Photo Credit: Charlotte Rush
Going beyond the box score, yesterday showed what the Columbia Infantry will be at both levels. Both USPHL teams competed hard yesterday and both showed something. The players that have only been together for two weeks showed why Head Coach Jacob Smulevitch wanted them there. The Elite team battled all night and played a strong third period. The Premier group lead the Rush for the vast majority of the game.
They also showed the potential depth of their goaltending as Parker Dietz kept the group in the game all evening making 58 saves. This group had key moments showing at both levels that they can and will compete. This series will be competitive all year as well. These two teams are put together to play like mirror images of one another. They are owned by the same ownership group and has some shared staff between them. This ownership group likes to do things right, and has a template for success in the USPHL with the Rush. The Infantry have those capabilities in the long run and would hope to see their rivals in the National Championships as they compete in separate divisions.
As Smulevitch said after the inaugural day of hockey for the Infantry:
“I thought both teams played well. We went up against the 3 time national champions and held our own in both games. Especially at the premier level where we led the game for over 40 minutes. If we play that way consistently there’s not many teams who will be able to beat us.
I think that our discipline needs to improve at both levels. The Rush are so good at executing on the chances you give them and I think our penalties eventually buried us in the end.
I’m very happy with the effort though and I think that this is going to be a special year for this group.”
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