run with it. Murphy was the Premier’s wins leader last year with the Toledo Cherokee winning 25 games. He was also sixth in goals against average (1.82) and former IHC Premier goalie Badgett was ninth at 1.99.
On the back end, the returning duo of Miller and Mullett will be joining Sam Larsson, from the Nacka Under-20 team in his native Sweden, former Rivers School Captain Luke Swaim and Aaron Ackerson, out of the Greater Ontario Junior League’s Waterloo-Kitchener Siskins. “We are really excited about our back end,” added Kyrkostas. All three are 2004-born defensemen.
Among the new forwards, watch particularly for former Philadelphia Little Flyers 18U AAA standout Joey Samango (‘05) and Seacoast Performance Academy 18U AAA’s Jordan Bezio (‘04).
The Islanders are setting out to make noise on all fronts – from team success to college commitments. This is a team focused on all-around improvement of both the individuals and the team as a whole on the ice.
“I expect our team to be a much more disciplined, well-conditioned and well-organized team,” Kyrkostas added. “We have set some team goals that we will be striving towards and I am excited to see if we can accomplish them.”