The Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks have clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the NA3HL Fraser Cup Playoffs. They will take on the New Jersey Titans, with Game 1 set for Friday night at 7 p.m. at Danbury Arena.
Game 3 will also be at Danbury Arena at 12:30 p.m., if necessary.
Tale of the Tape
The Jr. Hat Tricks finished the regular season as the #2 seed in the East Division, with a record of 23-13-0 on the season. The Titans finished 10 points behind Danbury in the standings, finishing 16-15-4.
Though the Titans won the first two meetings of the season, Danbury took five of the next six encounters with Jersey.
Danbury won five of their last six regular season contests.
Top Line Dominance
Danbury’s Nikita Kovalev, Nick Cullinan and Misha Mshar have emerged as one of the most formidable top lines in the league. Cullinan led the team in scoring with 44 points in just 23 games played this season, while Kovalev finished third with 27 points and Mshar placed seventh with 26.
The trio combined for 15 goals and 15 assists in the final week of the regular season (six games played). Kovalev missed the final two games with an injury.
Kovalev led the team with 15 multi-point outings, with Cullinan right behind him with 14. In short, this line has dominated.
The Jr. Hat Tricks boast remarkable depth at the blueline, with Kade Bacon and Ryan Wojciechowski growing into reliable two-way players. The anchors of the team, however, are veterans Cole Madzey and Connor Lefkof.
Madzey, the team’s captain, was a standout at the East Division Top Prospects Showcase this season. Armed with terrific instincts with his stick and a high hockey I.Q., Madzey is a stalwart on the back end. Lefkof, meanwhile, finished second on the team in scoring as a defender, logging four goals and 36 assists over 36 games. Lefkof will finish his junior career with 86 points in 83 regular season games at the NA3HL level.
Scouting the Titans
The Titans are led by two lethal scorers in Brandon Avesov and Philippe Doucette. Avesov tallied 27 goals and 37 assists in 35 games, while Doucette added 20 goals and 20 assists of his own.
Avesov has six goals and seven assists in eight games against the Jr. Hat Tricks this season. Shutting down the top line will be paramount for Danbury.
Even if the top line is negated, the Titans have a talented leader on defense in Eyan Gonzalvez-Helm. The Englewood, NJ native finished with 11 goals in 29 games as a blueliner, though none were scored against Danbury. He did have three assists in five games against the Jr. Hat Tricks.
How to Watch
Live streaming of the game will be featured on HockeyTV. Tickets will be available in limited quantity online HERE and at the Danbury Arena box office.
Written by Casey Bryant. Photo credit: Jim Stout, @prep_prospects