Florida Eels Premier and Elite Teams Finish First In The Florida Division

Florida Eels Premier and Elite Teams Finish First In The Florida Division

By Frank Scarpaci, 02/24/20, 8:45PM EST


Both of the Florida Eels Premier and Elite teams finished first in the Florida Division. In fact, the Eels are the only program in the entire USPHL to have both of its teams finishing first in the Premier and Elite Divisions. That is amazing. What is even more phenomenal is the that the Eels Premier and Elite teams not only finished first over all in their divisions, they held on to that first place spot the entire season! It is an incredible accomplishment when a team is planted in first place for the entire season. That shows some impressive work and skill by the players and coaches. They had to be doing something right.


In the case of the Eels what makes this especially impressive is that 7 players from the Elite team were moved up to the Premier team including their top forwards Easton Moore from Alberta, Canada who had 11 goals and 24 assists; high energy forward from Montreal, Canada Ryan Goral; the Elite teams top defensive pairing of Clement Espinasse from France and Pavel Timochkofrom the Ukraine; ace goalie Alexandre Caronfrom Montreal; and rookie goalie Jeremy Vaillancourt from Montreal. Several other Elite players have also been brought up at various times during the season to help with injuries on the Premier squad. Generally, when an Elite team loses that many key guys, the team falters and slips in the standings, and quite frankly struggles to make the playoffs. Not the case with the Eels. It is a tribute to the Eels player development program to be able to train and develop players to take over and become impact players. And that is exactly what the Eels did.


You see the interesting thing about the Eels program is you won’t see our players in the top 10 in the player stats. This team is built on a balance attack. You will see on the Premier team for example 3 lines that could be a first line on any junior program in our league. And the 4th line would be a 2nd line anywhere. Our defense is the same. We can roll out line after line and it is seamless. On the Premier team we have: Jared Figueroa F (NJ) 21 goals 29 assists 50 points; Jens Petersen F (Denmark) 12 goals 35 assists; Demeed PodrezovF (Russia) with only 30 games played with 15 goals 31 assists; Jake Court  F (FL) 18 goals 33 assists; Gage Dill F (FL) 18 goals 32 assists; Adam Gaudet F (Montreal) 21 goals 18 assists; TJ Zebley F (FL) 12 goals 26 assists; Egor Nosov D (Ruusia) 7 goals 26 assists; Regnars Udris D (Latvia) 6 goals 23 assists;  Maksim Tereshchenko  F (Russia) 28 games 18 goals 10 assists and of course with the league’s top goalie Jakub Kostelny 27 games played 21 wins 1600 minutes .919 Sav% 2.85 GAA




On the Elite side you have top forward Gavin Medina F (CO) with 16 goals and 33 assists; Adam Burtzlaff  F (CO) 15 goals and 34 assists; Mikhail MelikovD (Russia) 21 goals 14 assists; Tanner SmithF (WI) 11 goals 22 assists; Matthew CliftF (CO) 13 goals and 18 assists Kaleb HarropF (STL) 15 goals and 10 assists; and  TJ McLeodF (CO) 7 goals and 15 assists and Anthony Sozio  F (FL)  with 30 games played with 6 goals 15 assists  and they have 3 of the top goalies in the league with multiple time player of the week and player of the month selections in Andrew Van Ooteghem(AZ); Karlis Mezsargs(LAV) and Thomas Steere(NH).


Even though both teams finished in first place, they have their eye on the big prize. The big picture:  Nationals. We know we cannot look that far ahead. The teams are in 1stplace in their Division and that means first seed in the Florida Division playoffs. The playoffs are held at a Mini Super site: The Fort Myers Skatium in Fort Myers, Fl. Represented in the Florida Division are teams not only from Florida but Georgia and South Carolina as well.


For the Premier Division it is the Florida Eels 1stseed, the Charleston Colonials #2 seed, Tampa Bay Juniors #3 seed, and the Florida Jr. Blades #4 seed.  On the Elite side it is the Florida Eels #1 seed, Tampa Bay Juniors #2 seed, the Atlanta Madhatters #3 seed and the Charleston Colonials #4 seed. The games are the best 2 out of 3 series and they commence this weekend Saturday February 29th, Sunday March 1st,and if necessary, Monday March 2nd.


The Eels are anything but complacent. They continue to follow their work out schedule – 3 hours minimum training a day. They are as focused and determined as ever. They are excited about finishing first in each of the divisions, but they know they are entering their second season and that is the playoffs. That is first and foremost on their minds.


Coach Frankie Scarpaci says, “the key to the Eels program is consistency.  Any program can finish first for one year.  The difference with the Florida Eels is that both teams have consistently been first or second in their divisions for well over a decade.  We have a tremendous track record of developing players.  We are one of the top programs in all of junior hockey to advance players to college.”

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