The Tampa Bay Juniors won in style this past weekend in Atlanta. Both
Premier and Elite won both of their games in convincing fashion as they
overpowered the Atlanta Madhatters. Both Elite and Premier scored a
combined 26 goals in the 4 games. Tampa was faster, more skilled, and
had the better opportunities, and were just the better team. Premier
has now won 5 in a row while Elite has won 3 of its last 4. Elite now sits
alone in first place with 14 points with premier in the same spot with 15
Elite opens the floodgates
Holding down the fort and taking advantage of opportunities is what
you’re supposed on the road, but Tampa Bay opened up the floodgates.
In game one on Saturday, Tampa Bay scored the first 4 goals while
shutting out Atlanta in the first 2 periods. Despite giving up a
shorthanded goal early in the 3rd , Cooper Hunt responded by scoring
two unanswered, quelling any hope of an Atlanta comeback. Even more
impressive was the fact that the team’s top goal scorer Bryson Uhrig
did not get one Saturday. 5 different players scored on Saturday while
Pranay Prasanna, Richard Biszant and Philip Wsol all got their first of
the season. Evan Spinella turned in a strong performance once again,
stopping 27-of-29 in the 6-2 win.
Sunday’s performance was even better. After allowing the first goal
nearly halfway through the first, Tampa Bay scored 8 unanswered
goals. Tyler Cullen and Brennan Robbins each scored two with James
Jorge, Tyler Macindoe, Aliaksandr Leskavets, and Uhrig all joining in. 12
different players would record a point while 5 recorded 2 or more.
Charles Garon would pick up his third win of the season stopping 30-of-
If there was one drawback to Elite’s performance, it was the
continuation of their lack of discipline. On Sunday Tampa Bay was
called for 6 penalties resulting in 5 powerplays. Saturday was even
worse taking 8 penalties resulting in 7 powerplays, including a 5-minute
major. The Juniors are the third most penalized time in all of elite. Their
saving grace? The penalty kill has been excellent. Despite hovering
above the benchmark at 81.2%, when giving up that many chances per
game, it’s a good number. Tampa Bay needs to do a better job of
staying out of the box because it could cost them down the road.
Premier takes care of business
Beating teams beneath you in the standing in considered taking care of
business, and that’s exactly what Premier did this weekend. It may have
not been the prettiest at times, but they got the job done and secured 4
needed points. On Saturday, Tampa Bay got to work early scoring the
first 5 goals of the game. The first one coming from the newest addition
Jonah Mortenson who would finish the weekend with 6 points. This
was followed by a late period goal from Justin Walker. In the second,
young gun Filip Kuba would put Tampa up 2 followed by Beau Courneya
and Connor Nelson who remains red hot. Nelson walks away from
Atlanta with a 5-game point streak and has scored goals in 4 of them.
After allowing two, Jackson Studebaker would collect his 1st of his
career to seal the deal. The best part about this game however was the
way Tampa Bay defended in 3rd
. Premier has struggled to hold onto large leads this season but would only allow
1 goal in the third securing a 6-3 victory.
Sunday’s game wasn’t pretty for either side as penalties were the story
of the game. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st with goals
from Walker, Mortenson, and Tim Ruf. Then Atlanta would jump on the
board halfway through the first. The odd part about it, was that all 4
goals scored in the first period were shorthanded. That must be some
kind of record. Tampa’s first two were on the same kill. It was a sign of
things to come. Ryan Bahula would get his 5th of the season before
things went downhill. The Juniors took five penalties in the 2nd period
including a 10-minute misconduct, a major penalty and a game misconduct.
Then early in the 3rd Tampa Bay would take three consecutive penalties, in which
the latter two resulted in 5-on-3. Given the circumstance the penalty kill did
quite well only allowing one goal on the major penalty and completely killing of
the 5-on-3 with the game tied. However, the sheer number of chances allowed
Atlanta back into the game.
After being down 3 goals and coming back to tie, it would be
Madhatter’s turn to take penalties. Atlanta took four consecutive
penalties to end the game, two of which resulted in a 1:46 5-on-3 for
the Juniors. This is where Tampa would win the game. After being in
the zone for the entirety of the 5-on-3, Jon Heller would tap home a
nice cross-ice feed from Beau Courneya and Nelson would put in the
empty-netter to seal the 6-4 win. Evan Spinella got a call up to premier
and played well stopping 25-of-29. Despite being a one of the most
sloppy games to date, the Juniors took care of business and walked
away with the only thing that matters. A win.
The Tampa Bay Juniors will play their second home and home series
with the Jr. Blades in 3 weeks this weekend. Florida’s elite team is
coming off a 6-5 loss to the last place Palm Beach Typhoon last
Thursday, but still are tied for second place in the division. Their
Premier squad picked up their second win of the season against Palm
Beach and currently sit in 4th place in the division.
Tampa Bay will need to continue to take care of business and stay out of the box
in order to keep their hold on first place. Elite will go at 5:30 while Premier’s
puck drop will be at 8:15. Both games can be streamed on HockeyTV.
Photo by Alex Walworth