By Marlee Bulman / USPHLElite.com
Seed: Florida #1
Round Robin Schedule
All games to be played at Utica University Nexus Center, Utica, N.Y.
Game 1: Thursday, March 23, vs. Jersey Hitmen, 10 a.m. EST
Game 2: Friday, March 24, vs. Charlotte Rush, 12 p.m. EST
Game 3: Saturday, March 25, vs. Northern Cyclones, 2:30 p.m. EST
After having a strong standing during the regular season and facing off against the Atlanta MadHatters in the playoffs, the Florida Eels are heading to Nationals.
It wasn’t all easy after facing a potential upset to Atlanta, going down one game after a 6-5 Atlanta overtime win to start the series.
“Our series with Atlanta was competitive. We had to handle adversity after losing Game 1 to win the series. Overall it was a good test for our team and how we would handle adversity as a collective group so I am happy with where our team is at,” said Head Coach Mitch Hill.
In 44 games played, the Eels had 31 wins, eight losses, three overtime losses and two shootout losses. After clinching their division by 11 points, the Eels finished fifth overall.
“Our goal all season long was to make the National tournament so we are excited. This is the second year in a row our Elite team has gotten this far. We have a ton of skill and speed that we will look to continue building throughout nationals,” Hill said, in regards to the team’s strength going forward.
A few star players were key to getting to Nationals. Lorenzo Marchetta (’03) posted an impressive 28-40-68 for the regular season. He also scored a highlight-reel goal that featured a spin-o-rama posted by the league almost right after it happened, which was shortly thereafter retweeted by ESPN’s John Buccigross.
“[He] was massive in helping us get to Nationals. His line with Alexander Clingerman really stepped up in Game 3 to propel our offense,” Hill said. Alexander Clingerman put up a 25-30-55 line. These two will be a line to watch out for.
“Our netminder Loic St-Denis Lacombe stepped up in a massive way in Games 2 and 3 to provide relief in the net for our team.”
Lacombe ended the regular season with a goals against average of 3.33 and .899 save percentage, and in the division playoffs, brought those numbers up to a GAA of 2.45 and a .910 save percentage.
Coach Hill has faith in his team to make it to the end with the team he built this season.
“We have a good core group on our team this year that was on last year’s National tournament team,” said Hill. “They understand the standard and level of play at Nationals so that will help continue spreading that message through our locker room.”
In regards to what changes are to be made, Coach Hill said, “We have been working on our D- zone structure and tracking recently. Our 5-on-5 play without the puck is something we have been emphasizing with our group.”
Fans are excited to see what the Eels will bring to the ice these next three games. Either way this is a team with an unshakeable bond.
“[The players] have gotten together a bunch outside of the rink to continue enjoying being around one another. They have been building lasting memories all season long so they are excited to continue that this week.”