Team Tampa played their final game of pool play against North Dakota in America’s Showcase tournament held in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday morning. Tampa won the game 5-2 in what may have been the toughest opponent they have faced yet. It was said that the game was so action packed that the coaches practically “chewed their gum to powder”. Team Tampa’s offense was the catalyst this tournament weekend that was a thrill to watch from the stands and behind the bench. The offense today was provided by Demitri Samarkos (East Lake) and Zach Katz (Seminole) with two goals each. One of Katz’ highlight reel goals was scored on a one timer from the middle of the circles. The pass came to the high slot after beautiful puck retrieval and a strong forecheck, followed by a perfect pass from Andrew Miranda (Bloomingdale). Maxx Mitchell (Seminole) had a goal and three assists, with an impressive defensive performance as well. Unbelievable skill was displayed in net by goal tender Daniel McCarthy (River Ridge). McCarthy kept the team in the game from the early stages. He turned away 38 of 40 shots against the well prepared North Dakota offense.
Two stand out players today were Justin Walker (Newsome) and Eric Bowles (Durant). While neither found the score sheet, their positioning and play with and without the puck did not go unnoticed. The puck movement, hockey knowledge and physicality Walker and Bowles both displayed today made the difference in the game and helped bring home the win. Reflecting this philosophy, defenseman Ethan Terliamis (Mitchell), noted, “being a part of the showcase team, especially the practices, allowed me to work with Coach Alekseev who offered guidance on and off the ice. The showcase gave me the opportunity to play with those I have only played against and gave me exposure to out of state players building my skill and perspective of the game.”
Joshua Heldwein (East Manatee) performed extraordinarily strong through the first half of the game. An upper-body injury sidelined him midway through the second, but still grabbed the attention of scouts. Tampa’s play collectively brought them to a 3-0 record. With their impressive play throughout the tournament, scouts from numerous colleges and junior hockey teams all across the country were lining up outside of the locker room eager to speak to most players on the team about their futures. Due to tournament rules and regulations and the goal differential, Tampa will not advance to the later stages of the tournament despite winning all three games. Tampa will play in a consolation game tomorrow against Team Colorado, another force in the division, but also unavailable to advance due to the goal differential. I expect to see a good match up between the two teams tomorrow, and another win for Tampa.