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Series Preview: Islanders Hockey Club vs. South Shore Kings

By IHC Staff, 04/02/24, 1:30PM EDT



Islanders Hockey Club (2) vs. South Shore Kings (3) 

Best of Five 

Tuesday, April 2, 2 p.m., Skate 3 Arena

Wednesday, April 3, 2 p.m., Skate 3 Arena

Saturday, April 6, 7 p.m., Foxboro Sports Center

Sunday, April 7, 7 p.m., Foxboro Sports Center* 

Tuesday, April 9, 2 p.m. Skate 3 Arena*

* = If Necessary 


The chance to play for the 2024 Dineen Cup is getting even closer for the No. 1 and 2 teams in the New England Division this year. The Islanders Hockey Club and South Shore Kings line up against each other for the New England Division Championship series. 

“We are super excited for this series as it’s going to be two great teams battling for the right to advance on,” said Islanders GM/Head Coach Tim Kyrkostas. “We know how talented of a hockey team the Kings are. They are extremely well coached and have a lethal power play so we are going to have to have excellent discipline and stay out of the box.”

“We had eight very good games with IHC in the regular season. A lot of them were decided by a goal. I would say all eight games had a playoff feel,” added South Shore GM/Head Coach Tyler Holske. “They are well-coached and are disciplined in all three zones. They present many challenges.”

The Kings won the season series by a record of 5-2-0-1, though the last game on March 16 was the most important win for the Islanders, as it helped them win the New England Division regular season title by one point. Their record on the season was 3-4-1-0. A string of four games in the middle of the season series were all one-goal decisions, as aforementioned by Holske. 

“The season series showed just how close our two teams really are to one another,” added Kyrkostas. “This really should be an exciting series which will showcase how great the NCDC brand of hockey truly is to anyone who has never seen our league before.”

Both teams got to the New England finals after winning two straight against their division semifinal opponents. The Islanders drew the No. 4 Junior Bruins, who had won a single play-in game against the Northern Cyclones. On March 26 and 27, the Islanders won 5-1 and 5-2 for the two-game sweep. 

“We are really happy with how our series went against the Junior Bruins,” Kyrkostas said. “We played solid hockey in all facets of our game in both contests, and we were pleased with not having to play a third and final game.” 

Tikhon Ashikhmin led a deep Islanders team with four points in his two games, while Alexei Filimonov – a Feb. 2 trade acquisition from the Utah Outliers – was second with three points. Islanders veteran Ean Badgett put up a 2-0 record with 45 saves on 48 shots for a .938 save percentage against the Junior Bruins. 

The Kings drew the No. 3 seed Utica Jr. Comets and came away with wins of 5-2 and 2-1 in overtime to secure their spot in the New England final. 

“Round 1 against Utica was a hard-fought series. They are a very good team. We faced adversity in both games as Utica scored the first goal in both games,” said Holske. “I thought our guys did a great job slowing them down through the middle of the ice. We did a good job closing quickly in the D-Zone, which led to clean exits and allowed us to transition fast.”  

Ryan Keyes – the regular season wins leader with 31 – was also terrific in net for his team to push them into the next round, as he stopped 50 of 53 shots for a .943 save percentage. 

Kotaro Murase was the show up front, scoring five points in the two games, including the OT game-and series-winner in Game 2. Four more players were tied for second in scoring with two points, including the top-scoring defenseman Jason Zaccari. 

The Islanders actually started the season with five games in nine days (Sept. 23 through Oct. 1), and then did it again between Oct. 6-14, so they’re plenty used to the grind that a best-of-five schedule might bring if it were to go the distance. 

“Our team is really used to playing back-to-back games and up to five games in a 7-10 day window so I really don’t think that would be an issue with our team, as they are prepared to handle this kind of schedule,” said Kyrkostas. 

The Kings’ first big stretch saw them play six games in 10 days, so there again, this is old hat for these teams. 

“Our mindset is just one game at a time. There is going to be adversity throughout a playoff series and it’s how you deal with it as a group,” said Holske. “You can’t get too high. You have to be focused on your next shift no matter what the scenario is. To be playing hockey this time of the year is fun. Our guys are prepared and know we need to play to our identity to have success. 

“Our leadership group starting with Aiden Lindley, Nate Stachowiak and Culin Wilson have done a terrific job keeping the group focused every day. We are looking forward to a great series,” he added.