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Bolt Prospects' 2015-2016 Midterm Rankings

Introduction
Now past the All-Star Break of the 2015-2016 campaign, it's time for Bolt Prospects' Midterm Rankings. The year thus far might be summed up best by one word: adversity. Adversity has visited the big league club in the way of injuries, contractual uncertainties, and off-ice controversies. Nothing quite so soap operatic has besieged the Syracuse Crunch or the team's other young prospects, but adversity has found its way all the way down into the pipeline, as well.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 53

This week’s “Luke Witkowski Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· Interview with squid-throwing prospect Luke Witkowski
· Coach’s seat heating up quickly in Syracuse
· Crunch fans the Rodney Dangerfield of AHL fanbases
· DeAngelo drama
· When the Lightning losing is acceptable (and when it’s not)
· TB’s goaltender of the future to be determined by Stamkos?

Juniors Game Night: 2-13-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Baie-Comeau Drakkar 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 5

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 2 Hits
Season totals: 33 GP, 4-10-14, -3, 54 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-1-2, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 Hit, *Third Star*
Season totals: 48 GP, 29-31-61, +33, 49 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Mathieu Joseph continued his torrid scoring pace with another 2-point game Saturday. He scored shorthanded against the Drakkar. The 2015 fourth rounder has an 8-game point streak in which he has 16 points.

Halifax Mooseheads 2 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 3 (OT)

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM, 4 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 47 GP, 29-31-60, +6, 62 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan scored his 29th of the season, but just his first in his last eight games.

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 4 @ Hamilton Bulldogs 3 (OT)

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season totals: 42 GP, 6-16-22, +28, 34 PIM
2014-15 totals: 48 GP, 7-19-26, -13, 68 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 45 GP, 3-17-20, -1, 40 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

Peterborough scored late in the third and again in overtime to steal a road win over the Bulldogs, 4-3.

Western Hockey League

Saskatoon Blades 4 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 7

C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Season totals: 33 GP, 27-36-63, +18, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Brayden Point was named second star for the second straight night as Moose Jaw beat visiting Saskatoon, 7-4. Point has five points in two games since missing two games with an undisclosed injury.

Vancouver Giants @ Kamloops Blazers (late)

D Ben Thomas, VAN: ----------
Season totals: 58 GP, 7-18-25, -19, 32 PIM
With Vancouver: 43 GP, 7-15-22, -8, 20 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Game will be updated Sunday.

United States Hockey League

Cedar Rapids Roughriders 1 @ Omaha Lancers 4

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Win, 13 saves on 14 shots, *Third Star*
Season totals: 22 GP, 12-7-2, 2.59 GAA, .914 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Oldham broke a personal 3-game losing streak with a third star effort Saturday. He only faced 14 shots in the game.

NCAA Game Night: 2-13-16

No. 7 Boston University Terriers 3 @ No. 11 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 6

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 24 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 22 PIM
2014-2015 totals: 37 GP, 2-7-9, +19, 58 PIM

MacLeod got in back-to-back games against the River Hawks, an overtime win Friday and a 6-3 loss Saturday. He finished the home-and-home series -4. Dylan Zink (undrafted) had a hat trick Saturday for UMass-Lowell.

No. 17 Minnesota State Mavericks 1 @ Alabama-Huntsville Chargers 1 (OT)

W Jimmy Mullin, MSU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 22 GP, 1-6-7, -4, 6 PIM
2013-2014 totals (Miami): 19 GP, 1-6-7, 23 PIM

The Mavs and UAH tied for the second straight night. On Saturday, 6-5 Chargers goalie Matt Larose (undrafted) stopped 49 of 50 shots.

*USCHO poll used

AHL Game Night: 2-13-16 Crunch at Senators

Hard luck loss for Vasiy.

SYR-0
BNG-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the loss. Given the number of goals Syracuse has been allowing lately, that might be considered a Herculean effort.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
BNG Flanagan, (5) (Bailey, Stortini), 16:35 (PP)
BNG Robinson, (10) (Schneider, Fraser), 19:37 (EN/SH)

Vasilevskiy was the game's third star.

Note that Anthony DeAngelo was a scratch for a third straight game. Evidently, someone's been naughty.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Euro Hockey Tour Game Day: 2-13-16

Czech Republic 2 vs. Russia 4
Nikita Gusev, Russia, 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Tournament totals: 2 GP, 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM

Nikita Gusev assisted had a power play assist and an even strength insurance goal in Russia's 4-2 win over Czech Republic. Gusev is playing on Russia's top line with center Nikolai Prokhorkin, an ex-Kings 4th rounder, and winger Alexander Semin, the ex-NHLer. Semin scored the power play goal on Gusev's helper and assisted on Gusev's goal.

Juniors Game Night: 2-12-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Val-d’Or Foreurs 0 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits
Season totals: 46 GP, 28-31-59, +5, 62 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Yan continues to struggle to put up points in the second half of the year. Philippe Cadorette, who camped with the Lightning this past fall, stopped 26 shots for the shutout to set the league’s all-time record for lifetime shutouts at 17. Cadorette is only 5-11, but could see another shot with a pro team next year.

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 0 @ Ottawa 67’s 3

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 13/19 FO
Season totals: 49 GP, 15-29-44, -16, 21 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Ottawa got 31 saves from Leo Lazarev (undrafted) in a shutout win over Cirelli and the Gens.

Windsor Spitfires 1 @ Kingston Frontenacs 2

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, +1, 5 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 47 GP, 15-23-38, +20, 68 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

DiGiacinto had an assist and fought Cody Caron (undrafted).

Saginaw Spirit 3 @ Sudbury Wolves 7

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 2-1-3, +2, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 17/29 FO
Season totals: 25 GP, 13-10-23, +3, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

Stephens built on Thursday night’s goal with two more Friday, but the struggling Spirit dropped its seventh game in a row.

Western Hockey League

Swift Current Broncos 4 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 6

C Brayden Point, MJ: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Season totals: 32 GP, 26-34-60, +17, 19 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Point was back in the Warriors lineup after missing two games, and the captain promptly scored a goal and added an assist in a big Moose Jaw home win.

Kamloops Blazers 5 @ Vancouver Giants 0

D Ben Thomas, VAN: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 58 GP, 7-18-25, -19, 32 PIM
With Vancouver: 43 GP, 7-15-22, -8, 20 PIM
With Calgary: 14 GP, 0-3-3, -10, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Both teams had 34 shots, but Kamloops 6-1 goalie Conner Ingram (2016) stopped every one that he saw.

United States Hockey League

Madison Capitols 2 @ Omaha Lancers 3 (OT)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 21 GP, 11-7-2, 2.67 GAA, .913 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)

Oldham sat for the second straight game. California native Nick Rivera (undrafted, Minnesota State commit) had two goals for Omaha.

Sioux City Musketeers 0 @ Chicago Steel 7

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: Did not play
Season totals: 27 GP, 0-22-22, -5, 30 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Zuhlsdorf, the Musketeers’ captain, remains out of the Sioux City lineup with a concussion sustained January 8.

NCAA Game Night: 2-12-16

No. 11 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 1 vs No. 7 Boston University Terriers 2 (OT)

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 23 GP, 1-1-2, -1, 22 PIM
2014-2015 totals: 37 GP, 2-7-9, +19, 58 PIM

MacLeod was back in the lineup after missing the Beanpot championship loss as a scratch. BU needed overtime for another win, and got it on a goal by 6-5 Minnesota second rounder (2015) Jordan Greenway.

No. 17 Minnesota State Mavericks 3 @ Alabama-Huntsville Chargers 3 (OT)

W Jimmy Mullin, MSU: 0-2-2, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 21 GP, 1-6-7, -4, 6 PIM
2013-2014 totals (Miami): 19 GP, 1-6-7, 23 PIM

Mullin had two helpers as the Mavs managed a tie in Alabama, 3-3. Minnesota State outshot UAH, 7-1, in the extra session, but couldn’t get the game-winner.

*USCHO poll used

NHL Game Night: 2-12-16 Predators at Lightning

Lightning snatch hope from the jaws of despair.

NSH-3
TB-4 (OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the OT victory. I suspect he wants the opening goal by Fisher back, but it's hard to fault him for the turnstile quality defense in front of him in the Third Period.

First Period
9:40 NSH Fisher(8), (Arvidsson, Ekholm)

Second Period
8:22 TB Brown(7), (Filppula, Sustr)
10:07 TB Kucherov(22), (Nesterov, Bishop)

Third Period
4:01 NSH Neal(20), (Josi, Jackman)
7:46 NSH Forsberg(18), (Ribeiro, Josi)
19:33 TB Stamkos(22), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Overtime
1:04 TB Johnson(8), (Hedman, Stamkos)

Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

It's remarkable the difference between the Lightning road power play and the home power play of late, and you won't get a bigger power play goal than the tying marker by Steven Stamkos late in regulation. It may have saved the Lightning from digging another hole late in the season. More on that later.

Matt Carle was -2 and had a nice view of the James Neal breakaway to tie the game in the Third Period. Bottom line: the guy's not an NHL player anymore. His skating, which was his calling card when he came into the league, is shot and his hands/dexterity seem to be deteriorating too. In my opinion, this call up of Slater Koekkoek for the injured Jason Garrison isn't just a call up. If he plays well, I have a feeling it will be the call up. It was clear the coaching staff had lost faith in Carle prior to the Garrison injure, as he pretty much became a regular scratch. Last year, in the Stanley Cup Final, they learned a pretty serious lesson about defensive depth, as Carle's pairing with Sustr seemed to drag the team under, routinely. Because of that, and Brayden Coburn's impending free agency, I always suspected Koekkoek would be up in the second half of the season. Now, I wouldn't be shocked if he outright takes Carle's roster spot and sends the veteran home or to Syracuse once Garrison returns in 3-5 weeks. I expect Koekkoek in next time out, and I expect to see flashes of his Hedman-lite play.

The Lightning's win was critical, because it gives them a chance to stay on pace for this 10-game segment of the year at the halfway point of 5 games. They couldn't afford a 3-game losing streak at this time of the season with another quality opponent coming up next.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with a helper, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:57. Nesterov's now 9 games away from graduation from prospect status on the website.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Liiga Game Day: 2-12-16

HPK 1 vs. KalPa 0
Jonne Tammela, KalPa, DNP
Season totals: 32 GP, 4-7-11, +8, 16 PIM

Ex-Oilers pick Samu Perhonen stopped all 14 shots he faced to help HPK blank KalPa 1-0. Perhonen's shutout comes at the hands of his ex-team, which loaned him to HPK earlier this season. Lightning pick Jonne Tammela is currently off playing in a tournament with the Finnish junior team.

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