The Tigers last year were the quintessential definition of slow and steady win the race. They started the year dropping five of their first six games. Pretty much the exact opposite of how you want to start a season, but Jesuit has something no other team has. A combined three Stanley Cup winners on the bench. Do you think Cully panics? No. Because Cully is the most calm person in the world. Then on the other side of the bench, you have Matty Garon. He catches (and releases) sharks in his spare time. After the 1-5 start they had to the year, this team went on a run that saw them win ten in their next eleven and only losing once more on the year. Jesuit had the top PP in the league last year and was 2nd in GPG averaging 5.64. that’s pretty good. They finished the season 15-7 in 19-20. Got the first-round bye, knocked out Freedom in the 2nd, and were eventually bounced by the Lightning Cup runners up, East Manatee.
The Patriots came out of the gate hot last year. They put up five or more goals in each of their first six games. Owen Barno, the leagues reigning Player of the Year was a pivotal part of Freedom’s hot start and solid season last year. In 22 games, Barno had 50 goals (3 SH), 19 assists. He averaged 3.14 PPG last year which is wild. Hopefully, in his senior season, Owen can replicate the success he had last year and if that is the case, this league better be aware when he is on the ice. The kid can score at will and just flat out play hockey. Freedom was 4th in scoring last year. Their PP was middle of the table and their PK was near the bottom. The Patriots were and are a dominant team but ended the second half of the season 4-5-2 which got them to the second round of the playoffs. The Patriots have a solid young core and I expect them to be just a strong this year as they were last year.
The Eagles finished 1-20-1 last year. It was a tough year for them, but they found themselves in the playoffs. Last year is last year. Jenkins looks to come out differently this year and it’s never a bad thing when you have a brand-new rink opening in your backyard to call home for the future. One thing this team needs to put at the forefront this year is the penalty minutes. In their 20 games, they had 303 PIM. That’s 15.15 minutes spent in the box per game. That is the opposite of ideal. If they can correct that and put a few more goals on the board, they have a solid chance to make it back to the dance this year.
Lakeland Ice Arena looks amazing and I hope everyone gets a chance to see it this year. The game is growing immensely in our area and this state which is something you love to see!
The haters, which there are many of. Give me odd looks when I tell them Wiregrass is going to be a powerhouse in the years to come. Just about all the freshmen and sophomores last year on WG played JV which actually from a roster standpoint, made up most of their roster. Those kids got to play 44 games together. Yes, they finished the year 1-20-2 last year. I don’t care. You cannot teach that kind of chemistry. You look at powerhouses like Alabama football. They’re so good every year because their underclassmen get insane amounts of playing time throughout the year. I’m not saying WG will go undefeated this year but what I am saying is that it is definitely in the realm of possibility for them to be playing meaningful hockey when the 22 game regular season is over.
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