By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
The Florida Eels hosted the Florida Cup, which they summarily dominated and won to set one of the major headlines in the South Region of the Premier.
They were not alone in picking up a loss-free week, as the league points leaders the Richmond Generals went 3-0 against both their Virginia rivals, the Hampton Roads Whalers and the Potomac Patriots; and the Nashville Spartans continued on their torrid streak of six wins against Mid-Atlantic Division opponents; and the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes swept their first-ever series against the first-year Columbia Infantry.
Let us dive into all of this as we continue to marvel at the resurgence of the Eels, Florida Jr. Blades and the whole Fort Myers area. The USPHL extends our sincerest condolences to the families of anyone who lost a loved one to Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the Gulf Coast just a few miles north of Fort Myers – and nearby Estero, the home of the Jr. Blades.
Richmond Generals (3-0-0-0)
The Generals were able to breathe a sigh of satisfied relief, coming all the way back from a tough 0-2 weekend against one rival (Charlotte Rush) to sweep another, this time from within their home state of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Whalers. The Whalers did take a point from their home series at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex in Chesapeake, falling 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday, Oct. 22. It was all Richmond taking the points on Sunday, 4-1. The Gens then headed north to Prince William, Va., and defeated the host Potomac Patriots this past Wednesday, 4-2.
- The Generals have taken points in all four of their games against the Whalers, going 3-0-1-0 so far in the season series, with one of those wins being the aforementioned shootout.
- The Gens are more than comfortable with shootouts. They were second in the league with five of the 1-on-1 challenges last year, going 4-1 (Wisconsin Rapids led with a 5-1 record last year in shootouts – and the Northern Colorado Eagles won all four of theirs).
- Richmond’s 3-0 run outperformed Charlotte’s 1-1 weekend, helping the Generals bypass the Rush into first place in the entire USPHL Premier with 29 points off a 14-2-1-0 record. Charlotte remains second as of Friday afternoon, at 13-1-0-1 for 27 points. Hampton Roads is third at 23 points, giving the Southeast Division a 1-2-3 lead atop the league points race.
- The Generals have given up no more than two goals in their last three games, and they are fifth in the Premier in goals against at 1.65, which ranks No. 1 among teams with at least 10 games played.
- Jesse James Aitken (‘04), a new arrival from the Boston Advantage, registered the shootout winner in his Generals debut on Oct. 22.
- Jack McCandless (‘02) leads the Generals in total scoring with 20 points in 19 games, while the ‘03 veteran Garrett McCabe is at 19 points in 13 games. He has improved his career points totals to 58 through 57 games.
- Goaltender Jadon Lee is ninth overall in save percentage (1.48) and 11th in save percentage (.945), but first in both categories among goaltenders with at least 10 games played. Lee is tied for second in games played at 10, and is third overall in minutes played at 569. Lee and Charlotte’s Nick Anderson are tied for first in wins with eight apiece.
The Road Ahead: The Generals go into a Saturday-Sunday series in Morrisville, N.C., against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, their first two meetings this year. All-time, Richmond leads the series at 19-10-2-0.
Nashville Spartans (3-0-0-0)
The Spartans continue to roll around the country, seeing the world – and beating the world, certainly the Mid-Atlantic world. They got their second 3-0 weekend sweep of a Mid-Atlantic team in a row, capturing three W’s against the Jersey Hitmen. They won 6-2, 6-3, 5-4 to go back to Nashville happy campers. On Saturday and Sunday, they finally get to play their first true home games at Gary Force Acura Ice Arena. Technically, the Spartans are already 1-1-0-0 at home as they were the “home” team twice at the USPHL Southeast Showcase. But now it’s time to actually rock Nashvegas.
The Spartans currently hold the division’s longest active winning streak at 6-0. Charlotte had the best overall so far at 10-0 from Sept. 9 to Oct. 8.
- The Spartans have put up 33 goals over the course of their six-game winning streak, good for an average of 5.5, which is far better than their 15 total goals scored in their first eight games.
- Jakob Holley (‘02) holds the team scoring lead with 16 points in 14 games. A third-year Premier veteran, he has already more than doubled his point totals from the two prior years combined. He scored 12 points in two seasons with the Atlanta MadHatters. Holley’s USPHL career goes back to the Elite level in 2019-20.
- Daniel Duzek (‘06) has a 4-0 winning streak in net, helping to pick up two-thirds of the recent six wins.
The Road Ahead: It’s the first meeting of two first-year teams in the Spartans and the guest Columbia Infantry.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (2-0-0-0)
The Southeast Division is crowded with insanely good teams, as seen above with the trifecta at the top of the league points race. The Jr. Hurricanes enter this weekend at fifth place in the division – with a 9-4-0-0 record. Their 18 points would be good for first place outright in five other divisions and a tie for first in two more. And those 18 points would be good for second place in the two remaining divisions.
The Jr. Canes just came off of their second straight weekend sweep, picking up wins of 5-4 and 6-4 against the Infantry.
- Their five straight wins are an early season high, one short of their best run from last season, when they went 6-0 between Sept. 18-27, 2021.
- The Jr. Hurricanes are undefeated when scoring the first goal of a game, standing at 7-0 when they kick off the offense.
- Fourth-season USPHL Premier veteran Nigel Morris (‘02) is on a four-game point streak, putting up 2-4-6 in his last four games. Second-year Jr. Cane Zach Nicholls (‘03) also has points in his last four, posting 4-1-5 to push him up to 13 points in 11 games.
The Road Ahead: As seen above, the Jr. Canes have the Richmond Generals this weekend, in what will be their first two of six straight home games leading right up until the Carolina Cup outdoor game against Charlotte on Nov. 18.
Florida Eels (2-0-0-0)
With winning differentials of four and five goals last weekend, the Eels left no doubt as to who is No. 1 in the state of Florida. The Eels dominated the Florida Cup in wins of 8-4 against Palm Beach and 5-0 against the Tampa Bay Juniors. The Eels remain undefeated in regulation, suffering only an overtime loss to the Charlotte Rush at the USPHL Southeast Showcase.
In spite of the challenges of dealing with a Category 4 hurricane landing in their home city, the Eels definitely proved they didn’t miss a beat while out of game action for almost a month of cleanup and recovery.
- The Eels have not scored less than three goals in any of their games so far, good for a 5.33 goals for average, the best of any team east of Detroit.
- They were happy to get their first shutout of the season, and hope for many more. The Eels had two shutouts in 2021-22, and none later than Sept. 25, 2021.
- Veteran Damon Kiyawasew is on a goal-scoring streak of five games already, with a 6-1-7 line within that overall scoring streak. He leads the Eels with 12 points in eight games this season, and has improved to 42 points in 40 all-time games with the Eels.
- Collin Patterson, also a returning veteran, has points in his last six games (4-4-8) and first-year Eel Liam Hennessy is on a five-game scoring streak (4-5-8).
The Road Ahead: The Eels hold a very slim lead against the Juniors – whom they face on Friday and Sunday in a home-and-home series – as they are up 21-18-2-0 all-time.
Tampa Bay Juniors (2-1-0-0)
The Juniors quickly rebounded from their shutout loss to the Eels to defeat the Florida Jr. Blades for the second time in four days by an identical score of 4-2. They defeated the Jr. Blades first on Saturday to advance to the USPHL Florida Cup Final and then again by the 4-2 score in a Tuesday afternoon tilt. The Juniors stand at second in the division at 6-5-1-0.
- It’s been an up-and-down season for the Juniors, who have only been able to string together wins once, and both on the same day. They defeated the Nashville Spartans, 1-0, and the Columbus Mavericks, 3-1, in their two-game day at the USPHL Southeast Showcase on Sept. 25.
- The Juniors are all about scoring by committee. No one who has played in at least 10 games has a point per game average or better, but 20 skaters have at least one point. Connor Nelson, with 10 points in 12 games, leads the way. Relative newcomer Aleksandrs Ostankovics, with six points in six games, has the best point per game average of 1.00.
The Road Ahead: See above for info on their all-time series with the Eels.
Potomac Patriots (1-1-1-0)
The Patriots scored just their fourth all-time win against the Charlotte Rush this past weekend, defeating them 3-2 in regulation, following a 4-3 overtime loss one day earlier. The Patriots went on to face the first place Richmond Generals this past Wednesday, Oct. 26, and fell by a 4-2 score.
- It’s been more than a year since the Patriots split a weekend series with Charlotte, going back to Oct. 16-17, 2021 the last time it happened. The Rush swept the teams’ last three weekends in the 2022 portion of last season’s calendar.
- While there have been split weekends between the teams, this is the first time that Potomac has ever come away with three points in a weekend against Charlotte.
- Max Nystrom’s four-game scoring streak of 2-4-6 has put him into a three-way tie for the team scoring lead with 19 points, along with Matvei Naumov and Valerii Kneib. Volodymyr Borodenko, an ‘03 Ukraine native, has posted a team-leading active 5-4-9 scoring streak over his last seven contests.
The Road Ahead: The Patriots head up north to New York to face the Elmira Jr. Enforcers for two games, their first two in history for both squads.
Charlotte Rush (1-1-0-0)
The Rush very nearly had the full win in Game 1 of the Potomac Patriots series last weekend, but the Pats scored a game-tying goal with just 1:28 remaining in the third.
- Hunter Berry’s team-leading 11th goal was the game-winner in overtime, his second GWG this year but first in the extra session.
- Livio Azevedo (28 points) and Berry (25 points) are the only two players from teams east of Minnesota to rank in the top 10 of league scoring.
- In the second game against Potomac, Azevedo saw his scoring streak snapped at 11 games, resulting in 22 points in that stretch between Sept. 24 and Oct. 22.
The Road Ahead: The Rush take on the Hampton Roads Whalers this weekend for the first time between the historic rivals. Charlotte went 5-2-0-0 in the season series last year.
Drop The Pucks!