Marlborough, Mass.- Four different players tallied goals to lead the Florida Jr. Blades to a 4-1 win over the Charlotte Rush in a winner take all semifinal matchup Thursday night at the New England Sports Complex. The victory now moves the Jr. Blades on to the USP3 Finals where they will face the Traverse City North Stars for a best-of-three series.
The first half of the opening period was a test for the goaltenders as both teams traded scoring opportunities. The Jr. Blades managed to take a two-goal lead in just 31 seconds after both Dillon Manchester and Tyler O’Mara sent pucks into the back of Rush goaltender Chris Aureliano’s net.
Within eight minutes of the second period, assistant captain Shea Mitruska netted his second goal of the postseason. Taking a pass from Matt Peterson, TJ Zebley flexed a shot through the five-hole give the Jr. Blades the 4-0 lead. The Rush responded six minutes later, after Chris Dunne found a way to steal netminder Cayden Bailey’s 14th shutout of the season.
The third period was a test for the officials as both teams were flooded by penalties. The Jr. Blades managed to shut down any momentum the Rush had found from the late goal in the second to defend the 4-1 win.
Cayden Bailey earns the win stopping 30 of the 31 shots faced, while Chris Aureliano takes the loss allowing four goals on 36 shots.
The Jr. Blades will now face the Traverse City North Stars starting Friday at 12:20 p.m. This is the first game in the best-of-three series for the USP3 Finals. Game times are subject to change and scheduled to be broadcast on Hockeytv.com.