The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club has captured the USPHL Florida Elite Division title for the second consecutive year.
TBJ was able to secure the division title with a 4-3 win over the Florida Eels Sunday at the Skatium. The Eels shocked many in attendance, bringing forth their best game of the season, but TBJ was able to best the Eels for the 7th time this season, in front of a largely TBJ dominated fanbase.
Jackson Drysdale started the scoring, stemming from a nice give-and-go play with Kyle Ciaccio early in the second period. With a late goal in the end of the period, and another tally 5 minutes into the final frame, the Eels took a 2-1 lead. An unsportsmanlike penalty assessed during the Eels’ goal celebration put Tampa on the Power Play. It took Brody Horoshak just 23 seconds to deflect a shot-pass from Parker Chadwell to tie the game up at 2-2. The eels would take the 3-2 lead with 6:16 remaining in the period.
Tampa responded again just 1:12 later to tie it up at 3 apiece. Roco Selivanov carried the puck with grace through the neutral zone, dangled the defenseman, and froze the goaltender before sliding the puck over to Trent Gephart to hammer into the open net.
The game may have looked like it was headed to overtime, but Carson Schuldt had other plans for TBJ. The ’01 defenseman joined the offensive rush, picked up the puck at the attacking blue line, and used the Eels’ defenseman as a screen as he rifled the puck off the post and in for the eventual game winner.
Winning the Florida Division Title is just the next step in TBJ’s path to success this year. TBJ coaching staff believes that winning a regular season title is the earmark of a team that has truly progressed both as players and teammates, as well as young men. With only one regular season game remaining, TBJ is preparing for playoffs, with their eyes set heavily on a national championship come March.
A deeper dive into the the Juniors Elite team:
Amongst the youngest teams in the league, with 12 junior level rookies on the roster. The average age being just under 18 years old on the TBJ roster. TBJ has 3 of the top 20 rookies in the USPHL ELITE in scoring (two of which are 2002 born), with the other being the top scoring defenseman in the league.
On the topic of scoring, TBJ leads the entire league in goals for at 224 goals in 43 games, good for an astounding average of 5.2 goals per game.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Tampa Bay Juniors Elite team is that the roster is made up almost entirely of Tampa Bay locals. This significant accomplishment shows not only the talent in the area, but more-so speaks to the development model set forth by TBJ coaches. The idea that you must be from the north, or recruit a significant chunk of your roster from foreign countries at the Elite level has been proven to be a thing of the past by TBJ players.