#USPHLNationals Elite Team Preview: Carolina Jr. Hurricanes 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 


The USPHL Elite National Championships are just about to start on Thursday, and you have to include the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes in the conversation to win it all – again. 

“I feel that Potomac, the Northern Cyclones and Atlanta are teams you need to keep an eye on,” said returning Head Coach Brad Gaylord. “And us of course!”

And why wouldn’t you expect the Jr. Canes to be in the final big mix? After all, they did win the regular season championship for the first time. They went on to win a two-game series with two very different games – an 8-1 victory and a 3-2 win against the Hampton Roads Whalers. That, of course, sent the defending National Champions back for another shot at glory, potentially becoming the first team to win back-to-back Elite titles in the current iteration of the conference going back to 2017-18. 

“I felt they played very well in Game 1. In Game 2 we went away from our game a little,” said Gaylord. “ If we want to defend our championship, we can’t do that at all in Utica. 

“It feels really good [to qualify again] and the players are itching to get the tournament started!” said Gaylord. “They all know everyone wants to beat the champs, so they have been practicing very hard. We have our plan of attack against our upcoming opponents for Games 1 and 2. With three practices left, we’ll be going hard and making sure all players understand the plan of attack.”

The Jr. Canes path at Nationals begins Thursday with the Chicago Crush, a first-year USPHL Midwest Elite Division team, and they also go up against the Islanders Hockey Club, who are making their fourth straight trip to the Nationals. Last year, they also met at Nationals, with Carolina winning 5-2, in a game partially overshadowed by a frightening injury suffered by Carter Radosta. Radosta returned this year to the Jr. Canes and is one of their top players, scoring 50 points. 

During the postseason, Gian Khani led the way with five points in two games, while three other returning players were also on top of their game. Jakson Furlotte and Nathan Rhodes each had four points, and both Colby Markham (the league’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen) and Luke Moses had three points apiece.

Ryan Kalina had 18 saves on 19 shots for the win in Game 1, and Anthony Trantas stopped 33 of 35 in the Game 2 victory. 

The Jr. Canes this year went 4-3-0-0 against Potomac in a fantastic series played throughout the season. In other games against Nationals teams, they’ve defeated Atlanta and Tampa Bay twice each, and they went up against the Rockets Hockey Club at the USPHL Tampa Showcase, also winning there.