Both Eels Teams Do Very Well at the USPHL Hampton Showcase
Over five days, from Thursday, Sept. 22, through Monday, Sept. 26, all of the Southeast and Florida Division teams gathered – alongside four additional teams from three other divisions – and got a good read on which teams might just be the power-brokers. The whole scene took place at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex in Chesapeake, Va., home of the Hampton Roads Whalers and site of the 2021 USPHL National Championships.
Many of the recent Nationals staples fared best, re-establishing themselves in a whole new season as the kings of their respective hills. Each team played four games against non-divisional opponents. Below, we take a look at the teams that came out of the weekend with at least a .500 record.
Charlotte Rush (4-0-0-0)
Well, they’re 7-0 overall, so it stands to reason that the Rush swept the event held in the same building where they won the 2021 National Championship. Playing in the second of two clusters of teams, they started with a marquee Saturday night matchup against the Florida Eels – a rematch of the aforementioned 2021 title game. The Rush yielded a point to the Eels (one of two they would cede this past weekend, without losing any of their own) with a 4-3 overtime victory. Aidan Quinn stood tall with the GWG.
After a 6-0 win over the Hershey Cubs on Sunday, they finished that day with a 6-4 victory against the Palm Beach Typhoon. Their final game was Monday against the Tampa Bay Juniors, who they also beat 4-3 in overtime off a Shane Adler OT game-winner. Hunter Berry has scored in every game this year and went 2-4-6 at the showcase and Swiss import Livio Azevedo posted 1-5-6 in scoring in every game.
Richmond Generals (4-0-0-0)
The top two USPHL teams in points – the Rush and the Generals – came out of the five-day event clean. The Generals had an even cleaner time than their Charlotte rivals, coming no closer than three goals ahead of their opponents. They started out with a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta MadHatters, followed by a 7-2 defeat of the Midwest East Division’s Motor City Gamblers. AFter a 7-0 Friday evening victory over the first-year Columbia Infantry, the Generals ended with a 4-1 defeat of the Florida Jr. Blades. Richmond leads the league in offense with 47 total goals, and just a fraction short of six goals per game on average. Jack McCandless (2-4-6), Garrett McCabe (1-4-5) and Matthew Hamacher (4-1-5) all registered points in each of the four games.
Florida Eels (3-0-1-0)
The Eels started out with the aforementioned Saturday Night Main Event of the Rush vs. Eels 2021 National Final rematch. They also got right back into OT on Sunday against the Great Lakes Division’s Columbus Mavericks, giving that team their only point for the weekend. Veteran Eel Damon Kiyawasew sank the GWG in the 5-4 victory that saw the Eels go down 1-0 early. The Eels took a 4-2 win over the first-year Nashville Spartans and closed Monday with a 4-1 win against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. Another veteran Eel, Collin Patterson, scored a goal in each game and added an assist. At 6-0-1-0, the Eels remain undefeated in regulation and sit atop the Florida Division standings.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (3-1-0-0)
This was the weekend the Jr. Canes needed, as it helped push them back above .500 on the early season. Arriving on Saturday, they defeated the Tampa Bay Juniors that night 3-1, followed the next morning by a close 3-2 defeat of the Palm Beach Typhoon, their first come-from-behind victory of the season.
They pushed past the Mid-Atlantic Division’s Hershey Cubs by a 9-4 score but in their final game – and the final game of the showcase on Monday afternoon – they fell 4-1 to the Florida Eels (the same organization they met in the 2021 National semifinals, also in Chesapeake). Zach Nicholls came out of the event with points in every game, putting up a 2-3-5 for the weekend.
Hampton Roads Whalers (3-1-0-0)
The hosts started out on the wrong foot a bit with a 4-0 shutout loss to the Florida Jr. Blades. From there, it all looked up as the Whalers finished strong going 3-0 the rest of the way. They beat the Columbia Infantry, 5-2, had an offensive burst against the Motor City Gamblers in a shutout win and then closed out on Saturday with a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta MadHatters. They gave up just three goals in their final three games total, thanks in large part to efforts such as goaltender Jack Nowicki stopping 51 of 54 shots in his two wins.
Florida Jr. Blades (3-1-0-0)
Playing in the first group of teams that started on Thursday, the Blades kicked off their showcase run with a 4-0 victory over the host Hampton Roads Whalers. Sal Carabelli stopped 23 saves in a game where the Jr. Blades were outshot but persevered with the W. They were outshot yet again (and were down 1-0) versus Potomac on Friday, but came back to win 4-3. After a clear shutout victory against the Wooster Oilers later on Friday, the Jr. Blades were in action Saturday morning against the Richmond Generals, who came away with the 4-1 victory. Ironically, this was a game in which the Blades held a 1-0 early lead.
Potomac Patriots (3-1-0-0)
The Patriots kicked their showcase run off with a decisive shutout win over the Wooster Oilers, but were unable to make it two in a row (as of yet), when the Jr. Blades handed them a 3-2 loss on Friday. Right back into action later that day, the Patriots defeated the Atlanta MadHatters by a 4-2 score. Saturday saw the Patriots close their showcase with a big offensive showing against the Motor City Hockey Club. Newcomer Oscar Sjolander was the only Patriot to score in all four games, posting a 3-4-7 line in the Southeast Showcase.
Tampa Bay Juniors (2-1-1-0)
The Juniors started out Saturday with a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, but returned Sunday with a 1-0 shutout victory over the Nashville Spartans. Onni Taskila stopped 19 shots. After a 3-1 win on Sunday night against Columbus, they finished with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Charlotte Rush.
Nashville Spartans (2-2-0-0)
The first-year Spartans enjoyed making some history with their first two victories in the USPHL Premier. It came late on Saturday night, when they defeated the Columbus Mavericks, 3-2. A.J. Benit scored the first game-winner in team history, and his goal was deemed so when the Mavericks scored their last within the final minute of the game, trying to force overtime. On Sunday morning, the Tampa Bay Juniors took the 1-0 shutout win against the Spartans, and then later in the day, it was a 4-2 defeat to the Florida Eels. Nashville bounced back Monday, however, defeating the Hershey Cubs by a 5-0 score, also clinching their first-ever shutout victory. D.J. Lyons had the win, and the team defense shared the credit by limiting the Cubs’ shots on goal to just 12.
Palm Beach Typhoon (2-2-0-0)
The Typhoon saw one of the greatest comebacks potentially in recent USPHL history. Down 3-0 entering the third period to the Hershey Cubs, the Typhoon rattled off seven third period goals, fueled in part by two goals scored by Declan Stitt. Energized by this, the Typhoon held a 1-0 lead over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes on Sunday morning, but eventually fell by a 3-2 score. The Typhoon played the Charlotte Rush close, coming out of the second down by just a 4-3 score. The Rush, however, closed it out with a 6-4 defeat of the Typhoon. Palm Beach closed their showcase stand with a bounceback 6-3 victory against Columbus.
The USPHL Southeast Showcase Presented by LTD Hospitality and hosted by the Hampton Roads Whalers wrapped up Monday, Sept. 26 after originally opening on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Check out how the best USPHL Elite teams fared at the showcase, as we take a look at all teams that finished with at least a .500 record.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (4-0-0-0)
Last year’s showcase hosts are on defensive fire early on. They’ve lost just once overall so far, but they continue to frustrate teams in both the goal and shots on goal department. They started out with back-to-back shutouts on Saturday and Sunday, taking down the Florida Jr. Blades and Tampa Bay Juniors by matching 4-0 scores. Jacob Sanders and Pavel Matiunin were shutout beneficiaries of suffocating efforts by the whole team that saw 13 shots against by the Jr. Blades and 18 by Tampa. Their shutout streak stretched to 49:21 in their third game before the Palm Beach Typhoon broke their bid for a third straight donut, scoring with 1:39 remaining in a 5-1 Jr. Canes win. They finished on Monday by defeating the Florida Eels by a 4-2 score.
They gave up just 15 shots in both the Typhoon and Eels games, averaging 15.25 shots against per game at the showcase. The shutdown is on for the Jr. Canes!
Hampton Roads Whalers (4-0-0-0)
The Whalers’ outstanding Thursday to Saturday run helped elevate them from a rough start to much better standing at .500 coming out of the showcase. They had the toughest route to an undefeated record of any team at the showcase, going to overtime or shootout in three of their four games. Taryk Filipuzzi’s second goal of their first game was the OT game-winner in a 4-3 win over the Atlanta MadHatters on Thursday.
He scored his third to get the Friday morning game started, but the Florida Jr. Blades tied it up in the second. No further team play could settle the matter, so into the shootout it went. Out of 14 shooters, only the Whalers’ Michael Yelle was able to score and the Whalers got the 2-1 win. They were able to breathe a bit more in a 6-1 win over Columbia, but they ended with another OT extravaganza against the Nashville Spartans, winning 3-2. Santino Capone’s second goal was the deciding factor.
Charlotte Rush (3-1-0-0)
The Rush found themselves in a push-and-pull game against the Atlanta MadHatters. It was only a 4-3 lead for Charlotte not long after the mid-game ice cut. They eventually outlasted their plucky opponents with a 7-5 win.
The razor’s edge wasn’t done with them yet. Midday on Sunday, they were down 5-3 after the second. A third-period 3-0 advantage for Charlotte ended up being the difference in a 7-5 win.
Game 3 wasn’t any easier – and ended up with their first loss. Tied 3-3 late in the game, the Florida Eels scored with 1:09 left. Even in their final game, a 4-1 win over Tampa, they were only up 2-1 after two periods. Tyler Tonucci led the way over the showcase with points in every game, totaling two goals and four assists for six points.
Florida Eels (3-1-0-0)
The Eels were right up there with the Rush in terms of one-goal games – all of their wins were by a single marker. First, they met the defending National Champion Richmond Generals, coming away with a 3-2 victory. Next up, they were tied 4-4 late against the first-year Nashville Spartans, but a goal with just 21 seconds remaining for the 5-4 victory. One of their biggest tests was going up against the Charlotte Rush. Again, they were tied late, but Justin Deshaies scored the GWG with 1:09 remaining for a 4-3 victory. It was the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, who went undefeated in Virginia, who broke the winning run by defeating the Eels by a 4-2 score. Jacob Godbout posted a 3-3-6 line over all four games, and improved to a 7-6-13 total in his seven games this year.
Potomac Patriots (3-1-0-0)
The Patriots came out firing on all cylinders in their Thursday opener, putting up a 7-1 victory against the Columbia Infantry. Friday saw a slightly more modest but still satisfying victory, a 3-1 mark against the Atlanta MadHatters. Later on in the day, they saw yet another two-goal margin of victory in defeating the Florida Jr. Blades by a 5-3 score. In their final game, they were on the other side of the two-goal margin, falling by a 3-1 score on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Juniors. Zarand Varga has scored in every game so far this season, and posted a 2-8-10 line in his four games and now leads the Elite with 18 points in six games.
Richmond Generals (2-1-1-0)
The defending National Champion Generals came into the Southeast Showcase undefeated, but saw that distinction fall in their final pair of games. To start, they defeated the Florida Jr. Blades 4-1 and then shut out Columbia by a 4-0 score.
Possibly the biggest shockwave came on Friday when they fell by a 5-4 score in overtime to the Atlanta MadHatters. The Gens started out behind 2-1 in the first and while they were eventually able to earn a point by getting to overtime, Cooper Lundberg’s goal for Atlanta ended the proceedings. Trae Schanberger had his third straight game of scoring two goals when the Gens faced the Florida Eels, and he gave the Generals a 2-1 lead going into the third period, but two unanswered Eels goals saw a 3-2 final for the Fort Myers-based squad.
Palm Beach Typhoon (2-2-0-0)
The Typhoon saw a bit of a grab bag of results from the Southeast Showcase, but they came out at least even. The second-year Typhoon started with a 5-4 overtime track meet with the first-year Columbia Infantry, with the winners powered by a four-goal effort by Lucas Nichols (including the OT GWG). Another one-goal showdown followed, but this time went the way of the Charlotte Rush. The Typhoon held a 5-3 lead after two periods, but a three-goal third by the Rush settled the matter at 6-5 in their favor. A 5-1 loss to the red-hot Carolina Jr. Hurricanes followed, but the Typhoon did break a Jr. Canes 151:21 shutout streak at the event. A four-point effort by Sean Boltin (2-2-4) pushed the Typhoon to a Sunday morning 6-1 victory over the Nashville Spartans to close their showcase stand.