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USPHL Premier: Florida Jr. Blades pull off epic upset, earn Nationals bid after defeating Tampa

By Jim DenHollander/, 02/26/19, 1:00PM EST




Two teams moved to the second round of Premier League playoffs and a third punched their ticket to the National Championship tournament, all on Monday.  


Florida Division

Florida Jr. Blades 4, Tampa Bay Juniors 3  

The Tampa Bay Juniors appeared to take a grip on this series Sunday with an 11-1 win. However, the Jr. Blades, who won the opener 5-2 Friday, rebounded in a huge way, hanging on for 4-3 win at Hertz Arena in Estero on Monday afternoon to earn the second Florida Division berth at the Premier Division Nationals.

The Blades grabbed control of the contest quickly, scoring three unanswered first period goals and carried a 4-1 lead into the third period.

Tampa Bay scored twice just over two minutes apart before the halfway mark of the third, but could get no closer.

Holden Hertog (‘01/Fort Myers, Fla.) paced the Blades’ attack with a goal and two assists.

With that win, the Blades will join the Florida Eels as the Florida Division representatives at the National Championship tournament starting March 9.


New England Division

New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 6, Islanders Hockey Club 1 

After splitting the first two games, the Monarchs and Islanders were even at 1-1 after a period, but the Monarchs fired two unanswered middle period goals 15 seconds apart and two more 21 seconds apart before the third period was three minutes old on its way to a 6-1 series clinching win.

Nick Kuraly (‘99/Dublin, Ohio) scored twice for the Monarchs including the game winner just past the halfway mark of the second period. Justin Damon (‘99/St. Michael, Minn.) made it stand up, turning aside 42 of 43 shots faced in goal for the Monarchs.


Midwest West Division

Minnesota Blue Ox 2, Rum River Mallards 1 

The final game of the first round was one of the most thrilling as well as a solid effort in goal from Parker Swanson (‘98/Eden Prairie, Minn.) got the first-year Mallards into the third period without a goal against.

Hunter Hansen (’99/Vacaville, Calif.) snatched the win away, scoring the tying and winning goals 2:39 apart, lifting the Blue Ox to the narrow, but no less satisfying victory.

Akhmed Malsagov (‘00/Moscow, Russia) fired the lone Mallards goal in the second period. 

The Blue Ox will move into the second round of the postseason with a rematch against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings beginning Thursday night at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Rapids. 

The same two teams met in one of the same series at the same rink last season, the Riverkings earning the spot to Nationals. Also looking to return will be the top seeded Minnesota Moose who will face off against the Dells Ducks also beginning on Thursday.