Wesley Chapel, FL -
Friday night the Juniors hosted the Eels for the first leg on the home and home series. A decisive 5-2 win for Tampa set the tone. Judd Ginther buried his 9th of the year on a quick transition play up the ice started by Joe Potter stretching the ice. Potter's stretch pass found Adam Custable at the attacking blue line where he drew a defender towards him and slid it to a streaking Ginther for a mini breakaway. The Juniors didn’t give the Eels much time to calm things down, as Artjoms Kadnikovs (4) found the back of the net just 45 seconds later, with assists coming from Noah Weisjahn and Tim Ruf to make it a 2-0 lead just 1:47 into the game. Connor Nelson (20) would extend the lead to 3 on a nice passing play from Jonah Mortenson and Beau Courneya, before the Eels were able to grab a goal back with 6 minutes remaining in the period.
The second period was much the same from Tampa; Heavy, fast, and relentless play. Artjoms Kadnikovs (5) picked up his second goal of the night with a beautiful shot from the point through a screen. Judd Ginther (10) also picked up his second tally of the night when the Eels goaltender Caron carelessly mishandled a puck at the top of the circles.
Onni Taskila’s workload was a little heavier in the TBJ net for the third period, but he stood tall on all 16 shots that came his way in the final frame, including a few multi save sequences.
Tampa Bay’s second leg of the home and home series this season hasn’t historically gone in their favor. Sunday, however, was a statement game for the Juniors.
Jonah Mortenson (11) opened the scoring just halfway through the first period, on an incredible solo effort shorthanded. Mortenson picked off a pass and battled through two Eels players before earning a breakaway and sliding it five hole on a beautiful move. Ryan Bahula and Judd Ginther would combine for a great zone entry on the Power Play, Ginther’s pass to a trailing Joe Potter set up the perfect shot pass for Bahula to redirect it in the net for his 11th of the season.
Jack Fleer (10) found the back of the net on the Power Play thanks to another beautiful zone entry and quick passing play from Joe Potter and Ryan Bahula. With just under 5 minutes left in the middle frame, Beau Courneya (18) tallied the 3rd PP goal of the game from the Juniors on a rebound sequence that saw Mortenson and Connor Nelson picking up assists.
TBJ continued their relentlessness in the third period with Jonah Mortenson (12) scored yet another shorthanded breakaway goal after Beau Courneya out muscled the Eels and fed it to a streaking Mortenson. Connor Nelson (21) buried a beautiful breakaway move off a transition play where Eliot Bergbauer picked off a pass and fed it to Jonah Mortenson who laid the pass behind the lone Eels defender in the zone. The Florida eels were able to spoil Blake Mons' shutout bid on a long sequence in the TBJ zone.
Key stats from the weekend:
Blake Mons and Onni Taskila combined for a 60 save weekend on 63 shots, good for a 95% save percentage.
Jonah Mortenson, Artjoms Kadnikovs, Connor Nelson, and Judd Ginther all picked up multi goal weekends, while Joe Potter tallied 3 assists.