Round-Two of the Lightning High School Hockey League (LHSHL) Playoffs concluded on Friday, February 9, at Florida Hospital Center Ice (FHCI), where four games were in action. The LHSHL Eastern and Western Conference Finals are set to take place this Wednesday night at FHCI, but the LHSHL recaps the second-round in today’s LHSHL Playoff Podcast. Additionally, Seminole’s Zach Katz calls in as today’s guest caller.
(2) WIREGRASS VS (1) JESUIT
While the Wiregrass Ice Hawks were the lone LHSHL team to take down the Jesuit Tigers more than once this season, it was Jesuit that walked away from FHCI victorious on Friday night. The Tigers defeated the Hawks by a final score of 8-2, and have officially advanced to the LHSHL’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Five different Jesuit skaters found the back of the net (Joshua Burke, Kyle Repar, Trent Gephart, Deacon More & Matthew Smith), and both Owen Forrest and Ryan Tuccio got their names on the score sheet in the assist department. Though, it was the Tigers’ leading goal-scorer from the regular season in Burke who led Jesuit with one goal and three helpers (1G-3A –4pts) on the night. Burke’s goal came on the power play and was the insurance goal (fourth goal), as Jesuit never looked back from that point on (2:34 of the first period).
Still, it was Jesuit senior defenseman Deacon More, who recorded two goals during the first period and was credited with the game-winning goal. More and his fellow defensemen were also key in shutting down one of the LHSHL’s top goal-scorers in Wiregrass’, Josey Davis. Yes, Davis recorded two goals, but the senior typically finds his number “21” on the score sheet a handful of times per game.
Jesuit netminder Paul Coats earned the win the between the pipes for the Blue and White, and earned his second career LHSHL Playoff win. Jesuit will meet East Manatee in the Eastern Conference Finals at FHCI on Wednesday night for an 8:15 p.m. puck drop.
Jesuit Playoff Leaders:
Joshua Burke (1G-3A –4pts; 1GP)
Trent Gephart (1G-2A—3pts; 1GP)
Kyle Repar (2G-1A –3pts; 1GP)
Paul Coats (1-0; 2.00 GAA; .926 SV%)
(2) BLOOMINGDALE VS (1) EAST MANATEE
The East Manatee Admirals and team captain Patrick Kenefick were familiar with scoring a lot of goals, and winning games, all season. Friday night was no different for the Admirals, when the first place squad took down the Bloomingdale Ice Bulls by a score of 15-0. The contest also marked the second shutout recorded during the 2018 LHSHL Playoffs (Wiregrass 5-0 over Jenkins).
10 different East Manatee skaters recorded at least one point (see score sheet here), eight different skaters found the back of the net. Peter Morgan (4A-2A –6pts), Jackson Bennett (3G-4A –7pts), Isaac Bliss (2G-1A –3pts) and Patrick Kenefick (2G-0A –2pts) all had a multi-goal effort. Two of Bennett’s three goals were the team’s first two goals on the night, while Morgan recorded the hat trick during the second period.
Additionally, East Manatee had two shorthanded goals, which came from the sticks of Frantisek Viacek and Connor Nicholson. The other 13 Admirals goals came at even strength.
While East Manatee goaltender Tyler Moschella was anticipated to start, it was masked man Alex Workman that received the nod between the pipes on Friday night earning the victory. The sophomore goaltender was credited with not only his first career LHSHL Playoff shutout, but victory as well.
As noted above, East Manatee and Jesuit will face-off in the much anticipated East Conference Final at FHCI (8:15 p.m.). The feat also marks the second time in the last three seasons that East Manatee has reached the third-round of the LHSHL Playoffs.
East Manatee Playoff Leaders:
Jackson Bennett (3G-4A –7pts; 1GP)
Peter Morgan (4G-2A –6pts; 1GP)
Isaac Bliss (2G-1A –3pts; 1GP)
Alex Workman (1-0; 0.00 GAA; 1.000 SV%)
(2) RIVER RIDGE VS (1) EAST LAKE
The Bradley Division Final between the River Ridge Knights and East Lake Eagles met expectations and was a nail biter, to say the least. Though, it was the first place Eagles that eventually soared and collected its first playoff win this postseason. East Lake defeated River Ridge in front of a packed house by a final score of 5-3 on Friday night at FHCI.
Keep in mind that the Eagles proved that they can be resilient regardless of the fact that they were a first place team all season long. The Eagles trailed on three different occasions in the contest (1-0; 2-1; 3-2), but the team managed to score three goals during the third period to pull away with the “W.”
Out of the Eagles three goal-scorers, two of those skaters were defenseman. East Lake’s Eric Thompson and Kenny Malonski were the blue liners to find the back of the net vs. River Ridge, and Thompson finished the night with two points (1G-1A –2pts). Malonski, Thompson and the rest of the East Lake defense-core had their hands full all night with the challenge of shutting down River Ridge forward, Jacob Schnapp. While Schnapp found the back of the net twice and chipped in a helper (2G-1A –3pts), the team’s blue line rose to the occasion when it mattered most – and ultimately helped East Lake advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Though, the Honda Player of the Month for January in Demitri Samarkos was arguably the heart beat for the Eagles on Friday night. Samarkos recorded the hat trick en route to the 5-3 victory. The junior forward had not one, but two, clutch goals on the night. Number 26 for the Eagles had the game-tying goal (3-3 - 9:55 3rd period), and then found the back of the net four minutes later to earn the game-winning goal on the power play.
East Lake goaltender Marcus Alfaro was the starter between the pipes, and the senior netminder was active early one. Alfaro faced 14 shots during the first period, while turning away 12 of those quality shots. Overall, Alfaro recorded 23 saves on 26 shots. The contest marked the second time this season that Alfaro defeated River Ridge, and earned his first career LHSHL Playoff victory.
East Lake is set to face-off with Seminole in the LHSHL Western Conference Finals on Wednesday, February 14, at FHCI for a 6:45 p.m. puck drop.
“It’s worked all season; so if we play our game, score the goals, they take a bunch of penalties then the puck would go into the net, and we’d win the game.”
East Lake Playoff Leaders:
Demitri Samarkos (3G-0A –3pts; 1GP)
MacCallum Brown (0G-2A –2pts; 1GP)
Adrian Matosevic (0G-2A –2pts; 1GP )
Marcus Alfaro (1-0; 3.00 GAA; .885 SV%)
(2) SEMINOLE VS (1) PLANT
On the eve of former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier having his number “4” retired by the organization, the Lecavalier Division Finals matchup between the Seminole Sharks and the Plant Panthers did not disappoint.
In the only one-goal contest on the night, the Teal defeated the first place Panthers by a final score of 5-4. The matchup saw four different lead changes, and the teams combined for six third period goals (three goals each). While Plant’s Matthew Brkljacic recorded the hat trick, it still wasn’t enough for the Panthers to take down the Teal.
Zach Katz and company found a way to beat Plant goaltender Troy Burkhart, as the team netted five goals on 38 shots. Katz also had a hat trick on the night, and the Sharks received scoring help from both Nathan Norris and Colin Saar. The game-winning goal came from the stick of Saar and with under five minutes remaining in regulation, too. Both Saar and Norris have recorded points in both of Seminole’s playoff games this postseason.
Additionally, Brendan Stoufer, Aiden Boyce, Eric Courtney and Maxx Mitchell all found their way into the assist column. Sharks goaltender Hunter Neal earned the win between the pipes for Seminole, after Neal turned away 18 of Plant’s 22 shots on goal. Yet, it was Neal’s timely and big saves towards the end of the game that stood out the most.
The Sharks have now reached the Conference Finals for the second straight season, and will face East Lake at FHCI on Wednesday night for a 6:45 p.m. puck drop.
Seminole Playoff Leaders:
Zach Katz (6G-2A – 8pts; 2GP)
Kent Davis (1G-3A –4pts; 2GP)
Nathan Norris (2G-1A –3pts; 2GP)
Hunter Neal (2-0; 48 saves)
(The Lightning High School Hockey League can be followed on Twitter @TBLHSHL)