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LHSHL First Shift: Week Fifteen

01/11/2018, 6:15pm EST
By Kyle McKenna

Playoff implications on the line for several teams

After a two week break the Lightning High School Hockey League (LHSHL) returns and in full force. Week 15 entails seven matchups, which will take place at four different rink locations in the Tampa Bay area. There are playoff implications on the line for several teams, and East Manatee will face-off with East Lake for the LHSHL Game of the week. 

SEMINOLE-MITCHELL

For the second and final time this season the Seminole Sharks and Mitchell Mustangs will face-off and at the Clearwater Ice Arena (CIA). The last time these two playoff-bound teams met, Mitchell won by a final score of 11-0. However, the Sharks had a short bench in that contest, so expect a much different outcome tomorrow night.


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)

Yes, the Sharks are led by the LHSHL’s current leading goal-scorer in Zach Katz (44 goals), but let’s not forget about Seminole’s dynamic defenseman in Maxx Mitchell either. Seminole’s Mitchell has an impressive 34 points on the season (17G-17A), which also includes two goals on the power play. It will be interesting to see who starts in net for the Teal (Alexsys Fischetti or Hunter Neal), and perhaps either Kent Davis (4G-11A –15pts) or the young, Sebastian Middleton (2G-9A –11pts), will be an x-factor in this contest. Additionally, the Sharks are 2-2-1 at CIA this season.

Mitchell is currently on a losing streak (three games) for the second time this season. The Mustangs last played on Friday, December 15th, when the team lost an in-division game to River Ridge by a score of 7-2. Though, the Mustangs are capable of flipping the switch on and can heat up, fast. A win for Mitchell could potentially put the Mustangs back in second place for the Bradley Division, too. Keep in mind that the Mustangs are deep at all areas of the ice and have five skaters with fifteen points or more on the season; Tucker Tassone (29pts); Jon Heller (23pts); Tyler Gay (22pts); Nicholas DeMiceli (20pts); Alex Majerczak (15pts). Additionally, something to keep an eye out for – a majority of Mitchell’s goals have been scored during the second period this season…

Seminole (9-6-3 –21pts) Mitchell (10-7-0 –20pts)

STEINBRENNER-WEST MANATEE

The Steinbrenner Warriors will head down to Ellenton this Friday night and look to keep their LHSHL Playoff hopes alive when they take to the ice against West Manatee (8:15pm). Entering Week 15, Steinbrenner is five points out of a playoff position (behind Mitchell) and only has three games remaining. Still, the Warriors are in the playoff race and will need to pick up the “W” to remain in playoff contention. Steinbrenner is coming off of a tough 5-0 loss to East Lake (December 20th), but perhaps netminder Gavin William can help get the Warriors back on track tomorrow night. Steinbrenner’s Kevin Holman (11G-10A –21pts), Kyle Ciaccio (15G-3A –18pts) and William Sorsby (5G-7A –12pts) will be sure to be in the mix, too.

West Manatee will rally around senior James Schukraft (2G-2A –4pts) tomorrow night. Prior to the game, West Manatee will honor its lone senior by hosting its’ first ever Senior Night. The “Fly Guys” will be amped and ready to collect two points in the standings for one of their veteran leaders in the team’s inaugural season. West Manatee is due for a win, as the Orange and Black are on a five-game losing-streak. Don’t be surprised if Jarrett Boehm makes his way onto the score sheet, either. Boehm (12G-6A –18pts) has been key on the power play this season for West Manatee – number eight for the Orange and Black has netted three power play goals, thus far.

The contest marks the second, and final, time these two teams will face-off; Steinbrenner won the first meeting by a score of 4-3.

Steinbrenner (7-11-1 – 15pts) West Manatee (5-13-1 –11pts)  

FREEDOM-DURANT

One team that’s on the verge of clinching a LHSHL Playoff berth would be that of the Durant Cougars. The Cougars need either a win or a tie in order to officially clinch a playoff spot for the Eastern Conference’s Modin Division.


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)

Yet, the Freedom Patriots will look to spoil the party. While the Red, White and Blue have struggled as of late, the Pats are only three points out of a playoff position in the Andreychuk Division (behind Jenkins) with four games left to play. Owen “Bardown” Barno (27G-10A –37pts) will look to shine under the Friday night lights and lead his Patriots back into the Win Column. Freedom only has one win in its last six contests (1-4-1), and perhaps masked man Jacob Sanders can help revive his squad. Sanders is 4-2-2 on the season and has been well tested by some of the league’s best teams and skaters. Yet, Freedom does have three other skaters with 20-plus points on the season (aside from Barno); Vincent Margosian (29pts); Speciale (26pts); O’Connor (24pts).

On the other side of the rink, Durant will be extra-motivated to clinch a playoff position and also take one step closer towards clinching second place in the division. The Cougars are 3-1-1 in their last five games, and have outscored opponents 17-12 during that time frame. Durant’s remaining four games are set to be played at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum (ISF), but so far the Cougars have a record of 1-2 at ISF. The team’s power play may be the x-factor in deciding the outcome for this game, and Jordan Putnam (21G-5A –26pts) will look to continue his rookie success in the LHSHL as well.

The last time these two teams met, Durant defeated the Patriots by a score of 7-3, which was back on November 21st.

Freedom (6-10-2 –14pts) Durant (9-7-2—20pts)

BERKELEY-PALM HARBOR

It might be safe to say that both the Berkeley Buccaneers and Palm Harbor Hurricanes have had this particular game circled on their calendar for the past two months. The Lecavalier Division rivals are only separated by three points in the division standings, and a win for Palm Harbor would officially eliminate Berkeley from playoff contention.

However, a win for the Buccaneers keeps them in playoff contention, and the team would also have to win its’ final game of the 2018 campaign on January 26th to have a chance at potentially making the playoffs. Berkeley Head Coach Bernie Skerkowski has his skaters playing better together as a unit, and with the rookie sensation, Heath Chancey, between the pipes for the Bucs – there’s a chance.

While Palm Harbor has had its struggles this season, there’s always hope for the ‘Canes if Garrett Toenjes (34G-8A –42pts) is in the lineup. The senior forward’s commendable worth ethic out on the ice, and uncanny ability to find the open areas in front of the opposition's net, may all come together at the right time for the Hurricanes Friday night – and when they need it most. The last time Berkeley and Palm Harbor met was back on November 17th,Toenjes not only recorded the hat trick, but had all three of the team’s goal in the 3-0 victory.

While this game is not the LHSHL Game of the Week, it will be one of the more followed and intriguing matchups for Week 15.

Berkeley (1-19-0—2pts) Palm Harbor (2-16-1—5pts)

BLOOMINGDALE-JESUIT

It’s an Eastern Conference showdown in Ellenton tomorrow night when the Bloomingdale Ice Bulls and Jesuit Tigers take to the ice for a 9:45pm puck drop. The Bloomingdale Ice Bulls enter the contest riding a two-game winning-streak, and a win could potentially lift the team into second place (tie; Durant) for the Modin Division. Bloomingdale hasn’t had any trouble finding the back of the net lately, and Jesuit will have their hands full with one of the LHSHL’s top goal-scorers in freshman Brennan Cyhaniuk; who has had himself quite the rookie season. The youngster is second on the team with 31 points, while finding the back of the net 22 times this season.


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)

While both teams have solid goaltending, this contest could end up being a high-scoring game. Jesuit has one of the top LHSHL point-getters in forward Joshua Burke (33G-25A –58pts), and let’s not forget about his line mate Nolan Forrest (27G-24A –51pts), either. The Tigers were 3-1 during the month of December, but are fresh off of a 5-4 loss to Wiregrass. Jesuit will be hungry to get back in action and slowdown Bloomingdale’s chances at clinching a playoff berth. Also note that the Tigers have the second most Goals-For with 118 (East Manatee -149). Similar to other games scheduled for tomorrow night, there’s a strong chance special teams will be the difference maker for this Eastern Conference matchup.

This is the first and only meeting between these two teams this season.

Bloomingdale (8-7-2 –18pts) Jesuit (13-3-2 –28pts)

WIREGRASS-JENKINS

Tomorrow night is just full of intriguing matchups, and another one of those appealing games will take place at ISF between the Wiregrass Ice Hawks and George-Jenkins Eagles for a 9:45pm puck drop.

Just one point separates Wiregrass and Jenkins in the Andreychuk Division standings, and a win for Wiregrass would see the Hawks separate themselves that much more from both third place Jenkins and fourth place Freedom. Additionally, Wiregrass and Jenkins are fresh off of big wins – to add to all of the dramatics for this contest.

Wiregrass is 2-0-1 in its last three games, and the tie actually came against Jenkins back on December 8th. Wiregrass’ Matthew McGovern (13G-10A –23pts) scored twice in that game, but on another note, one of the LHSHL’s top goal-scorers in Josey Davis was not present. Davis has 32 goals and 14 assists for a total of 46 points in just 14 games played, thus far. Though, the x-factor for this game could be whoever starts in net for the Hawks; Carson Saunders appears to be back and healthy, and when called upon the masked man almost always gives Wiregrass a chance at collecting two-points – no matter the opponent.

Speaking of goal-scorers, though…Jenkins forward Luke Rouleau (has been making the most of his senior season with the Green and Gold. Rouleau has all three of Jenkins’ goals in that last contest between these two teams, and when the senior scores two-or-more goals in a contest the Eagles are 5-0-2 on the year. In addition to Rouleau’s offensive production, Isaac Graves has been key for Jenkins, too. Graves has netted 13 goals this season (2nd on the team), but hasn’t scored since November 20th.  Jenkins will have to find a way to shutout down Davis and company and that may lean on the shoulders of Ryan Warchola, who will look to have another solid outing between the pipes for the Eagles.

This contest marks the third and final meeting between these two Andreychuk Division rivals. Jenkins owns the series lead entering Week 15 (1-0-1).

Wiregrass (7-7-4 –18pts) Jenkins (7-8-3 –17pts)

EAST MANATEE-EAST LAKE

LHSHL Game of the Week

It’s been almost two months since two of the LHSHL’s top teams faced-off. The East Manatee Admirals will take to the road tomorrow night and head to the Tampa Bay Skating Academy (TBSA) to take on the East Lake Eagles in the LHSHL Game of the Week.


(Photo Credit/Cindy Eccles)

Back on November 17th these first place teams met down in Ellenton, where East Manatee defeated the Eagles by a score of 5-4. While the Admirals will be short eight skaters tomorrow night, this should still make for another great game of hockey. East Manatee enters the contest riding a two-game winning-streak, while out scoring its opponents 17-0 during that span. It’s no secret that East Manatee has arguably the best offensive scoring power in the league, but the Admirals have been efficient on special teams all season as well. Head Coach Eric Wessel’s squad has recorded 16 power play goals and totaled eight shorthanded goals on the year, and that may pan out to be a key factor in tomorrow night’s outcome.

Since losing to East Manatee back in November, East Lake has now won six games in a row. The Eagles have also not allowed more than three goals in a game during the winning streak, too. Senior Forward, Nickolas Belanger (17G-14A –31pts) will look to lead his squad and earn a statement win over the LHSHL’s top team. Belanger has five power play points (2G-3A), two shorthanded goals and two shorthanded goals on the year. But let’s not forget about one of the team’s top blue liners in Evan Jones, either. Jones is third on the team in points (16G-9A –25pts), and leads the team with three power play goals (tied with Justin Garr). The Eagles are deep in net, but which ever goaltender starts – they still may have their hands full even with a shorthanded East Manatee squad. Also, East Lake has a 9-1 record overall at TBSA this season, thus far.

East Manatee (17-2-0 –34pts) East Lake (13-3-2 –28pts)

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