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Jr. Blades Make Run at Championship

Tuesday, April 23, 2019, 8:01PM

Estero, Fla. — The Florida Jr. Blades capped off an improbable season with a cinderella run at the USPHL Premier Finals. Entering the tournament as the 16th seed, the Florida Jr. Blades were an unexpected force.

In the first game of pool play the Jr. Blades faced off against the #1 seed Metro Jets (39-4-1-0 regular season record). The teams played to a 2-2 draw after 60 minutes. Tomas Brezina (2g) came up huge for the Jr. Blades with two first-period tallies. The first goal came at 4:26 on the power-play and was unassisted. Holden Hertog (1a) assisted on the second marker at 12:26. The Metro Jets scored at 16:08 of the first to narrow the Jr. Blades lead to one.

After a scoreless second period, the Nick Ceccarini of the Metro Jets scored the lone goal of the third period at 19:40.

Next up for the Jr. Blades were the Northeast conference champion Connecticut Nighthawks (28-11-4-0 regular season record). The Jr. Blades came out with a 3-2 win with eight different players showing up on the score sheet.

After a scoreless first period the Connecticut Nighthawks struck first at 8:20 off the stick of Jake Bojarzin. Just over two minutes later Jr. Blade Tristan Roost (1g, 1a) answered with assists to Josh Grund (1a) and Iacopo Granza (1a) . At 13:31 Holden Hertog (1g) with assists from Sam Storlie (1a) and Tristan Roost. Quinn Shepard (1g) with assists from Brody Ormiston (1a) scored the eventual game winner at 18:31.

Denis Kuzminov pulled the Nighthawks within a goal at 17:41 of the third, but the Jr. Blades blue line remained strong to secure the 3-2 victory.

“I couldn't be more proud of this group and the heart they showed along with a full team effort,” said coach Todd Pococke. “That was a true example of buying in and believing. We definitely proved a lot of people wrong.”

The Jr. Blades finished the tournament with a strong 4-1 showing against the rough and tumble Chicago Cougars. Jr. Blades goalie Patrik Lietava turned away 33 shots in the win. Holden Hertong, Tristan Roost, Brody Ormiston, and Josh Grund all scored for the Jr. Blades. The lone tally for the Chicago Cougars came off the stick of Kurt LaPak at 5:21 of the third period.

After their regular season struggles the goal differential elimination was bittersweet.

“We definitely proved a lot of people wrong,” said Pococke. “You don't play hockey on paper. You play it on the ice against the other team. This continues to prove anybody has a chance to beat anybody.”

The Jr. Blades look to build on their tournament success and lessons learned as they begin looking ahead to the 2019-20 season.

“We’re an organization built on fundamentals, training, skill and advancement,” said Pococke. “We provide players with the support, training, and facilities to take their games to the next level and it all starts at free agent camp.”

The Jr. Blades will have two opportunities for players to showcase their character and skill May 3-5 and June 14-16. For more information visit www.FloridaJrBlades.com

 
 
Empire Junior Hockey League Florida Everblades Junior Everblades Florida Alliance AAA Hockey Club Florida Gulf Coast University Hockey PAL Hockey