Photo Credit: Charlotte Rush
For an organization with the standards it has, winning everything is wa goal. Along the way development of players comes from the goal of winning and they did a lot of that at the Tampa Showcase this past weekend. Hear more from Head Coach Troy Schwab.
I think we need to give credit to the The Tampa Bay Juniors for putting on a very good showcase over the past 4 days. Their facility sets up very well to be able to host multiple teams and multiple games every day. Everyone their was very accommodating and things ran as smooth as you hoped it would. As with any showcase you would like to see more schools in attendance but its always good to be able to compete against opponents you don’t always see and measure your teams against other divisions.
Being able to go 4 for 4 at both levels and 8 for 8 as an organization in back to back showcases and against the opponents we played is an accomplishment and something for these players to be proud about. We go into these showcases wanting the toughest schedule. We want to play the best teams. We want to see how we measure up against other top teams. This was a good step for us on the way to our ultimate goal.
The elite had a really good weekend. Contributions from everyone throughout our lineup. Game 1 against Tampa was an Away game for us. We were playing in their rink in front of their fans. I thought our players handled it very well. We got off to a good start in the game with Scoring from 3 different players and Perry Jacobs played well in net to get us the win. Game 2 our top players played like top players. Spencer Barrow, Gabriel Santamaria, and Jack Lamothe carried the way offensively for us. Game 3 saw Evan Crawford once again close the door and not give up any goals. It was a little bit more of a spirited affair which was probably good with it being the 2nd game of the day. It allowed our players to play with more energy and compete at a high level which at that stage of the day we needed. Going into our final day and final game of the showcase and playing the Florida Eels we knew it was going to be a tough challenge. We made a trade around the Christmas holidays where we acquired two players (Elijah White and Aiden Gorman) to help our elite team down the stretch. Elijah White came in and made an immediate impact and got us on the board early in this game with a very good shot. The players competed and battled extremely hard and we went into the final few minutes with a led. We gave up that lead late in the game and was forced to go to overtime. Although I am not very happy about how we gave up the lead, the way our players responded and got the win off the stick of Conner Ribstein in overtime is a very good sign for our group moving forward. A very spirited affair ended with us getting the 2 points that aren’t always guaranteed when these two teams play.
Once again the Premier team did what they are expected to do. Win hockey games. A very tough schedule, injuries, playing 3 games in under 24 hours, and all the other adversity they had to face this weekend and they still got the job done. I think the success at this showcase shows the depth that we have at the Premier level. We were able to move guys in and out and try to stay fresh so we could continue to have success. Game 1 was against Wisconsin was a very good test for us. They played us extremely hard. Tried to frustrate us and slow us down. For 25 minutes they were able to do that. Once we settled down, we started playing fast, making plays, and took control of the game. Game 2 against the Metro Jets was expected to be the game of the weekend. It was an emotion game and penalties played a huge role in the game. Stephens played extremely well and for the first time all year our power play one us a game. The Metro Jets are no doubt a team I expect us to see again in March. Game 3 saw us play the Minnesota Blue Ox. Coming off an emotional game with very little rest in between this game concerned me for our group. We came out flat and got behind early. I knew once we started rolling we would be okay and that’s what happened. Our depth and our energy eventually took over the game. Michael Miller stepped up in this game and played very well for us. We finished the weekend off with a win over the Chicago Cougars to close out the weekend. Rhett Evjen was very good in this game as he was all weekend long.
At the end of training camp when we split our players into Premier and Elite teams, we talked to everyone about the ability of players to go from one team to the other based on how they were playing and what we felt was the best thing for their development. As an organization we believe in that model and have had success with it in the past. Conor Humphrey and Ben Pearson are two guys that started the year at the Elite level. We always felt they were Premier players, but at the time based on situations, starting at the Elite level was what was best for them long term. Both have had tremendous success at the Elite level and are now getting opportunities to play games at the Premier level. Humphrey has worked himself into an everyday top line minute role and having success. There a few other players that are starting to put themselves in that same scenario currently with the Elite team. Matthew Lawhon, Michael Miller, Cam Perez, and CJ Bachman are all players who played over the last two seasons with us at the Elite level, are having success at the Premier level, and are making a huge impact for us at the Premier level.
A very good weekend of growth, development and also a very good weekend for both the Premier and Elite teams to come together as one family!”
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