On Monday, the 2021 USPHL Florida Showcase came to a close at Hertz Arena in Estero, Fla. Fifteen total teams, on both the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite sides, finished with record of at least .500 at the event. Topping the leaderboard were the USPHL Premier’s Hampton Roads Whalers and Charlotte Rush, both of whom went 4-0 at that level. The Rush’s USPHL Elite team was the only squad to come out clean from the showcase, giving the Rush an 8-0 organizational home run.
The USPHL thanks the organizers - the Florida Jr. Blades ownership and staff - as well as the host facility Hertz Arena for a great event.
The league also thanks the many college coaches who made the trip to view and recruit its outstanding student-athletes. From the NCAA Division III ranks, this included representatives from Albertus Magnus College, Arcadia University, Aurora University, Bethel University, Johnson and Wales University, King's College, Lebanon Valley College, Neumann University, SUNY-Oswego, Rivier University, Salem State University, Southern New Hampshire University, Stevenson University, and Utica College and UMass-Dartmouth. Representing their ACHA teams were coaches from Dakota College-Bottineau, Indiana Tech, Lake Superior State University, Lawrence Tech, Marian University, Midland University, the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University. American International College sent a coach representing their NCAA Division I and ACHA teams, as well.
USPHL Premier Division
Charlotte Rush (4-0)
The defending National Champions went into the event seven points out of fourth place. After their outstanding run in Florida, Charlotte finds itself in third, but just two points out of the two-way tie for first place now held by Carolina and Hampton Roads. The weekend started for the Rush with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Juniors, followed by a 4-3 win in overtime against the host Florida Jr. Blades. The Rush snuck by the Atlanta MadHatters in a 1-0 defensive battle and ended with a marquee match-up in front of a packed house with The Dan K Show on the call. On Sunday afternoon, they faced the Florida Division-leading Florida Eels in a National Championship Game Rematch. It went to the shootout and the Rush just barely nipped the Eels by a 3-2 score.
Hampton Roads Whalers (4-0)
The Whalers, the previous National Champions before the Rush, were six points back of the leading Carolina Jr. Hurricanes in the Southeast Division going into the showcase, and came out tied for first. Carolina stumbled over the weekend and picked up just two points against the Whalers’ eight. Like the Rush, the Whalers drew the Florida Eels, this time first. They earned a 2-1 victory there, and moved on to face the Typhoon, winning 2-0. The Whalers beat the Atlanta MadHatters, 6-2. They finished with a 4-1 victory over the Islanders Hockey Club.
Potomac Patriots (3-0-1)
The Patriots’ torrid pace continues, as they have gone 8-1-1-0 in their last 10. Go figure, even with that, in the ever-competitive Southeast Division, they still have been unable to rise out of fifth place. Even at fifth in this division, they’re still in the top half of overall points in the USPHL Premier. They started with a 3-2 overtime win against Tampa, followed by a 4-2 win against Atlanta and 6-1 win over Palm Beach. On Monday, the final day of the event, they fell 4-3 in overtime to the Florida Jr. Blades.
Richmond Generals (3-1)
The Generals defeated the Blades 4-3 in overtime, followed by a 5-4 win over the Typhoon and a 6-2 win over the Islanders Hockey Club. The quest for a perfect weekend came to an end with a 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Juniors. With so much success for teams in the Southeast Division, the Generals actually fell from third to fourth, but while doing so, they more than halved their deficit out of first place from seven points to just three!
Tampa Bay Juniors (2-1-1-0)
The Juniors came out of the gate with a 4-2 loss to the Rush. Their second game gave them their first point of the weekend, as they came out with a 3-2 overtime loss to Potomac. They ended the weekend with consecutive wins against the Richmond Generals and Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, 6-5 and 5-4, respectively. Their five points on the weekend, however, equaled that of the team they’re chasing for first in the Florida Division, the Florida Eels.
Florida Eels (2-1-0-1)
The Eels started the showcase on Thursday with a 2-1 loss to the Hampton Roads Whalers, but bounced back Saturday with a 2-1 win in overtime over the Islanders Hockey Club. In what was easily the “Main Event” of the showcase, the Eels fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Charlotte Rush in a rematch of the 2021 National Championship Game. The Eels ended the showcase on Monday with a 4-1 win over Carolina.
Florida Jr. Blades (1-1-2-0)
The Florida Jr. Blades ended the event on Monday with a big 4-3 overtime win over Potomac (3-0-1) to spoil what they hoped would be a 4-0 weekend. The Jr. Blades, however, started with two overtime losses of their own. They fell 4-3 to Richmond and 4-3 to Charlotte. They took a tougher loss to the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, falling 6-0 in their penultimate game. With their four-point weekend, the Jr. Blades were unable to close a wide gap between their third place position and Tampa’s second place spot.
USPHL Elite Division
Charlotte won the weekend here as well, leaving as the only 4-0 team on the weekend. Richmond earned just enough points (five), however, to maintain their lead in the Southeast Division. Carolina, the Florida Eels and the Potomac Patriots each went 3-1, as well.
Charlotte Rush (4-0)
The Rush simply came in and took care of business, starting with their 3-2 win over Tampa, and continuing on through the Florida Jr. Blades (6-1 win), Atlanta MadHatters (5-3) and Florida Eels (4-0). The Rush went to Florida tied for third in the entire USPHL Elite with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. And they came back tied for third overall with the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (3-1)
The Jr. Canes also drew both the Jr. Blades, Tampa and the Eels, adding the Typhoon as well. They started with a 6-2 win over the Typhoon, followed by a 4-2 win over the Jr. Blades and a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay before they came up just short of 4-0 with a 5-1 loss to the Eels.
Florida Eels (3-1)
The Eels also went 3-1 at the event, and they actually moved up one spot in the overall Elite standings from seventh to eighth. They still remain four points behind the Tampa Bay Juniors for the Florida Division lead. The Hampton Roads Whalers were their first draw on Thursday, and the Eels got the 3-1 win there. Coming back Saturday, they defeated the Islanders Hockey Club (with whom they were tied for seventh in the league) by a 5-3 score. They also fell 4-0 to the Rush on Sunday. They finished up with a clear 5-1 victory over Carolina.
Potomac Patriots (3-1)
The Patriots started the showcase with a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Juniors, but never looked back thereafter, defeating the Atlanta MadHatters (6-2), the Palm Beach Typhoon (6-0) and the Florida Jr. Blades (5-4 in overtime). They remain 16 points out of third place in the Southeast Division, but they did widen their lead over fifth place by a couple points to 12.
Richmond Generals (2-1-0-1)
The Southeast Division leaders, who are also second in the entire Elite Division, remain so, but they gave up one point in their Southeast lead, bringing Carolina and Charlotte both within one point. They started with a 6-4 win over the Florida Jr. Blades, followed by a decisive win - the only game decided by more than six goals at the event - over the Palm Beach Typhoon. They lost their next game, 5-2, against the Islanders Hockey Club before closing with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Juniors.
Hampton Roads Whalers (2-2)
The Whalers were able to rebound from early losses to the Florida Eels (3-1) and Palm Beach Typhoon (4-3) in their final two games. They defeated the Atlanta MadHatters, 6-2, and then enjoyed one of their biggest wins of the year - a 4-3 victory over the Islanders Hockey Club, who were 19 points ahead of the Whalers going into the event.
Islanders Hockey Club (2-2)
The Islanders - leaders of the North Division - were able to retain their division lead while dropping from seventh to eighth overall in the Elite Division. They started with wins over Atlanta (2-1) and Richmond (5-2), before falling in two straight against the Florida Eels (5-3) and the Hampton Roads Whalers (4-3).
Tampa Bay Juniors (2-2)
The Juniors lost two points off their original six-point Florida Division lead heading into the weekend by winning one less than the rival Florida Eels. The Juniors started with a 3-2 loss to Charlotte, but came back to beat the much-improved Potomac Patriots (3-2). They enjoyed a 3-2 shootout victory over Richmond, but then took a 6-3 loss to Carolina to end the weekend.