Week of Oct. 18, 2022
Florida will be fully back up and operational, at least in USPHL hockey terms, this coming weekend. The four Florida teams – including the Fort Myers-based Eels and the Estero-based Blades, both located in the hardest hit area of southwest Florida – are hitting the ice against each other in a two-day, two-conference mini-tournament known as the Florida Cup. In both the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite Conferences, the Florida Cup will crown one champion. In Saturday’s first round games for both conferences, the Florida Eels and Palm Beach Typhoon will play, and the Tampa Bay Juniors will face the Florida Jr. Blades.
On Sunday, the winners of the Saturday games will face each other in each conference’s Florida Cup championship game, and there will also be consolation/third place games for Saturday’s losing teams. The schedule for Sunday is to be determined and will be posted on USPHLElite.com and USPHLPremier.com on Saturday evening once all Sunday match-ups have been determined, to allow for the easiest travel situations for Palm Beach and Tampa Bay.
For now, let’s take a spin around the Florida and Southeast Divisions to check in on which teams continue to perform well, what they did this past weekend and what they have coming up.
(Records Reflect The Team’s Performance Since Oct. 10)
Atlanta MadHatters (2-0)
The MadHatters, who were idle from game action since the USPHL Southeast Showcase, got back into action and came out shining in a big way with a sweep of the Columbia Infantry. In one weekend of action, two wins pushed them from fifth in the division to third. The MadHatters made their first-ever trip to Columbia and won their games 6-3 and 7-4 to make the big standings jump.
- This was the MadHatters’ first time getting a weekend sweep against a common opponent since Jan. 22-23, 2022, when they defeated Palm Beach in two (a subsequent trip to Palm Beach saw a split.)
- It also marked their most goals since putting up 12 between Feb. 7-8, 2021, during the Hub City Tampa event. Their record for goals in consecutive games remains 14 from a weekend sweep of the Florida Jr. Blades over Feb. 8-9, 2020, when they scored seven in each of two games.
- Jayden Price leads the way for the MadHatters with 15 points through nine games (4-11-15). The second-year ‘04 had a goal and six assists in this weekend’s sweep and 2-6-8 in his last three straight games.
- Cooper Lundberg (‘05) and Noah Crabb (‘04) each have seven points in their last three games.
- With his Saturday win in net, veteran Taveon Dees (‘03) remains undefeated in regulation early on (1-0-2-0, .902 save percentage).
The Road Ahead: The MadHatters are off from game action this weekend, and will make a three-game trip to Palm Beach, Fla., next weekend for a trio against the Typhoon.
Tampa Bay Juniors (1-0)
The Juniors, coming off a prior weekend’s three-point split against Columbia, continue to find their feet and have been able to put points together over three straight games for the first time since opening with three wins between Sept. 16-24. They defeated Palm Beach, 8-2, in their only action of this past weekend, on Friday. Three of the Juniors’ five wins have been against the Typhoon early on.
- Daniel Cullen (‘04) more than doubled his prior point total, as he entered the Palm Beach game with three points and posted a 2-2-4 line in that game to stand with seven points in seven games.
- Goaltender Dylan Bruce (‘05) has been impressive in net recently, making 53 saves on 57 shots in his last two games. His .944 save percentage is tied for the Elite’s best among goaltenders with at least five games played (shared by Carolina’s Tristan Falsetto, who also has six games so far).
The Road Ahead: The Juniors face the Florida Jr. Blades on Saturday in the first round of the two-day Florida Cup. Their Sunday opponent will be determined by Saturday’s outcomes. The Juniors overcame a 1-0 series deficit to win their 2022 playoffs series 2-1 against the Jr. Blades last March. Not counting playoffs, their all-time regular season matchup is dominated by Tampa, which has only lost four times in more than 40 meetings since 2017.
Nashville Spartans (3-0)
The Spartans ventured out of the Southeast Division for the second time this season for three games at the Elmira Jr. Enforcers, and have thus played in one more non-divisional game than within the Southeast Division. They will increase the non-divisional number by five after back-to-back weekends against the Jersey Hitmen and Columbia Infantry, before returning to Southeast Division competition Nov. 5-6 against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.
The Spartans left no doubt as to the winner against Elmira over three contests, increasing their final margin of victory from three to four to eight, at least after originally trailing by one goal in Game 1 and tying their first period of the three-game series 2-2.
- Frank Tsiouvaras, Gabriel Williams and Gino Indelicato each had four points over the three games, Sebastian Zamborsky put up three points in his two games, Brandon Wolfenbarger had a 2-1-3 line in his season debut, and both Drew DePuydt and Tobias Nevak had points in all three games.
The Road Ahead: Nashville is back on the long road this weekend to face the Jersey Hitmen for three games, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Nashville being a first-year team, these squads have no history, but both have nine points in the standings and their goal differential is literally one goal off in Jersey’s favor.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (2-0)
Currently the No. 1 team in winning percentage (.909) and tied for first in points (20), the Jr. Canes are coming off a successful weekend of sweeping the Hampton Roads Whalers.
After a decisive Saturday victory, Sunday was a lot closer at 6-5.
- The Jr. Canes now sit with the second best offense (5.8 goals per game) and the second best defense (1.6), and are outscoring their opponents by 4.2 goals per contest.
- Carolina is also No. 1 in shots on goal per game at 44.90 and third in shots against at 26.60.
- Jacob Gifford (‘04) has 8-11-19 over 11 games to rank sixth in the USPHL Elite scoring race.
- Carter Radosta (‘05) is on an active four-game scoring streak at 2-5-7, all in October. He had scored three points in September and then matched that in his first October game.
- Goaltender Tristan Falsetto (‘02) is pulling down victories in every game over a month, with his only loss way back on Sept. 17. He is 4-1-0-0 with a 1.37 goals against average and a .944 save percentage, thanks in large part to a 3-0 run since Sept. 25.
The Road Ahead: The Jr. Canes have their first meetings with the Columbia Infantry this weekend, going up against them in a home-and-home Friday and Saturday, starting at home.
Charlotte Rush (1-0-1)
It was a close weekend, but the Rush eked out one single more point than the Defending National Champion Richmond Generals, falling in a 2-1 shootout and winning 6-5 in regulation for the weekend. Spencer Barrow scored the game-tying and eventual game-winning goal.
- Benjamin Pearson (13 points) and Wesley Sweitzer (12 points) are ranked second and third in scoring among defensemen. Sweitzer is also the league leader in power play goals (six) and power play points (seven) and Pearson leads all D in game-winning goals (two).
- The Rush are second in goals for at 43.54 points per game.
The Road Ahead: The Rush are headed off to face the Potomac Patriots for a two-game set Saturday and Sunday. On Jan. 2, 2022, the Patriots registered their first-ever USPHL Elite victory over the then-defending National Champion Rush, who have otherwise dominated their 30 all-time meetings.
Richmond Generals (1-1)
As seen above, the Generals/Rush weekend, featuring the two most recent Elite National Champions (Richmond in 2022, Rush in 2021) came exactly as advertised – two knock-down, dragout close games. Richmond took the first in a shootout by a 2-1 score, with third-year Ian Dracoulis (‘04) scoring his first shootout goal and that stood as the game-winner.
In Game 2, the Rush and Generals literally traded goals throughout the first and second, but the Rush got the first and last of those periods. Both teams scored a pair in the third with the Generals taking a one-goal lead in the third, before Charlotte closed out with a pair including Spencer Barrow’s heroics.
- The Generals and Rush have now split four of their five weekend series going back to the start of 2021-22.
- The Generals, led by ‘05 Brian DeLumen (16 points in 14 games), have seven players in double digits early on here in the season, tying them with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes in that category.
- The Generals are second in shots on goal (42.07) and second in fewest shots against per game (25.29).
The Road Ahead: Saturday and Sunday feature the Hampton Roads Whalers hosting the Generals in another chapter in the long-standing “Battle of Virginia.” Richmond holds a decisive lead in the all-time series of 26-11-5-0, thanks in large part to a 9-1-0-0 run going back to the start of last season.