#USPHLNationals Premier Team Preview: Florida Eels

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


The Florida Eels are in the “Seven-Timer Club” with the Charlotte Rush, as both teams have made the USPHL Premier National Championships every year since the Premier’s inaugural 2017-18 season.

They always find their way to put together fantastic regular seasons and are able to cash in on those by moving on to the biggest stage. This includes making the 2021 National Championship Game, where coincidentally, they fell to the Rush. 

They went to the semifinals in 2022 and 2023 and hope that they can be at the top of the final four this time around.

“Advancing to Nationals is always a great feeling. As a team it’s a goal we set out to accomplish dating all the way back to when we were eliminated last Spring in the semifinal game,” said Head Coach Frank Scarpaci III. “We’re definitely excited to take another crack at this with a good part of the group that did back then. Seven years is definitely an accomplishment and speaks to the recruiting our staff has done throughout the past few offseasons. Right now we are just focused on the present.”

The Eels went up against a tough Tampa Bay Juniors team, giving the Florida Division a battle of the two Florida Division representatives in 2023. The Eels started with a 4-1 victory in Game 1, but Tampa Bay ended Game 2 in their favor in overtime, 5-4. The Eels went back on the dominating end in Game 3, winning 5-0, with Tresor Wotton stopping 35 shots for the shutout victory that sent the Fort Myers-based Eels to Utica. 

“We were tested, that’s for sure,” said Scarpaci. “Tampa had a really strong team that was playing some really good hockey headed into playoffs, and we knew that. I’m really proud of the group for getting our game established and for the most part taking away some of Tampa’s greater strengths. It was an important growing moment for our group.”

Wotton, in the end, stopped 103 of 108 shots with a 2-0-1 run in the playoff series. Jacob Godbout led the way with six points in three games, while five other players scored three points in three games. He fully expected the team to be playing its best hockey when games began on Thursday. 

“Our team’s preparation doesn’t change much. Stay sharp and work on ourselves for the moment,” said Scarpaci. “It’ll be a good test with the seeding rounds and drawing some tough opponents. We’re used to getting some tough opponents at showcases and moving on quickly, so our preparation started back in September.”

During the season, the Eels put up a 3-2-1-0 record against the Bold City Battalion, The Eels also registered a shootout victory (3-2) against the WBS Knights at the Tampa Showcase. They took tough losses to two other Nationals teams, the Charlotte Rush, Potomac Patriots and Metro Jets. 

The Eels will face the Metro Jets Development Program on Friday – in a rematch of a great 1-0 showdown last year also in the Seeding Round – and they will also take on Potomac for the first time at a National Championship event. 

 “There’s a lot of tough teams and I don’t view it that way and neither does our team. A lot of strong teams are going there with the belief they can win this thing and our jobs just to take it a game at a time with a game plan to eliminate them,” said Scarpaci. “You can look at the last two seasons, and I’m sure the Cyclones and the Rockets respectively, weren’t the answers you would’ve received. Every team going there has potential to make a run, and that’s our mindset.”