The Florida Eels Elite team had first place on the line. They were 2 points ahead of the Tampa Juniors. Tampa has been on their heels shy by 4points for weeks. Now Tampa was within striking distance. The Eels have owned first place in the Florida Division the entire season. Yes, that’s right the entire season. In fact, the Eels have been ranked number 1 in the entire USPHL Elite Division a good number of weeks throughout the season. This did not come easy. It was with a lot of hard work. Day in and day out. 3+ hours of training 5 days per week. They faced adversity throughout the season as a 7-8 players or so have been called up to the Premier team throughout the season. In fact, most have stayed there. This is a tribute to our player development model echoes GM Frank Scarpaci. We are extremely proud of this unit. Our job is developing all of our players. Not just to be in 1stplace and win the division or the playoffs. The ultimate goal is to advance players. Yes, first to the Premier team and to college.
This weekend our guys once again came through as they have done throughout the season. No, we don’t have 2-3 top scorers in the stat column. Our goal is to develop a balanced scoring and a balanced defensive and goaltending core. That is exactly what we have done. On Saturday we won in OT coming back from a deficit to gain 2 points which elevated the Eels up by 3 points in the standings. And on Sunday the Eels came storming scoring 5 goals to 2 vs the Tampa Juniors to bring give the Eels a 5-point spread.
Tampa still can overtake the Eels if they win their remaining 3 games and the Eels lose their remaining 3 games. The Eels appreciate that full well. You can be rest assured the Eels won’t take the remaining games lightly. They play Tampa this Sunday at home. That will be a key contest. If the Eels win, they go up by 7 points. If the Eels fall Tampa will come with in 3. The big question here is who the Eels play will come playoffs. If the Eels finish in 1stplace they will play Charleston . If the Eels finish 2ndseed, the Eels play Atlanta. So, let the games continue.
The following weekend the Eels close out the season with a home and away series vs their cross-town rivals the Jr. Blades. Wow it all comes down to the end of the season. Final games. And that is why it is so exciting here in the Florida Division.
Florida Eels 0 1 2 1 – 4
Tampa Bay Juniors 1 2 0 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Tampa Bay Juniors, Scheer 20 (Farley), 3:51. Penalties-Sozio IV Eel (interference), 7:07; Smith Eel (cross-checking), 19:05.
2nd Period-2, Tampa Bay Juniors, Scheer 21 (Keenan, Holman), 13:18. 3, Tampa Bay Juniors, Scheer 22 (Keenan, Bahula), 16:12 (PP). 4, Florida Eels, Smith 11 16:40. Penalties-Harrop Eel (hooking), 3:17; Espinasse Eel (cross-checking), 5:10; Keenan Tbj (tripping), 6:40; Bahula Tbj (holding), 9:43; Simbro Eel (delay of game), 15:57.
3rd Period-5, Florida Eels, Smith 12 (Espinasse), 6:56 (PP). 6, Florida Eels, Hoover 3 12:07. Penalties-Harrop Eel (interference), 2:51; Tillander Tbj (holding), 6:09; Woodring Tbj (high-sticking), 8:48; Simbro Eel (cross-checking), 8:50; Clift Eel (tripping), 13:42; Woodring Tbj (slashing), 14:45.
1st OT Period-7, Florida Eels, Melikov 17 (Medina), 0:21. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Florida Eels 13-11-11-2-37. Tampa Bay Juniors 17-15-12-0-44.
Power Play Opportunities-Florida Eels 1 / 0; Tampa Bay Juniors 1 / 0.
Goalies-Florida Eels, Steere 2-0-0-0 (44 shots-41 saves). Tampa Bay Juniors, Moschella 8-5-2-0 (37 shots-33 saves).
Tampa Bay Juniors 0 1 1 – 2
Florida Eels 1 3 1 – 5
1st Period-1, Florida Eels, Melikov 18 (Sozio IV, Medina), 12:14. Penalties-Espinasse Eel (holding), 3:17; Peters Eel (tripping), 6:18; Scheer Tbj (tripping), 7:13; Cioffi Eel (tripping), 12:29.
2nd Period-2, Florida Eels, Harrop 12 (Burtzlaff, Butler), 12:14. 3, Florida Eels, Medina 12 (Burtzlaff), 17:40. 4, Tampa Bay Juniors, Bahula 15 (Farley, Keenan), 18:44. 5, Florida Eels, Harrop 13 (Burtzlaff, Smith), 19:24. Penalties-Zamba Tbj (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:28; Sozio IV Eel (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:28; Friz Eel (hooking), 13:41; Espinasse Eel (misconduct-unsportsmanlike), 15:04.
3rd Period-6, Tampa Bay Juniors, Uhrig 8 (Farley), 13:32. 7, Florida Eels, Medina 13 (Smith), 19:42. Penalties-Castonguay Eel (roughing), 3:24; Friz Eel (cross-checking), 5:44; Woodring Tbj (high-sticking), 17:16.
Shots on Goal-Tampa Bay Juniors 9-13-13-35. Florida Eels 12-17-11-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Tampa Bay Juniors 0 / 0; Florida Eels 0 / 0.
Goalies-Tampa Bay Juniors, Spinella 7-5-1-0 (40 shots-35 saves). Florida Eels, Steere 2-0-0-0 (35 shots-33 saves).