After an exciting opening night and weekend to the Tampa Bay Juniors season, elite produced a 2-0 start to the year. Sweeping the Palm Beach Typhoon in a home-and-home series. Premier on the other hand starts the season off 1-1 after losing to palm beach opening night, but rebounding with a win against the typhoon on Sunday in Lake Worth.
Elite’s 2-0 Start
Tampa Bay started off opening night with an Elite win by a score of 3-1. It took the Juniors a while to get going, but once they did heat up, they were hard to stop. The Juniors outshot Palm Beach by a total of 20 shots which was one of the storylines in the elite game. Furthermore, Elite really used their speed to their advantage to get opportunities. The Juniors were able to escape corners and create openings out in front that resulted in high danger chances. Tyler Macindoe, Gabe Elie, and Carter Trussler all found themselves on the scoresheet scoring their first of the season. Kevin Dionne who had a big game (however, not necessarily on the scoresheet) picked up his first assist as a Tampa Bay Junior. Dionne was all over the ice for the Juniors as a member of the top line.
Moreover, Elite was able to secure the win in their first matchup of the season. However, the Typhoon didn’t take it lying down and look much improved. Dylan Bruce who only gave up one goal on 26 shots had some tough saves to make that came to be big late in the game.
On Sunday, Elite came out with a lot of fire as they finished the sweep over Palm Beach in route to a 2-0 record. Elite opened the scoring just a minute into the game as Ari Blatt was able to secure his first goal as a Tampa Bay Junior. Part of a first period that turned out to be the deciding factor for the Juniors. Tampa Bay finished the first with 4 unanswered in goals. Furthermore, the Juniors were successfully able to execute their gameplan and really show off their high-powered offense. This elite squad can skate extremely well and move the puck with efficiency. The Juniors really exemplified that in both their games through the first weekend of their season.
Premier’s 1-1 Start
While Elite had an ideal start to the season, Premier struggled in their opening night game falling to the Typhoon 5-3 on last Friday night. Tampa Bay and Palm Beach had a very even start to the game as both teams were deadlocked until a penalty shootgot the Typhoon on the board. Despite being down 1-0 after one, the Juniors didn’t give up as Tampa Bay was able to put up two quick goals from Ryan Walsh and Milan Levcenko. However, Palm Beach would counterattack with two more of their own in the second period and add another two in the third which eventually closed the Juniors out in game one of their two game series.
The Juniors showed they could clearly keep up with Palm Beach but struggled with putting away chances late in the game. Connor Nelson spoke after the game about how “Palm Beach really didn’t do anything we didn’t expect they just were able to play the body really well which threw the team off.”
Two days later the Juniors would show that they were way better than they showed on opening night. Winning dominantly on Sunday by a final score of 5-1. The Juniors played much better in their second game of the season as they portrayed what they are capable of. Tampa Bay was able to demonstrate their passing skills and ability to move throughout the offensive zone.
Another big part that played into the win on Sunday was the great performance by Onni Taskila. Taskilla, who stopped 29 of 30 shots, picked up his first win of the year. The second-year goaltender for the Juniors looked outstanding in a game that meant a lot for this program. The Tampa Bay Juniors premier team was able to end the weekend of 1-1 and bounce back well following an opening night loss.
Expectations for the Future
Following the conclusion of opening weekend for the Tampa Bay Juniors there’s a lot to take in about both teams. One can see both teams have a ton of talent. Furthermore, looking onto the next couple weekends expecting the teams to start coming together as they move further on into the season.
Despite their talent, both teams will need to have better starts for them to have more success. For the Juniors ,Palm Beach was more of a feeling out series. That being said, you can expect to see a much better fundamental juniors’ lineup which really focuses on that pass first mindset.
Now the Juniors will prepare to head to Virginia for the Southeast showcase hosted by the Hampton Roads Whalers. Both teams will play a plethora of games Saturday through Monday, highlighted by a date with the Charlotte rush for both the Premier and Elite squads. Both teams this coming weekend will have their opportunity to show what they are capable of in some intense games against top notch southeastern opponents.