Games of Jan. 10-16, 2023
Summaries by Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
Forwards: Cade Baker, Rockets Hockey Club
Baker (‘03/York Springs, Pa.) was instrumental in the Rockets picking up a key victory against the second-place P.A.L. Jr. Islanders on Friday, posting a 1-2-3 line. He also added a goal – which tied the game 2-2 – against the Jersey Hitmen in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss. In helping the Rockets earn three points, they pulled to within three points of the important fourth place playoff position. A second-year NCDC veteran, Baker has 34 points in 33 games this year for 10th in the league. He also has 68 points in 83 all-time regular season contests.
Defense: Michael Webster, Utica Jr. Comets
Another second-year NCDC veteran, Webster (‘02/Sartell, Minn.) put up a goal and four assists for five points as the Utica Jr. Comets swept the Mercer Chiefs in two home games. Now on a three-game winning streak, the Jr. Comets are just five points out of fourth place with lots of runway to contend for a playoff spot. His fourth career goal was the game-winner against Mercer on Jan. 13, a career first. Webster has improved his 2021-22 numbers seven-fold by putting up 21 points in 31 games this year.
Goaltender: Waylon Esche, Utica Jr. Comets
A winner of five of his last seven starts going back to November, Esche (‘05/Westmoreland, N.Y.) helped the Jr. Comets pull off the sweep of the powerful first-year Mercer Chiefs. He stopped 48 of 50 shots in Game 1 on Jan. 13, and then added another 32 saves on 34 shots in Game 2, for a combined .952 save percentage. Esche, the son of former NHL goalie Robert Esche, improved to 9-6-0-2 on the season.
Forward: Jack Hillier, South Shore Kings
The Kings picked up three points over the last week to remain in fourth place in a very tight North Division, where they are also just six points out of first. Hillier (‘04/Petawawa, Ont.) was a big part of that success as he registered his second hat trick in six games – and third of the season – in a 6-2 win against New Hampshire. He added a goal and an assist against the Boston Advantage in an eventual OT loss. His five points tied Utica’s Michael Webster for the most in the NCDC between Jan. 10-16.
Defense: Bryson Russell, South Shore Kings
Russell, a new addition to the Kings last October, has been very valuable in helping the Kings to currently maintain a hold on fourth, thanks to strong D that saw him register a +5 in the last week’s two games. Generally a stay-at-home blueliner, the ‘02 from Palmyra, Pa., also posted two assists in the win over the Monarchs, accounting for half of his four points in 20 games this year after coming over from the NAHL.
Goaltender: Trey Miller, Twin City Thunder
Miller (‘02/Columbus, Ohio) is enjoying his second season in the NCDC after previously playing in 2020-21. Now with the THunder, he remains undefeated in 2023. Two of those three wins came on back-to-back nights against the division-leading Northern Cyclones and the Islanders Hockey Club. Like Waylon Esche, Miller was the only other goaltender to go 2-0 between Jan. 10-16, making 68 saves on 72 shots, including 38 of 40 against the Islanders on Jan. 14. He has posted an impressive .912 on the season through 14 games.