The Tampa Bay Juniors took both games of a home and home set with the Palm Beach Typhoon. Despite Palm Beach’s record being subpar, they put up quite a battle against a Tampa team vying for first place. At home, the games were electrifying.
Premier had an overtime thriller, while the elite game was tied late in the 3 rd period. On the road however, Tampa was able to pull away and take care of business with a pair of comfortable wins.
Another OT Thriller
For the 3rd time in three games, the Juniors and Typhons would end up in overtime. The Juniors would open the scoring early in the first with a goal from AJ Beugen. Palm Beach would tie the game on a goal from Patrick Connolly. Then in the last minute and a half, Tampa Bay would strike for two. Britt Courneya would walk in from the corner and put one off a Typhoon defender to get his first of the year and give Tampa Bay the lead. 38 seconds later, a defense zone faceoff win led to a 2-on-1. Beua Courneya hit Judd Ginther who put it home to give the Juniors a 2-goal lead and all the momentum heading into the locker room.
The first half of the second was evenly played. Both teams played well defensively, and neither team really had an edge. Tampa Bay would add another goal by Noah Weisjahn to extend their lead to 3. Once again however, the Juniors would struggle to hold a 3-goal lead and would eventually watch it dissipate. Palm Beach would score two goals in 44 seconds to end the 2nd period. Then 20 seconds into the 3 rd Ethan Tamborski scored directly of the faceoff to tie the game at 4-4.
Overtime was a back-and-forth affair. Both teams went up and down the ice. Tampa Bay had two breakaways including one by Ryan Bahula. On the other end, Palm Beach’s best player Vesse Lampen had numerous scoring chances, that were denied by Blake Mons. With just under a minute left in OT, Britt Courneya collected a rebound along the boards and skated up the wing. Artjoms Kadnikovs came with him down the wing and was able to put Courneya’s pass into the net for the game-winner. It was a much needed win for premier who avoided dropping 3-in-a-row.
For as close as Friday’s game was, Tampa Bay dominated the Typhoon. They played fast and physical. Although Palm Beach outshot the Juniors in the 1 st period, they were able to keep them off the board and went to the locker room scoreless. From then on out it was all Tampa Bay. Tampa outshot the Typhoon 17-10 in the 2 nd while Judd Ginther got his 5 th of the year to open up the scoring. The Juniors would then score 3 goals in the span of 3 ½ minutes in the
The Courneya brothers led the way. Beau and Britt would combine for 3 goals in the span of 3 ½ minutes. Beau would pick up his 7 th and 8 th of the year. Then 18 seconds later Britt would add his second of the season to give Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead. Palm Beach would add one garbage time goal but were shutout for the meaningful part of the game. After blowing another 3-goal lead Friday, the juniors did a fantastic job of clamping down defensively. Now the question becomes can they do it consistently.
Elite wins late
Despite Palm Beach having a 1-10 record, the Elite game was just as close as the premier contest. The first period was very evenly matched. Neither team spent long periods of time in the other’s end. However, Adam Creighton would scoop up the loose puck in front and slide it in to give Tampa a 1-0 lead in what would be the only goal of the period. The 2nd period was much like the 1st.
Although Tampa had better opportunities, the game was still tightly contested. Both teams would score as Milan Levcenko would give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead, but 1:32 later Palm Beach would cut the lead to one. With the score close Palm Beach came out of the locker ready to play. They would score 3-minutes into the third to tie the game, where it would remain for most of the 3rd.
With just over 4 minutes left to go, it seemed like Tampa had broken through. Jake Duhaime redirected a shot from Levcenko to give the Juniors a late 1-goal led. However, it would not last long as 54 seconds later Zach Zamiello would score off the faceoff to tie the game. Both defenses looked to lock things down, as it became more likely that the next goal would be the deciding one. Then with 2:40 left to go, Levcenko put the game on his stick. Levcenko would cut to the middle and fire a shot past Micheal Libutti for what would turn out to be the game winning goal. Bryson Uhrig would put the nail in the coffin as Tampa would skate away with a 5-3 victory.
Following the Script.
Much like premier, Elite was much more dominating on Sunday. Adam Creighton would score the only goal in the first period. Then Tyler Cullen would add his 8th and 9th of the year, while Creighton would add his second of the game and third of the weekend. Nash Cobbs would also pick up his first of year given Tampa Bay a 5-1 lead heading into the third. Although they would allow two more goals in the third, the damage had already been done and Tampa Bay would walk away with a total weekend sweep.
The Tampa Bay Juniors will face their toughest test when their rivals the Florida Eels come to Advent Health Center Ice on Friday. Premier holds a 2-point edge while elite has a 6-point edge on the first place in the division. However, the Eels have 6 games at hand. This makes Friday’s matchup pivotal for Tampa Bay. With this many games to made up, it is crucial to deny Florida points whenever they can. The Eels’ Premier is unbeaten in regulation through 9 games, their only defeat came in a shootout to the Richmond Generals at the Southeast Showcase back in September. Florida Elite squad only has 2 losses that both came at the Southeast Showcase to the Richmond Generals and Charlotte Rush.
The Rivalry has been long standing so make you tune in to HockeyTV for Elite puck drop at 5:30 while premier goes at 8:15.
Photo by Alex Walworth