A look inside the USPHL Premier Southern Divisions
By Jim DenHollander/USPHL.com, 01/16/19, 10:30PM EST
USPHL Premier South: Kings in bitter fight for fourth even after win over Whalers
Despite the satisfaction of knocking off the division leading, defending champion Hampton Roads Whalers, the Atlanta Kings ultimately wound up dropping a spot in an intense battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ultra-competitive USPHL Southeast Division.
After falling 6-1 at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex in Chesapeake, Va. Saturday to the host Whalers the Kings grabbed an 3-2 win in regulation time and handing the champs just its fourth loss (third in regulation) in 35 starts this season.
But the Carolina Eagles won a pair of close ones, 3-1 Saturday and 2-1 Sunday against the host Potomac Patriots at the Prince William Ice Center in Woodbridge, Va., to slip past the Kings and into the fourth and final playoff spot with a point to spare.
The other Southeast Division series on the weekend also ended in a split as the Charlotte Rush headed to Richmond’s SkateNation Plus for a pair against the Generals. The visitors took the first one 4-4 Saturday before the Generals bounced back with a 5-4 overtime edge on Sunday.
Kings 1 at Whalers 6
Kings 3 at Whalers 2
The host Whalers grabbed a 1-0 first period lead and still had a one-goal margin, up 2-1 heading to the third, but this one wasn’t secured until the home team fired three goals in the final 6:11 of the contest.
League leading scorer, Brandon Osmundson (‘98/Chesapeake, Va.) added one goal and three assists to his total.
The following day, the Whalers teams were even at 1-1 after 20 minutes and the home team again carried a 2-1 margin into the final period.
This time though the Kings rallied as Jacob Schnapp (‘00/Port Richey, Fla.) scored the tying goal 3:14 into the period and Aaron Szalankiewicz (‘99/Louisa, Va.) notched the game winner a little over three minutes later.
Eagles 3 atPatriots 1
Eagles 2 at Patriots 1
All three Eagles’ goals came in the third period in the first game, rallying the team back from a first period Patriots’ goal that stood up as the lone goal of the first 40 minutes.
Kalen Guimond (‘00/Fort Alexander, Man.) fired the lone Pats goal, Verners Fricbergs (98/Riga, Latvia); Matt Miller (‘99/Apex, N.C.) and Parker Jones (‘99/Raleigh, N.C.) counting the third period goals for the Eagles.
The Eagles had a 37-24 shots edge including a 16-4 margin through the final 20 minutes.
On Sunday all three goals came in the third including the game winner from Roman Solcani (‘98/Raleigh, N.C.) with 20 seconds to play in the contest.
Rush 6 at Generals 4
Rush 4 at Generals 5 (OT)
At Richmond on Saturday, the Rush owned a 1-0 lead after a period and carried a 4-0 cushion into the third.
The Generals charged back in the third and Ian Hoffman’s (‘99/Vancouver, Wash.) second of the game with 91 seconds to go had the home team within a goal.
But Matthew Jahn (‘98/Glen Allen, Va.) sank his second of the contest into an empty net to put it away for the Rush.
Jimmy O’Kane (‘99/Chicago, IL) and Ryan Newman (‘99/Bakersfield, Calif.) chipped in two assists apiece for the Rush.
The following day the Rush grabbed a first period lead again, up 2-1 after 20 and still clinging to a one goal lead with a 4-3 margin heading to the third.
This time the Generals rallied all the way back as Ethan Prout (‘99/Boulder, Colo.) evened it up with 5:16 to go, scoring the goal after setting up a couple of earlier markers and Stefan Owens (‘00/Midlothian, Va.) nailed the game winner in the overtime period, with an earlier assist as well.
The Whalers, Rush and Generals all kept pace with 1-1 weekends, the Whalers boosting their record to 31-3-0-1 for 63 points and a seven-point margin on the second place Rush who are also seven up on the Gens.
The Eagles have 38 points, one more than the Atlanta Kings and both have eight still to play including a pair against each other at the Polar Ice House at Wake Forest, Carolina Feb. 8-9.
In the four-team USPHL Premier Florida Division, the pressure is on the two front-runners to keep pace.
This past weekend, the now first place Eels did that, wrapping up a stretch of five straight games against the Florida Jr. Blades with five straight wins while the rival DME Swamp Rabbits won a pair against the Tampa Bay Junior.
The weekend started early for the Eels and Blades as they met mid-week to wrap up a game postponed after a period due to ice conditions earlier in the season.
The game began with the Eels up 3-2 entering the second period. The host Eels turned that into an 8-3 win at the Fort Myers Skatium, adding two more on the weekend, an 8-1 triumph at the Hertz Arena in Estero, Fla., on Friday and a 7-4 win to extend its current winning streak to six games at the Skatium again on Sunday.
The Swamp Rabbits and Juniors are also very much used to each other, playing their third and fourth consecutive games on the weekend. The Swamp Rabbits began with a 9-5 margin on home ice at the Daytona International Skateway Friday and traveled to the Florida Hospital Center Ice at Wesley Chapel, near Tampa Saturday for a 4-2 win, its third straight after the Juniors won the first game back from the Christmas Break earlier in the month.
Blades 3 at Eels 8
Eels 8 at Blades 1
Blades 4 at Eels 7
On Wednesday, the Eels picked up where they left off, firing three second period goals to carry a 6-3 edge into the third.
Jared Figueroa (‘99/Scotch Plains, N.J.) scored three in the game for the Eels, with Jacob Handfast (‘99/Stockholm, Swede) adding two goals and two assists.
At Estero on Saturday, the Eels grabbed a 2-0 first period lead and put it away with a 4-1 margin in the second.
Figueroa collected a second hat trick with an assist as well, Jean-Simon Robidoux (‘98/St-Agathe des Monts, Que.) added two goals and two assists with Gabriel Hemstrom (‘98/Stockholm, Sweden) also scoring twice.
The Eels held a 53-25 edge in shots in the middle game.
Finally, back at Fort Myers, the Blades trailed 4-1 after the third, but played mostly even with the Eels the rest of the way.
Nikita Pinimyasov (‘00/Moscow, Russia) paced the Eels’ attack with four goals and two helpers, Demeed Podrezov (‘00/Moskva, Russia) adding three goals and two assists. Holden Hertog (‘01/Fort Myers, Fla.) countered with a two goal game for the Blades.
Juniors 5 at Swamp Rabbits 9
Swamp Rabbits 4 at Juniors 2
The host Juniors grabbed a 2-1 first period lead but the Swamp Rabbits grabbed the lead with a pair of unanswered second period goals. Teams were even early in the third before the Swamp Rabbits grabbed control with six more, including four in the final seven minutes.
The Blades had nine different goal scorers in the game, Oliver Cloutier-Faucher (‘00/Sherbrooke, Que) adding two assists to his goal and Brandon Schwandt (‘99/Rockford, Mich.) setting up three.
For the Juniors, Zachary Puterbaugh (‘00/Prior Lake, Minn.) scored two and added an assist with two assists for Paul Flidr (‘00/Prague, Czech Republic).
Teams took turns firing two unanswered goals in this one – the Rabbits in the first and third and the Juniors scoring both of its goals in the second.
Maksim Penyshkin (‘99/Ufa, Russia) scored twice for the Swamp Rabbits with Danil Avdioukhin (‘98/St. Petersburg, Russia) collecting a goal and two assists.
The midweek win pushed the Eels into top spot in the Florida division with a two-point edge on the Rabbits who have played two fewer games. The other positions are all but settled, the Juniors 17 points behind the Rabbits and 10 up on the Blades.
The Swamp Rabbits and Eels still have three head-to-head contests remaining including the lone game for both teams this weekend in Fort Myers on Saturday. Both the Blades and Juniors enjoy a weekend off.