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ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-23-17

Toledo Walleye 3 at Kalamazoo Wings 4
Series tied at 3-3

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *FIRST STAR*
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-1-5, -3, 5 PIMS, 19 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 3-7-10, +2, 2 PIMS, 19 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, 0.849 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Every now and then, a team comes along that just doesn't quit. Doesn't know they're supposed to lose. A team that can get behind the eight-ball, but somehow not get rattled, stayed poised, and scrap their way right back in it. Those kinds of teams make you fall in love with them. Those teams somehow make you believe. This Kalamazoo K-Wings team is that kind of team.

Following the heartbreaker loss of Game 5, head coach Nick Bootland came back with Joel Martin in net for a win-or-go-home Game 6 at the Wings Event Center Sunday afternoon. It was Martin's first action since Game 2 in Toledo, and after the Walleye pasted two goals on the K-Wings in the first six minutes of the contest, Bootland's decision not to start Nick Riopel seemed questionable. However, give full marks to this scrappy team for not giving up. Starting at 4:29 left in the 1st, Kalamazoo reeled off 4 straight goals on Jake Paterson, winning Game 6 by a score of 4-3 and forcing a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Toledo.

Early in the 2nd period, Bolt prospect Cam Darcy stickhandled through the left circle and threaded a perfect feed to Lane Scheidl in front of the crease, taking a check to the chops in order to make the play. Scheidl, with his back to Paterson, made a nifty little backwards between the legs shot that caught the Walleye netminder off guard for the 2-2 equalizer. Later in the period, the puck squirted out from a goal mouth scrambled and into the slot, and Bolt prospect Brian Hart skated in and roofed a wrister for the first K-Wings lead of the contest. It was Hart's fourth goal of the series and earned him First Star honors for the game. Just before the end of the 2nd period, Josh Pitt added Kalamazoo's 4th goal of the game and what would be the eventual game winner. The 3rd period had the Walleye throwing everything at the K-Wings, scoring a 3rd marker to draw within one goal and running up a 13-6 shot differential. Tonight there was no heartbreaker -- just a bus ticket punched back to Ohio with one elusive road win away from the Central Division finals against Pat Nagle and the Fort Wayne Komets, who eliminated the Quad City Mallards Saturday night in 5 games.

Lightning Ink 2016 Pick Boris Katchouk to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Boris Katchouk to a three-year, entry level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Katchouk, 18, played in 66 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League this season, recording 35 goals and 64 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1,192-pound forward ranked second on the Greyhounds for goals, third for points and fifth for assists. Katchouk paced the entire OHL for shorthanded goals with seven. The Waterloo, Ontario native also led all Greyhound skaters during the 2017 OHL Playoffs for both goals (eight) and points (13) in 11 games.

Katchouk has appeared in 141 career OHL games, all with Sault Ste. Marie over three seasons, posting 59 goals and 117 points to go along with 124 penalty minutes. He led the Greyhounds and ranked sixth in the OHL for rookie scoring during the 2015-16 season, registering 51 points.

The Lightning drafted Katchouk in the second round, 44th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-22-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Chicoutimi Sagueneens 3 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2 (2OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 9 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 3-5-8, +11, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 8-9-17, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John lost its first game of the playoffs, dropping Game 2 at home, 3-2, in double overtime. Both Lightning prospects had assists on Matthew Highmore’s goal that gave Saint John a 2-0 lead in the first period. Hurricanes prospect Nicolas Roy scored his eighth of the playoffs in the extra-extra session. Game 3 is Tuesday in Chicoutimi.

Ontario Hockey League

Mississauga Steelheads 3 @ Peterborough Petes 0
Eastern Conference Finals
Mississauga leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 5 PIM, 1 SOG, 2/8 FO
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 13 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Steelheads got a shutout win in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals series with Peterborough, putting the Petes in the unenviable position of having to win four of the next five games with three of them being on the road. The Steelheads won 5-3 Thursday in Game 1, ending the Petes eight-game win streak. Dylan Wells (Oilers) had 49 saves for an out-played Peterborough side in Game 2. Game 3 is Monday in Mississauga.

Owen Sound Attack 4 @ Erie Otters 3 (OT)
Western Conference Finals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 1-6-7, +12, 4 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 9/19 FO
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 9-5-14, +10, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 7-15-22, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Owen Sound overcame a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime and even up their Western Conference Finals series with Erie at one game apiece. Matt Schmalz (Kings) scored the game-winner. Taylor Raddysh had a helper for Erie. Game 3 is Monday in Owen Sound.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-22-17 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunchning Death Star comes from behind to quell rebel IceCaps uprising in 2OT.

SYR-4
STJ-3 (2OT)

Series Tied 1-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 41 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:33 STJ de la Rose (1), (Matteau, Friberg)
10:10 SYR Koekkoek (1), (Peca, Condra)

Third Period
4:46 STJ Hudon (1), (Terry, Scherbak)
8:30 STJ Matteau (1), (Friberg, Redmond)
15:43 SYR Taormina (1), (Condra, Conacher)
17:16 SYR Conacher (1), (Taormina, Thomas)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Double Overtime
10:37 SYR McGinn (2), (Peca, Taormina)

Tye McGinn and Cory Conacher were the game's first and third stars.

In these shortened best-of-five opening round series, it's not necessarily a death sentence to fall behind 2-0 on the road, but it seriously puts the favorite behind the eight ball if they do. Syracuse faced that dire prospect tonight down 2 goals with 6 minutes to go in regulation, when the Crunch veterans decided to put their stamp on this game and quite possibly change the course of this series.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-17

Kalamazoo Wings 2 at Toledo Walleye 3
Toledo leads series 3-2

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 5 PIMS, 4 SOG
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-1-4, -2, 5 PIMS, 15 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIMS, 3 SOG, *THIRD STAR*
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 2 PIMS, 17 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, L, 59:40 MINS, 24/27
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, 0.849 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Occasionally you just know if you post a game report right after the game, you'll just throw up. Such as the case after Friday night's heartbreaking road loss in Toledo for the K-Wings. After these two teams swapped 23 goals in the last 2 games, Game 5 of a 2-2 knotted series saw both squads buckle down and focus on keeping keeping pucks out of the net, and it served up a nail biter for the Kalamazoo faithful. After all, this series wasn't supposed to go down like this. A K-Wings team that struggled for a good part of the season was expected to just be a minor bump in the road for the Brabham Cup winning Toledo Walleye, the ECHL's best regular season team. Except someone forgot to tell the K-Wings. Through 4 games, Kalamazoo has given the Walleye all they can handle, and through it all shown tremendous poise. And so with Game 5 after both teams won back-to-backs at home, the teams returned to Toledo with a tall order for the K-Wings to take a game on the road, a must if Kalamazoo is to pull the upset and advance to the Central Division finals. They came close in Game 1, battling back from a 4-1 deficit to pressing for the equalizer with the clock ticking off the last seconds of the game.

But let's talk about Game 5 as heart wrenching as it may be. Bolt prospect forward Cameron Darcy broke the 0-0 deadlock late in a evenly-played first period when he one-timed a power play marker past Toledo netminder Jake Paterson for the early 1-0 lead. Both Paterson and Kalamazoo goalie Nick Riopel were spectacular in keeping the other team from getting a big 1st period lead, one of the hallmarks of the series thus far. Peter Schneider assisted on Darcy's power play goal, his 19th consecutive game to point, and there's little doubt that Darcy has figured into most of those points Schneider has racked up. Darcy has been such a dynamic playmaker for the K-Wings since joining the team from Syracuse with 20 games left in the regular season. In those 25 games, Darcy has 26 assists and 34 points, playing mostly with Schneider on both the power play and even strength. Darcy earned Third Star honors in this road loss, marking three times he's earned one of the three stars of the game during this series.

After the Walleye knotted the game at 1-1 midway through the 2nd period, fellow Bolt prospect forward Brian Hart picked up a loose rebound from a Tyler Biggs wrister and slipped it past Paterson for a 2-1 K-Wing lead. Hart seems so effective when he's playing that Tomas Holmstrom style game that earned him 11 goals for the Swamp Rabbits last season. It was Hart's third straight game in the series that he's scored, and his play in the series has certainly been a difference maker for a Kalamazoo team that needs contributions up and down the lineup if they are to advance past the Walleye. Hart also fought former Syracuse Cruncher Evan Rankin in the first period, reminding us that Hart has taken far fewer penalties this season for a player of his size. Welcome back, Mr. Hart, we've missed you.

In some respects, the heartbreak was telegraphed at the end of the 2nd period. With 35 seconds remaining, Rankin was involved in a goal mouth scramble that resulted in Tyson Spink getting the 2-2 equalizer past Riopel. Goals scored in the last minute of a period just can't happen. The third period was some of the best hockey of the series, as both team battled hard. Both teams killed of crucial penalties, and the Walleye and Jake Paterson managed to keep the K-Wings pressure at bay. That is until 23 seconds left in regulation, when A.J. Jenks chased down puck in the Kalamazoo zone and buried a short-side goal past Riopel for the win. Heartbreak. The kind that leaves you speechless and wanting to throw up.

The series shifts back to Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon, with the K-Wings facing elimination. They've been offensively prolific at home during the series, but need to play defense their road defense game. You simply cannot expect to put up a snowman on the Walleye again.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-21-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Chicoutimi Sagueneens 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 4
QMJHL Semifinals
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 3-4-7, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 8-8-16, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John moved to 9-0 in the post-season with a 4-1 win over the Sags in Game 1 of their semifinal series. Joseph took a nasty hit to the head early in the game, but rebounded to finish with a goal and first star. All five goals were scored in the second period. Game 2 is Saturday.

Ontario Hockey League

Owen Sound Attack 1 @ Erie Otters 6
Western Conference Finals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, +3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 1-6-7, +14, 4 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 8/19 FO
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 9-5-14, +11, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 2-1-3, +3, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 7-14-21, +10, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie drew first blood in the Western Conference Finals, snapping Owen Sound’s four-game win streak with a 6-1 Game 1 win. Raddysh scored both his goals early in the second period as Erie was building a 5-0 lead. Cirelli scored the series-opening goal. Game 2 is Saturday.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-17 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunchning Death Star finds it harder to destroy worlds in opening playoff tilt.

SYR-1
STJ-2

St. John's Leads the Series 1-0

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the loss.

First Period
16:05 STJ Scherbak (1), (Hudon, de la Rose)(PP)

Second Period
2:59 STJ Terry (1), (Hudon)

Third Period
10:21 SYR McGinn (1), (Peca, Howden)(PP)

McKenna was the game's third star.

Seems like the 'ning part of the equation may need to be a little more assertive in Game Two. Among the cadre of forwards who returned from Tampa Bay at season's end, the Crunch got 0 shots on goal from Conacher and Vermin and just 1 shot on goal a piece from Dumont and Gourde. At this time of year, your best players need to be your best players.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Focused on Own Play Heading Into Playoffs


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The teams are certainly well-acquainted.

Blowout wins. Shootout losses. Rowdy games with multiple dustups.

When the puck drops in St. John’s for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Playoffs’ North Division Semifinals Friday evening, it will be the ninth meeting between the Syracuse Crunch and the IceCaps this season.

The Crunch know what to expect — they were 4-1-2-1 in the season series — but are focused on their play instead of what the IceCaps bring.

“I think there’s no secret for us, and there’s no secret for them,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We know each other pretty well, and it’s going to be on us to play to our strengths.”

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-19-17

Toledo Walleye 5 at Kalamazoo Wings 8
Best of seven series tied at 2-2

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG, *THIRD STAR*
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-1-3, -1, 0 PIMS, 11 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 1-2-3, +2, 0 PIMS, 1 SOG, *SECOND STAR*
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-6-8, +2, 2 PIMS, 14 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, W, 60:00 MINS, 31/36
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-1-0-0, 4.35 GAA, 0.835 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

For the second time in as many nights, Bolt prospect forwards Brian Hart and Cameron Darcy were instrumental in helping bring home a big win for the K-Wings. Darcy earned second star honors with a goal and two assists in Kalamazoo's 8-5 victory over Toledo to knot the series at two games each. Hart earned the third star with a goal and an assist of his own. K-Wings head coach Darryl Bootland went back with Nic Riopel in net after last night's Game 3 and was rewarded with a 31 save performance. The Walleye threw 29 shots at Riopel in the 2nd and 3rd periods, and the netminder bent but he didn't break.

Similar to Game 3, Kalamazoo came out of the gate furiously, slinging 16 shots at the Toledo netminders. But unlike Game 3, the K-Wings got to Toledo goalie Jake Paterson early and often, scoring 4 goals in the first 13 minutes and causing a goalie change to backup netminder Jeff Lerg. Kalamazoo added two more in the 2nd period and carried a 6-2 advantage into the locker room at the 2nd intermission. Toledo came out in the third period flying, running off three straight goals and closing the gap to 6-5 with still a half of a period to play. But the K-Wings showed great poise and closed out the last half of the period a couple of timely markers to seal the victory.

Both teams have held serve on home ice and the series shifts back to Toledo for Game 5 on Friday night, with Game 6 returning to the Wings Event Center Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile in the other Central Division semi-final, the Fort Wayne Komets won in OT Wednesday to take a commanding 3-0 in their series with the Quad Cities Mallards.

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-18-17

Toledo Walleye 4 at Kalamazoo Wings 6
Toledo leads series 2-1

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-0-1, E, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *SECOND STAR*
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIMS, 9 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIMS, 7 SOG
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 1-4-5, E, 2 PIMS, 13 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, W, 60:00 MINS, 17/21
Playoff Totals: 2 GP, 1-1-0-0, 4.02 GAA, 0.814 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Bolt prospect forwards Brian Hart and Cameron Darcy both featured prominently in a huge K-Wings Game 3 victory Tuesday night back at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. The K-Wings peppered Walleye netminder with 52 shots, while the Kalamazoo defense held the high-powered Toledo offense to just 21 shots. Hart scored the game winner with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, while Darcy assisted on all three of Peter Schneider's goals, including the empty netter with 22 seconds remaining to seal the four-goal 3rd period K-Wing flurry and a 6-4 win in front of nearly 1,200 hometown fans. Hart's game winner earned him Second Star honors. Both Darcy and Schneider logged a team-high 7 shots each.

Despite 20 first period Kalamazoo shots, the first frame ended knotted at 1-1 as Justin Taylor finally solved Peterson with less than 90 seconds remaining in the period. The period ended with a Kalamazoo penalty and the Walleye took a 2-1 lead on the power play just 50 seconds into the second period. Kalamazoo tied the game 5 minutes later with a power-play goal of their own started by Darcy and ending with Schneider's first of the night. Later in the period, former Cruncher Evan Rankin tallied his 4th goal of the series for the Walleye, giving the Division champs the 3-2 lead at the second intermission. Early in the third, Darcy went back to work with some nifty puck magic before feeding Schneider for his second goal and the 3-3 equalizer. Both teams traded goals before the period's midpoint, until Hart broke the 4-4 tie late in the period with a one-time blast from the slot past Peterson.

Another pivotal game awaits the K-Wings Wednesday night, as these teams battle again in Kalamazoo for Game 4. It will be interesting to see if the Walleye roll out backup Jeff Lerg in net after a three consecutive doses of Jake Peterson, and while neither K-Wing goalie has been a difference maker in the series thus far, Riopel is coming off the team's only series win.

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