The USPHL Tampa Showcase wrapped up on Monday, Jan. 9, after originally starting on Jan. 6. Teams at the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite representing a total of nine different divisions from across the two leagues came to the AdventHealth Ice Center in Wesley Chapel to face teams from other divisions (in most cases) and give themselves a great jump on the stretch drive coming off the Christmas break. We’ll look at the teams that performed best – at a .500 or better percentage – first at the USPHL Premier level.
Tampa Bay Juniors (5-0)
The hosts played five between Thursday and Monday, including the single game of the showcase to be held on Jan. 5. Their first game was a statement from the start, as they defeated the Fort Wayne Spacemen, 5-2, ending the Spacemen’s 14-game winning streak going in. After an 8-2 win over the Jersey Hitmen gave them their biggest margin of victory, they had their tightest game – a 3-2 OT victory against the Minnesota Squatch, which saw Connor Nelson hammer home the #OTGWG. They closed Sunday with a 5-1 win over the Metro Jets, two-time National finalists (2019, 2022). Monday saw the Juniors face the Minnesota Blue Ox and capture a 2-1 regulation win. The Juniors utilized their 5-0 run to go from fourth in the Florida Division to second.
Top Scorers (by position for all teams): Connor Nelson F (5-5-10 in 5 games); Artjoms Kadnikovs D (0-7-7 in 5 games)
Top Goaltenders: Onni Taskila, 2-0, 103 minutes, 44 saves on 45 shots, .978 save percentage (SV%), 0.58 GAA; Blake Mons, 3-0, 185 minutes, 79 saves on 84 shots, .940 SV%, 1.62 goals against average (GAA)
Palm Beach Typhoon (4-0)
The Typhoon were winners of all four games they played. They now sit just two points outside of the crowded Florida playoff picture. They improved from .478 to .571 in winning percentage as well. To start, the Typhoon were 6-1 winners over the Jersey Hitmen and then took a more decisive victory against the Minnesota Mullets. Their most talked-about game came on late Sunday night, when they battled to a 5-5 standstill with the Decatur Blaze until star Vesse-Wincent Lampen scored his fourth goal of the game with 0.1 seconds on the clock for a 6-5 victory. The Typhoon ended their run with a 2-1 shootout win against the Metro Jets Development Program.
Top Scorers: Derwin Hauser F (6-5-11 in 4 games); Martins Leps D (0-4-4 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Ethan Haglunc, 2-0, 125 minutes, 64 saves on 66 shots, .970 SV%, 0.96 GAA; Logan Givens, 1-0, 60 minutes, 14 saves on 15 shots, .933 SV%, 1.00 GAA
Charlotte Rush (4-0)
The Rush, second in the league, also own the Premier’s best overall active winning streak at 11 straight W’s. They stand just two points behind the Utah Outliers for most points in the league at 58 to the Outliers’ 60. After a 5-1 victory to start against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, it was a rematch of an epic Nov. 20, 2021, game when the Rush and Metro Jets got back to the ice together. A year ago, the Jets came in on a 20-game winning streak and the Rush were OT winners. It didn’t take OT here in 2023, as the Rush were able to earn a 4-1 victory. After next defeating the Minnesota Blue Ox, 7-3, on Sunday night, they defeated the Chicago Cougars on Monday, 4-1.
Top Scorers: Bryce Battaglia F (3-5-8 in 4 games); Cam Perez D (0-5-5 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Devin Stephens, 2-0, 120 minutes, 59 saves on 61 shots, .967 SV%, 1.00 GAA; Nicholas Anderson, 2-0, 120 minutes, 52 saves on 56 shots, .929 SV%, 2.00 GAA
Nashville Spartans (4-0)
The Spartans moved from fourth in the Southeast Division to third place, and will be spending the next six weeks fighting to keep a playoff spot in one of the Premier’s toughest divisions. The Spartans started with two games on Friday, defeating the Minnesota Mullets, 4-2, and the Minnesota Squatch, 6-2. Saturday saw a 4-3 overtime win against the Fort Wayne Spacemen (with Niko Schoner’s 35th goal of the year being the difference). They beat the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones, 5-1, on Sunday to close out their perfect weekend.
Top Scorers: Ronan Keenan F (4-5-9 in 4 games); A.J. Benit D (0-2-2 in 4 games), Gage Bowerman D (1-1-2)
Top Goaltender: Daniel Duzek, 3-0, 181 minutes, 70 saves on 76 shots, .921 SV%, 1.99 GAA
Atlanta MadHatters (3-1)
The MadHatters started the showcase Friday against the Minnesota Squatch with a 2-1 defeat, and then won both their Saturday games by scores of 4-1 against the Chicago Cougars and 3-2 against the Toledo Cherokee, who had the third best winning percentage in the USPHL Premier going into that game. The MadHatters finished with a decisive shutout win against the Decatur Blaze.
Top Scorers: Logan Gallagher F (2-6-8 in 4 games); Giovanni Grassi D (1-4-5 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Ryley Gross, 1-0, 60 minutes, 27 saves on 27 shots, 1.000 SV%, 0.00 GAA, 1 shutout; Byron Bayer, 1-0, 60 minutes, 21 saves on 22 shots, .955 SV%, 1.00 GAA; Patrick Colburn, 1-1, 120 minutes, 69 saves on 73 shots, .945 SV%, 2.00 GAA.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (3-1)
The Jr. Canes needed a big weekend to remain a player in the crowded Southeast Division playoff race. Their six-point run gave them just a five-point gap between their fifth place position and fourth place, the final playoff spot. The Metro Jets were 4-1 winners against Carolina in their first game on Saturday. Later that same evening, the Jr. Canes were big winners against the Chicago Cougars, hitting double digits in goals. They carried that confidence into a Sunday showdown with the Minnesota Blue Ox and registered a 5-0 shutout. They closed on Monday morning with a 4-1 victory against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.
Top Scorers: Ethyn Hopp F (4-4-8 in 4 games); C.J. Stucky D (1-7-8 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Phil-Antoine Trepanier, 2-0, 120 minutes, 44 saves on 45 shots, .97 save percentage, 0.50 GAA, 1 shutout; Tristan Falsetto, 1-0, 60 minutes, 38 saves on 39 shots, .974 save percentage.
Columbia Infantry (3-1)
It was a largely successful weekend for the Infantry, but then it was also for the other Florida Division squads, so the division’s newest members have a seven-point gap to close to reach the fourth and final playoff position. They started with a pair of 7-3 victories against the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones and the Decatur Blaze. On Saturday night, the Infantry defeated the Minnesota Squatch, 4-2. The streak ended, however, on Sunday when the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings came away with a 6-2 victory.
Top Scorers: Quinten Shaffer F (4-5-9 in 4 games); Ryan Coots D (0-2-2 in 2 games), Mathew Grisius (0-2-2 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Brian Brady, 1-0, 60 minutes, 44 saves on 46 shots, .957 SV%, 2.00 GAA
Florida Eels (3-2)
The Eels, like the Tampa Bay Juniors, elected for a five-game schedule at the Tampa Showcase. It had its ups and downs, but they were successful enough to exit the showcase still first in the Florida Division, a lead they still hold by 11 points. They started Friday with the Fort Wayne Spacemen, who picked up a 3-2 victory after their first loss in 15 games a day earlier to Tampa. The Eels rebounded with a decisive victory against the Minnesota Blue Ox in Game 2 on Saturday, and then defeated two fellow Nationals regulars the Toledo Cherokee (5-3) and the Chicago Cougars (8-2) on Sunday. Another Nationals staple, the Metro Jets, defeated the Eels on Monday by a 5-2 score.
Top Scorers: Easton Moore F (2-8-10 in 5 games); Kyle Ziemba (0-6-6 in 5 games)
Top Goaltender: Tobias Bell, 2-1, 92 saves on 101 shots, .911 SV%, 2.56 GAA
Metro Jets Development Program (2-1-0-1)
The MJDP saw similar overall results as their Metro Jets brethren, though they came out with one more point. In a different division, the Midwest East, the MJDP are also second place but have close competition from a couple teams at third and fourth over the stretch drive. They started with a 4-0 victory against the Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones, which was followed by a shutout going the other way, a 1-0 defeat against the Jersey Hitmen. They finished on Sunday with a 2-1 victory against the Florida Jr. Blades, and closed with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Palm Beach Typhoon.
Top Scorers: Five forwards with two points; four defensemen with one point apiece.
Top Goaltender: Taylor White, 1-0-0-1, 125 minutes, 54 saves on 55 shots, .982 SV%, 0.48 GAA, 1 shutout; Austin Muirhead, 60 minutes, 1-0, 31 saves on 32 shots, .969 SV%, 1.00 GAA
Jersey Hitmen (2-2)
The Hitmen picked up a couple wins, hugely important as they’re in a fight to stay in reach of the top eight in the Mid-Atlantic Division. The first game took Gabe Stanton and Noah Smits to both score in the shootout round for a 3-2 victory against the Fort Wayne Spacemen. The Hitmen then took a couple tough losses against the Tampa Bay Juniors (8-2) and Palm Beach Typhoon (6-1) , but they finished on a high note with a 1-0 victory over the Metro Jets Development Program, with a 1-0 win. Zachary Reddy stopped 40 shots for the shutout win.
Top Scorers: Francis Zaklukiewicz F (0-3-3 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Zachary Reddy, 2-0, 82 saves on 84 shots against, .976 save percentage, 0.96 GAA, 1 shutout
Metro Jets (2-2)
The weekend had its bumps in the road, but the Jets didn’t see any change to their status of second place in the Great Lakes Division. They started with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes on Saturday. Sunday was a tougher day, as they saw a pair of losses to both the Charlotte Rush (4-1) and the Tampa Bay Juniors (5-1). They closed out Monday with a 5-2 victory against the Florida Eels.
Top Scorers: Andreas Fleutot F (1-3-4 in 4 games), Chad Noetzel (3-1-4 in 4 games); Bryce O’Rourke (0-2-2 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Frederick Soderberg, 1-1, 67 saves on 73 shots, .918 save percentage, 3.00 GAA
Toledo Cherokee (2-2)
The Cherokee, leaders of the Great Lakes Division, went 2-2 just as the Jets did. They started out with a big 4-0 victory against the Florida Jr. Blades, and a 5-3 win against the Midwest West’s Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings (5-3). The Atlanta MadHatters pulled off a big upset by beating Toledo, 3-2, and the Florida Eels defeated the Cherokee by a 6-3 final on Sunday.
Top Scorers: Jacob Slater F (2-6-8 in 4 games); Dominik McNamara D (0-2-2 in 4 games), Justin Lang (0-2-2 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Frank Murphy, 2-1, 69 saves on 77 shots, .896 save percentage, 2.27 GAA, 1 shutout
Florida Jr. Blades (2-2)
The Jr. Blades saw a wide array of results in their four games – two shutout wins, a shutout loss and a razor-tight finale. The Jr. Blades are third in points and second in winning percentage, and they have more games remaining than all but one division rival, the Palm Beach Typhoon. The Jr. Blades were on the wrong end of a 4-0 shutout win by the Toledo Cherokee, before Ryan Melia registered two straight shutouts against the Minnesota Mullets and Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones, both 5-0 Jr. Blades wins. In the end, the Metro Jets Development Program were 2-1 victors on Sunday to finish the Jr. Blades.
Top Scorers: Charlie Chinian F (2-4-6 in 4 games); Braden Mayer D (1-2-3 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Ryan Melia, 2-0, 120 minutes, 16 saves on 16 shots, 1.000 save percentage, 0.00 GAA, two shutouts
Fort Wayne Spacemen (1-1-1-1)
The Spacemen saw every kind of result in their trip to Tampa. Their only regulation loss came in Game 1 of the event, the only Thursday action, when the host Juniors earned a 5-2 win. The Jersey Hitmen defeated the Spacemen, 3-2, in a Friday morning shootout, but the Spacemen got back on the winning end the same evening by the same score against the Florida Eels. The Spacemen closed on Saturday morning with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Spartans. In the Midwest East Division, where all seven teams make the playoffs, the Spacemen are hoping to seal up the top seed in the division, which carries a first round bye, earlier than later as they continue to push for a Nationals debut in 2023.
Top Scorers: Logan Robins F (3-1-4 in 4 games), Kyle Remo (1-3-4 in 4 games); Michael Scully D (1-1-2 in 4 games), Thomas Turgeon (1-1-2 in 4 games)
Top Goaltender: Bryce Dunnigan, 0-0-1-1, 126 minutes, 53 saves on 59 shots, 6 goals against, .898 save percentage, 2.85 GAA