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TBJ Elite Playoff Preview: Top-Seeded Juniors Face-Off Against Atlanta

03/04/2021, 5:30pm EST
By Tyler Davey

The Tampa Bay Juniors Elite team takes on the Atlanta Mad Hatters in the first round of the Florida Playoffs.. All three games will take place at the Fort Myers Skatium, starting on Saturday at 12 pm. The winner of the series will punch a ticket to nationals. The USPHL Championships will be hosted at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex in Chesapeake, VA, home of the Hampton Roads Whalers.

Scouting the Juniors

Tampa Bay won the 2020-21 Florida Division Regular Season title. They finished the regular season with a 28-13-3 record and an eight-point lead atop the division. Tampa’s 59 points was the fourth most in the league, behind the Charlotte Rush, Richmond Generals, and Islanders Hockey Club. The Juniors’ division title was the third in four seasons. TBJ started the year on a franchise-long 15-game winning streak. Tampa’s 198 goals scored was second in the league, trailing only the Charlotte Rush (211). Ryan Bahula finished the year tied for the league lead with 64 points (31 goals, 33 assists). Adam Custable also totaled 60 points, fourth most in the league. Evan Spinella and Ethan Leigh shared duties in net this season. Both netminders finished with 13 wins. Spinella led the way with a 2.69 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

Scouting the Mad Hatters

The Atlanta Mad Hatters clinched the final spot in the Florida playoffs with a 15-18-8 record. Their eight overtime losses was with second most in the league, behind the Springfield Pics who had 10. Atlanta fell to the four seed much in part to the recent surge of the Charleston Colonials. Atlanta finished four points behind Charleston and 16 points ahead of the Florida Jr Blades. Sebastien Zamborksky was the far and away leader for the Mad Hatters. He finished the regular season with 19 goals, 12 assists, and a team-high 9 power play points. Ben Alwardt, Gabriel Lessard, and Nolan LaCroix have all chipped in between the pipes. Ben Alwardt led the team with 16 appearances. He notched a 4-9-3 record, a 3.41 goals against average, and an .890 save percentage.

Season Series

The Tampa Bay Juniors won 6 of 9 meetings with the Mad Hatters this season. Tampa picked up a three-game sweep of Atlanta at AdventHealth Center Ice back in November. Atlanta got their revenge at their home barn, winning two of three games against TBJ from January 15th to 17th. The Juniors won two of three in the final series of the year against Atlanta in February. Five of the nine meetings have gone to overtime, including all three January matchups in Atlanta.

Weekend Schedule @ Fort Myers Skatium

Game 1: Saturday, March 6th 12:00 PM

Game 2: Sunday, March 7th 9:00 AM

Game 3: Monday, March 8th 12:00 PM

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