#USPHLPlayoffs: Carolina Jr. Hurricanes vs. Hampton Roads Whalers

Southeast Division 

Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (1) vs. Hampton Roads Whalers (4)

All Games At Pineville Ice House, Pineville, N.C. 

Saturday, March 9, 11:30 a.m. EST

Sunday, March 10, 11:30 a.m. EST

Monday, March 11, 11:30 a.m. EST (If Necessary)


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 


The old adage “Nothing is given, everything is earned” will certainly apply to the USPHL Elite’s No. 1 team this year, the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes – who also just happen to be the defending National Champion from 2023. 

A 37-5-0-0 record gave them a league-leading 74 points and the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Division and overall in the USPHL. 

The Hampton Roads Whalers enter the 2024 playoffs after missing the postseason in 2023, so this is big redemption time for the first USPHL Elite Champions (in 2018). 

“Carolina is the defending National Champions and again the No. 1 team in the USPHL Elite this season. Coach [Brad] Gaylord does a tremendous job and his team is loaded for a run at another title with plenty of experience,” said Whalers GM Brad Jones. 

“What I expect from Hampton is I expect them to come out ready to go. They’ll come hard and finish checks,” said Carolina Head Coach Brad Gaylord. “They’re a young team that’s gotten better and we can’t take them lightly.”

The Jr. Canes won each of the two teams’ seven games this season, though that’s only a black and white number, because the real story is the fact six of the games were decided by three or fewer goals. If the Jr. Whalers’ goaltender Jean Berthaudin, who set the single season and career record for shutouts this year with eight, can get red hot, it might spell serious trouble for the Jr. Canes.  

“We came into the season knowing we had a young squad with loads of potential. Coach [C.J.] Sweigart has pushed our guys all season and their development has been fun to watch,” said Jones. “We come into this series well-prepared, and expect to take the experiences that have galvanized our group all season and challenge the top dog for a bid to Nationals.”

Up front, Robbie Rajnys came in for the last 19 games of the season and registered 19 points to lead the way in terms of points per game. Defenseman Hudson Hinich (26 points in 39 games) finished as the top scorer for the Whalers. 

For the Jr. Canes, they had a number of veterans who earned championship rings last year come back, and five of these players averaged better than a point per game for the whole season. Luke Moses led the team in scoring with 51 points in 33 games (1.55 per game), while Carter Radosta (50 points), Nathan Rhodes (47) and the 40-point duo of Zackary Rich and Jakson Furlotte were absolute leaders throughout the regular season. Gian Khani was a newer player who also put up 40 points on the season. Colby Markham once again led the defense, this time with 39 points in 35 games. 

Carolina was the only team to have two goalies in the top 10 for wins, in Ryan Kalina (13) and Anthony Trantas (14). They were also there in save percentage, with Kalina posting a .934 and Trantas putting up .930. 

“I expect our guys to execute our systems, play with speed, especially in transitional play,” said Gaylord. “We’ve been cleaning up our systems on both sides of the puck in all three zones [in practices this week]. Most important, and they all know this, and that is to play together and enjoy the moment and have fun!”