#USPHLPlayoffs: Potomac Patriots vs. Charlotte Rush

Southeast Division 

Potomac Patriots (2) vs. Charlotte Rush (3) 

All Games to Be Played At Pineville Ice House, Pineville, NC

Rush Are Home Team For Game 2

Saturday, March 9, 8:30 a.m. EST

Sunday, March 10, 8:30 a.m. EST

Monday, March 11, 8:30 a.m. EST (If Necessary) 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 


The Potomac Patriots experienced some hard times in the USPHL Elite, but since the start of the 2022-23 season, they have been an absolute force to be reckoned with, putting up 67 wins in the past two years. The Patriots challenged for much of the year for the league and Southeast Division title, before the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes pulled away. 

The Charlotte Rush have reached the Elite National Championships four times – 2018 and 2021 through 2023, and they’re hoping to make it four in a row. 

“We are excited for a rematch of last year’s series vs Charlotte at the Elite level,” said Patriots Head Coach Alex Grose. “We have spent a lot of time preparing for these games, both on and off the ice. Our guys know what’s at stake and with a chance to be the first Patriots Elite team [to reach Nationals]  they are ready to take it.”

“In preparing for Potomac, we know there’s a ton of skill in their lineup,” said Rush Head Coach Trevor Kleckner. “They have a high-flying offense that can put the puck in the net at will and a lethal power play as well. We have to defend hard and make sure we play a disciplined game. If we can execute on those two things, I believe we’ll find success. Right now we’ve prepared enough and it comes down to ‘us vs. us.’ Our focus is on our game and what we need to execute on in order to win two games this weekend.”

The Patriots went 5-1-0-0 in the season series, including weekend sweeps on Dec. 9-10 and Jan. 20-21. They’ve already seen what it takes to win, even in the three one-goal games the teams played out of their six. 

“Our expectations this year are to beat Charlotte,” said Grose. “We know we are the faster, stronger, and more skilled team in the series, and we are determined to go prove that this weekend.”

Patriots Noah Ribeiro (72 points in 37 games) and the Elite program’s all-time scorer Liam Hanna (64 points in 39 games) both finished in the Top 10 league-wide in scoring, while on the D end, ‘07 star-in-the-making Kirill Golubev scored a league-leading 56 points in 34 games while also playing in the NCDC Young Guns prospects game at Boston University – and scoring the first goal in that game! Forward Ilya Biesiedin (22:00) led in ice time and faceoff wins (325, 58 percent), Ribeiro led in plus-minus (+34) and defenseman Yaroslav Alifanov led in blocked shots with 40. 

In goal, Christian Nalle went 12-2-0-0 with a .937 save percentage, both top 10 stats. 

For the Rush, Nicholas Grosso and Cy McCrink were the regulars in net during the season, with Grosso leading the way at 11-3-1-1. 

Up front, the Rush had outstanding seasons from veterans like Spencer Barrow (51 points), Yianni Tsatsoulis (48 points), Charles Norris (46) and Luke Vega (31 points in 24 games). Isaac McGregor was nearly a point-per-game producer this year. 

“In preparing for this postseason, I think we’ve been extremely detailed in teaching our structure. In the playoffs, it’s those little details that can be the difference between moving on or going home. For our group, we know that if we execute our systems and not get so tied up with our opponents tendencies, that we’ll have a ton of success,” said Kleckner. “These guys have battled extremely hard going all season long in buying into our systems and our culture. They should have all the confidence in the world heading into this weekend. 

“I think another huge part of it is how we handle adversity. Every playoff game there’s adversity to handle whether you go up a goal, down a goal, or a puck doesn’t bounce your way,” he added. “This group has done a tremendous job lately of handling adversity and staying the course. That will play dividends for us this weekend as well.”