Premier: Eels 8, TBJ 2
The Tampa Bay Juniors 7-game win streak was snapped after an 8-2 thumping by the Florida Eels. In a battle for first place in the Florida Division, the Eels set the tone early, scoring on their first shot just 30 seconds into the contest. The Eels doubled their lead at the 7:35 mark of the first to cap off a dominant first period. The Juniors were only held to three shots in the opening 20 minutes. The Juniors upped the offense pressure in the second but it was no match for Florida. The Eels extended the lead to three, 11:41 into the period. TBJ found their first answer through Jon Stouffer’s first of the season at the 16:15 mark. The Eels took a 3-goal lead into the break after scoring on the power play with just 1:02 left in the second.
The Juniors were granted a crucial must-score power play early into the third. The great opportunity proved calamitous, as Tampa gave up two short-handed goals just 24 seconds apart. The Eels continued their offensive barrage with a goal to make it 7-1 at the 4:28 mark. Demeed Podrezov completed his hat-trick with a little under five minutes left to give Florida a seven goal lead. The Juniors found a consolation goal by Derek Walker at the 18:39 mark. Following the loss, the Juniors fell to 9-2-0 on the year and gifted sole possession of first place to the Eels.
Elite: TBJ 7, Eels 6 (OT)
The Tampa Bay Juniors pushed their winning streak to 11 games, winning a 7-6 overtime thriller against the Florida Eels. The Juniors got off to a flying start with Adam Custable scoring 3:36 into action. His linemate, Ryan Bahula, doubled the Juniors’ advantage eight minutes later. The Eels got a goal back at 12:53 into the period to cut the lead in half. Two minutes before the break, Brennan Robbins scored his second goal in as many games to restore the TBJ two-goal lead. Tampa made it a 4-1 game with Jordan Campo’s goal 3:18 into the second. In the blink of an eye, the Eels had a response 12 seconds later. The Juniors regained their three-goal cushion at the 7:23 mark with Ryan Bahula’s second of the game. The Eels came back in full force, scoring three unanswered goals to knot the game at five going into the third period.
Ryan Bahula completed his hat-trick by scoring his league-leading 17th goal of the season at the 6:38 mark. As they did all night, the Eels had another answer. They evened the game back up with 10:10 remaining in regulation. For the third time this season, TBJ went to overtime. As the Juniors were changing out forwards, Tyler Cullen streaked into the zone 1-on-3 and scored the game-winner 1:24 into the overtime period. The big win extended TBJ’s division lead to eight points. Ryan Bahula, Adam Custable, Jack Fleer, Filip Kuba, and Justin Walker all finished the game with multiple points. Ethan Leigh made 38 saves as the Juniors improved to 11-0-0.
Elite: TBJ 4, Eels 3 (OT)
The Tampa Bay Juniors prevailed in overtime for the second game in a row, taking down the Florida Eels 4-3 at the Fort Myers Skatium. James Jorge opened the scoring 11:59 into the game after a nice combination with his linemate, Bryson Uhrig. A relatively strong first period by the Juniors was spoiled as the Eels scored with just 3.6 seconds left in the first. The two teams played a scoreless, back-and-forth second period. Tampa controlled the pace for the first 10 minutes of the second but was holding on defensively during the later stages of the middle period.
The offense got rolling for both teams in the third period. The Eels wasted no time taking their first lead of the game just 69 seconds into the third. Four minutes later, Martin Raynov’s knucker from the left point found its way through to even the game up at 2. The Eels regained the lead 28 seconds later, cashing in on a fortuitous bounce. For much of the third period, TBJ had no answer for Eels goaltender Jacob Mork. At the 16:59 mark of the third, Adam Custable put away his own rebound to finally give the Juniors a breakthrough. Sixty minutes wasn’t enough for the second game in a row. The Juniors were given a 4-on-3 power play in overtime, an opportunity they would not waste. With 2:04 left in OT, Tyler Cullen came off the bench and ripped a slapshot home for his second overtime game-winner of the weekend. James Jorge, Bryson Uhrig, and Nash Cobbs all finished with multi-point games as the Juniors mustered 54 shots on goal. Evan Spinella stopped 30 shots en route to the Juniors’ 12th win in a row.
Premier: TBJ 4, Eels 0
Cade Kujawski stopped all 33 shots he faced, as the Tampa Bay Juniors rebounded with a 4-0 win against the Florida Eels. Tampa opened the scoring 9:28 into the game. Adam Zimmermann was stopped on the breakaway but Jon Heller was perfectly placed to put home the rebound for his first goal of the season. The Eels led in shots 11-8 as the Juniors took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The two teams traded minimal chances in the second period. Tampa was able to clench to their 1-0 lead.
The start of third period was a microcosm of the first 40 minutes. Both teams traded quality chances but could not get the better of the two netminders. At the 13:23 mark of the third, Maxwell Barrington’s seeing-eye wrister gave the Juniors some much needed insurance. TBJ sealed the deal with a highlight reel tic-tac-toe goal at 16:38 of the third. Keegan Johnson and Stanley Lucas combined well to setup Colton Sipperley’s third of the season. With 54 seconds remaining, Derek Walker found the back of the net to put the exclamation point on a comprehensive 4-0 TBJ victory. Derek Walker and Stanley Lucas were the only two Juniors with multiple points. Cade Kujawski returned to form in a big way, earning his first shutout of the season and second of his TBJ career.
Photo by Earth Life Studios