The Lightning High School Hockey League (LHSHL) First Shift reviews all eight of Week Ten's matchups, which take place at four different rinks this weekend. The LHSHL Game of the Week is also announced, as East Lake will head south to Ellenton and face-off with East Manatee. Additionally, Nevada Woodring of East Manatee, and East Lake's Kyle Tracy, call in as this week's guests.
For the second time this season the Newsome Wolves and Mitchell Mustangs with face-off and the out-of-division teams will meet for a 7:00pm puck-drop at the Clearwater Ice Arena (CIA). Timing is everything in sports, and the Wolves last met the Mustangs at the wrong time, as Mitchell was in the beginning stages of turning around their season back on October 25th (8-1 loss). Newsome and junior Justin Walker (3G-5A—8pts) are 1-2 in the Wolves’ last three contests, but a win could put them in a tie for second place (Durant) in the Modin Division.
Where to even begin with Mitchell? Tucker Tassone (9G-10A—19pts) and company are currently riding a six-game winning-streak, after the Mustangs began the season with a record of 3-4. During the team’s most recent winning-streak -- Mitchell has scored six or more goals in each of those victories. Additionally, seniors Alex Majerczak and Nicholas DeMiceli, have mulit-point outings in each of their last four games played.
Newsome (5-6-1—11pts) Mitchell (8-4-0—12pts)
While the Berkeley Buccaneers haven’t won a game this season, the Palm Harbor Hurricanes are winless since the first week in September. This Lecavalier Division matchup should portray a lot of emotion out on the ice, and both team’s goaltenders may have to end up being the game’s best players come tomorrow night at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy (TBSA) for an 8:15pm puck-drop.
Yet, Berkeley will still have their hands full, as the Hurricanes are led by Garrett “Toe Jam” Toenjes (22G-6A –28pts) who is currently riding an eight-game points-streak.
As for the Buccaneers, the future is bright for Head Coach Bernie Skerkowski and company; especially between the pipes with freshman Heath Chancey. Perhaps, Chancey can put a mark on what’s to come for the Bucs moving forward and pull off a victory against their division rival.
Berkeley (0-12-0—0pts) Palm Harbor (1-11-1—3pts)
The Steinbrenner Warriors will head across the Bay to face-off with the George-Jenkins Eagles at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum (ISF) for an 8:15pm puck-drop. In fact, both teams are currently riding two different types of streaks too. The Warriors have made positive noise lately in the league, as Steinbrenner’s Kevin Holman (6G-7A—13pts) and company enter the contest with a two-game winning-streak. The Warriors have combined to score seven goals during that span, after the team had managed to find the back of the net twice in its two games prior to the streak.
It’s been a tough past couple of weeks for the Green and Gold, as the Eagles have dropped two-straight. While breaking a losing streak and winning that game is never easy – Jenkins has already answered the fact that they can overcome adversity. Isaac Graves (11G-6A—17pts) and Caylib “Home” Deapo (1G-11A—12pts) will look to lead the Eagles out of the team’s recent slump and get back on track. A key component for the Eagles may be the team’s power-play for this game in particular, and to make sure that they stay out of the box…
This will be in the first and only matchup between these out-of-division teams, and the outcome could affect a team for the better, or worse, moving forward.
Steinbrenner (4-9-0 –8pts) Jenkins (6-5-1 –13pts)
Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles
Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles
CIA will play the role of host for two intriguing matchups come tomorrow night, as the Durant Cougars will take to the road against the Plant Panthers for an 8:30pm First Shift. Durant and defenseman Kylie Gorham haven’t played since the team’s 6-0 win over the Steinbrenner Warriors back on November third, so the Cougars will be eager to get back out onto the ice. Durant has been in second place for the Modin Division since almost the first week of the season, and a win vs. Plant couldn’t come at a better time for the team. The Cougars are just two points ahead of Newsome, but with the LHSHL Playoffs in mind, Durant will look to separate itself from the Wolves as much as possible moving forward this season.
However, this matchup could pan out to be a goaltending dual if the Panthers start Troy Burkhart between the pipes; and if the Cougars were to start Dillon Garazs in net, too. Burkhart has helped backstop the Cats to four-straight wins, and Plant now sees itself making a run at first place for the Lecavalier Division (Seminole). Also, with Seminole not in action on Friday night, a win for Hamilton Reese (10G-5A—15pts) and company would put plant within striking distance of first place (two points).
(Durant 6-4-1 –13pts) Plant (6-6-0 –12pts)
The Bloomingdale Ice Bulls are eager to get back in the Win Column, and a win over their Modin Division rivals in West Manatee could be the cure for the Bulls moving forward. Bloomingdale goaltender Alexander Higginbotham and his Bulls are currently two points behind West Manatee for fourth place, and six points out of a playoff spot. So, is this a must win for the Bulls?
You be the judge…
Andrew “Big Bull” Miranda (13G-1A—14pts) has proven in the past that he can carry a team on his back, so West Manatee will have their hands full with the senior playmaker motivated to get Bloomingdale back in the LHSHL Playoff hunt.
However, West Manatee has also proven that they can take teams by surprise. The Orange and Black have been riding the up and down wave in the club’s inaugural season all year long, but Jarrett Boehm (8G-5A –13pts) and company are due for a win, plus a big one. The club is currently riding a season-low three-game losing-streak and hasn’t scored more than three goals in each of those contests. A majority of West Manatee’s goals this season have come during the second period, so getting on the score sheet early and often will be a key factor against the Bulls.
Bloomingdale (2-6-1 – 5pts) West Manatee (3-7-1 –7pts)
Photo Credit/Sydney Bagrowski
Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles
Two clubs that are both coming off of losses, and will be determined to get back in the Win column are that of the Freedom Patriots and River Ridge Knights. The out-of-division foes will face-off for a 9:45pm puck-drop at TBSA, and this should make for a potential one-goal game. Freedom was stunned 7-1 last week by East Lake, but Pats’ netminder, Jacob Saunders, is capable of carrying Freedom to a key victory. Saunders will also look to make a statement outing against (potential starter) the LHSHL’s Goalie of the Month for October in Daniel McCarthy. Plus, a win for the Patriots could potentially put them back in a playoff position and third place for the Andreychuk Division.
River Ridge took the league by surprise after the Knights won their first four games on the year, but it’s been a struggle for Dylan Hultberg (13G-16A –29pts) and his squad lately. River Ridge has dropped its last two games and both of which were against divisional opponents, so the Knights are in need for a “W.” Both teams have skaters that can single-handily take over a game, so each may tighten up on defense and try to avoid the odd-man-rush attacks as much as possible. Keep in mind, River Ridge’s power-play is second best in the league (30%), so cashing in on those opportunities could be the biggest difference maker for the Knights.
Freedom (5-7-1 – 11pts) River Ridge (7-5-1 – 13pts)
Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles
Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles
One of the more interesting matchups this weekend will take place at ISF (9:45pm) between the Wiregrass Ice Hawks and Jesuit Tigers. While the Tigers have been one of the more consistent teams all season, the Ice Hawks have usually flipped-flopped with each week with wins and losses. But, that makes all the more room for an intriguing matchup and what could pan out to be a very entertaining game of hockey.
As it stands heading into Friday night, Wiregrass is the only team to have defeat Jesuit this season (8-4). The Hawks lineup may match up well vs the Tigers, and if Josey Davis (27G-11A -- 38pts) is in the lineup then Jesuit and netminder Paul Coats could be in for a real challenge.
However, Joshua Burke (22G-14A -- 36pts) and his Tigers may have other plans. The first place Tigers are 5-0-2 since that loss to Wiregrass, and have scored six or more goals in five of those outings.
Wiregrass (5-5-3 --13pts) Jesuit (8-1-2 -- 18pts)
EAST LAKE-EAST MANATEE
Game of the Week
The LHSHL Game of the Week will be played tomorrow night down in Ellenton and between the league’s top two teams, currently. The East Lake Eagles roll into Ellenton with a 10-1-1 overall record and 78 Goals For on the year. East Lake is deep in all areas on the ice and has been led by senior forward, Justin Garr (16G-21A –37pts), all season. However, let’s not forget the Eagles’ “Engineer on the Ice” in Nickolas Belanger (12-9-21pts), who has posted at least one point in all but three games this season. There’s no doubting this will be East Lake’s toughest test to date, and it will be interesting to see who starts between the pipes for the Eagles.
Speaking of tough test…yes, East Manatee has a strong power-play and penalty-kill, but East Lake may be the team to give the Admirals some serious trouble in the special teams department. Both teams have an above-average penalty-kill percentage (higher than 80-percent), but the game may boil down to which ever club’s special teams prevails.
Last week, East Manatee broke the 100 Goals For-mark, as the team has now found the back of the net for a total of 103 times. The Admirals also play home to the LHSHL’s top point-getter in Patrick Kenefick (23G-15A—38pts), but that’s just the beginning to this lethal squad. East Manatee has nine skaters with 10 or more points, and five of those skaters have 20 or more points on the year. Additionally, senior Nevada Woodring has slowly turned into an x-factor for the Admirals, as number “88” has nine points in his last two outings.
Puck-drop for arguably the Game of the Year, thus far, is at 8:15pm.
East Lake (10-1-1 –21pts) East Manatee (11-1-0 – 22pts)
Tag(s): Home LHSHL Western Conference Lecavalier Division Palm Harbor Seminole Berkeley Bradley Division Plant Mitchell Steinbrenner East Lake River Ridge Eastern Conference Andreychuk Division Freedom Jesuit Wiregrass Manatee Newsome Modin Division Bloomingdale Jenkins Durant West Manatee