The Florida Eels Elite team came off a “Shootout” win on Saturday evening. It was huge for the boys. Their first win of the season. Their Home Opener and Season Opener no less. It was a great feeling for many of the boys. Their first Junior game for many. Indeed, 18 players on the Eels roster who never played juniors prior to this game. Twenty-six who never played for the Florida Eels. This is like a brand-new team. So you could only feel and sense the anxiety, nervousness and enthusiasm in this locker-room and on the ice.
Well, they were training for 4 weeks at the Florida Eels training camp. But their training was primarily skill based. Only one week was attention placed with their team. But despite their young age and being a new group of guys, they did very well. In game one they took it to OT with a 2-2 end of regulation score vs the Atlanta Mad Hatters. The boys quickly discovered that the Mad Hatters were a solid club. And despite us putting the puck in the net twice, Atlanta was a strong team and could equally score. The game went into OT. At the end of OT, the 3 on 3 for 5 minutes the score remained 2-2. Dead even. Now the boys were getting a true taste of Junior hockey and how competitive our Florida Division really is. The game went into a shoot-out and at the end of the 3 man shoot-out, it still remained tied. So, it was forced into “Sudden Death.” The Eels came up victorious. What a phenomenal experience.
The Eels Elite garnered their first win. They had that one under their belt. And for many, so much of this was their first. Including a quick turn around with the next game Sunday morning 10:15 am. That was equally grinding. They appreciate now why they worked so hard on conditioning. Much of the past 4 weeks was conditioning. Early mornings. 5-6 hour days. 6 times 7-8 hour days. It was as much physical as well as mental training.
Well on Sunday, the boys were back and facing the Mad Hatters once again. This time they would face a Mad Hatters team ready to avenge their loss. They had resolve and determination. The Eels could not enjoy their win too long. No time for complacency. That was another lesson to be learned this weekend.
In game two the Eels came out even hungrier. For a young inexperienced team, they showed poise, determination, and fortitude. They struck early and often putting 5 pass the Mad Hatters netminder. But they fell victim to taken a few shifts off and learned rather quickly how potent and well coached the Mad Hatters team was. They were determined as ever. Cagey and shifty. In fact, they put 3 passed the Eels veteran goalie and gave a scare to our squad. But the Eels conditioning and skill set overtook their Divisional rivals and the Eels came up on top 5-3.
The Eels swept the weekend. They won both games. They earned 4 points. Tonight these guys are very excited. But they once again will have a short time to celebrate. They have a few days to prepare for the upcoming showcase in North Carolina. They square off against their rivals from the Southern Division, the Hampton Road Whalers, The Richmond Generals, the defending National Champs the Charlotte Rush and the Potomac Patriots. These are all extremely formidable opponents. The Generals, the Rush and Hampton all won National Championships over the past recent years. Additionally, Potomac has upset the Eels in these showcases repeatedly over the years. You can count on the Eels to bring their best game. They are 100% dialed in.
This is “Baptism by Fire”. Twenty teams in all will be there. Premier and Elite. This has been a well-attended showcase by college scouts. That will be a first for many of our guys as well.
We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario and schedule. We want to play the best. So, it will be done. And they will see how serious we are as well.