Forum to play host to third annual high school Lightning Conference Cup Championship
Trevor von Knotsenburg
/ Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Times Forum hosts its third annual high school Lightning Conference Cup Championship on Thursday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. between East Lake and Jesuit.
Both teams battled their way through the 20-team conference to earn a chance to win the Lightning Conference Cup, affording them this opportunity. Fans can come out and watch these two local high school rivals compete for the championship title free of charge.
The East Lake Eagles (14-3-2) will represent the Western Division after defeating Dunedin/Tarpon/Countryside, 6-3, in the semifinal game last week. East Lake’s Austin Teall and Alexander Estoch both scored twice to qualify their team for the championship game. The Eagles were the runner-ups in the inaugural Lightning Cup in 2010.
The Jesuit Tigers (12-4-3) defeated Plant High School on Tuesday night, 5-2 and will represent the Central Division at the championship game. Brandon Cherry led Jesuit during the regular season with 30 points and was 10th in the league with 17 assists.
"This will be an exciting experience for our program and kids to have the championship game on a rink where their favorite NHL players skate," said Jesuit head coach George Hurley. "They worked hard all season to get this opportunity and it will be a memorable event for them. We would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning for this great opportunity."
The two teams met only once during the regular season, resulting in a 3-3 tie. Jesuit erased a two-goal, third period deficit to force a draw. Tigers forward Brandon Cherry and Eagles’ forward Austin Teall led their teams with two points each in the game.
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, along with Brian Bradley, will present the winning team on Thursday night with the Lightning Conference Cup. It will be the first time in the Cup’s three year history that Manatee High School won’t been crowned as victors.
Both East Lake and Jesuit have already qualified to go to the state championships which begin in March.