#USPHLPlayoffs: Florida Eels vs. Atlanta MadHatters

Florida Eels (2) vs. Atlanta MadHatters (3) 

All Games Played At Fort Myers Skatium, Fort Myers, FL

Saturday, March 9, 9:30 a.m. EST

Sunday, March 10, 12:30 p.m. EST

Monday, March 11, 9:30 a.m. EST 


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com 


The Atlanta MadHatters Elite team would love to recapture what they once had and lost, and that was only due to a global pandemic. They had beaten Tampa Bay in the Florida Division playoffs to advance to the USPHL National Championship – which was canceled the same day as Major League Baseball, NASCAR, NCAA sports and the NHL also all canceled their seasons. 

The Florida Eels have been one of the staples of the USPHL Elite National Championships, making it the last two seasons in a row after also reaching the mark in 2019. Both teams have something to prove. 

“I am expecting this series with the Florida Eels to be a battle. They are a very well-coached team that has always been one of the best programs in the USPHL. Throughout the season we have played hard fought games going back and forth with the Eels. I feel this playoff series will be the same,” said Atlanta Head Coach Tyler Casillo. “If we stick to our game and stay disciplined in all three zones, I am expecting us to have a great showing. Our team is hungry to make a statement to the league that we don’t only belong here but expect to win in big series like this one. This is one of the best matchups in all of the country at the Elite level.” 

“We are expecting a great matchup,” added Eels Coach Mitch Hill. “Both teams match up very well against one another and they all have been close games. They are a good team that can roll four lines so we are expecting this to be a fun competitive series this weekend.”’

The series was split at 3-3-0-0 during the regular season. In their last meeting, Atlanta came away with a 3-0 shutout – one day after an Eels 1-0 shutout win. Throw a dart and you might hit the winner and the score on any given day. 

In terms of shutouts, the MadHatters got four out of veteran netminder Jackson Bernier, who finished 9-5-2-1 with a league-leading .952 save percentage. Christian Amato was also in the top 10 for save percentage with a .928 mark. 

“The Florida Elite Division is one of the most competitive in the country, and this year was no different. As an organization we feel great about the growth our group has had throughout the season,” said Casillo. “The team was built from the net out with Jackson Bernier and Christian Amato both having stellar seasons. This season, we came in with the expectation to compete for a chance to go to Nationals, and we did just that.” 

The MadHatters’ top four scorers were all Elite veterans, starting with Will McLaughlin and Colby Sims (39 points apiece), William Blair (35) and Gordon Shindelman (32). Hayden Spencer, with 22 points in 33 games, was a huge presence on D. 

For the Eels, a trio of newcomers set the offensive tone. Fynn O’Neill was the leader in points with 51 in 43, while Zayn Haddon-Harris and Alex Cochran each scored 42. Julian Gagnon returned to the team at midseason and scored 16 points in his 14 games. Sean Burke led the defense in scoring with 23 points in 24 games, while veteran J.J. Diaz led in blocked shots with 49 and plus-minus with +39. 

In net, Nate Haas (15-3-0-0) and Anthony LaCroix (10-7-1-0) were a formidable tandem throughout the year. 

“We’ve been approaching the postseason with preparation in our details,” said Hill. “Being sharp structurally in our systems and making sure our habits are playoff ready to compete.”