Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will proudly don their home countryâ€™s sweater this holiday season to compete in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. The WJCs are arguably the most exciting international hockey tournament outside of the Olympics and playing for oneâ€™s country during this event is a career builder.
Last year Carter Ashton, Brett Connolly, and Canada came up short in the finals, allowing five third period goals to Russia in the gold medal game to lose, 5-3. Host team USA beat Sweden for the bronze in Buffalo, New York.
The last Lightning prospect to win a gold medal was Dustin Tokarski for Canada in 2009 when â€œThe Tikâ€ was player of the game in the championship game â€“ a win over Victor Hedman and Sweden. Dana Tyrell was also a part of that Canadian team, but was injured in pre-tournament action and missed the tournament.
Hereâ€™s a look at each Lightning prospect participating in this yearâ€™s event, to be held December 26 through January 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Check NHL Network listings for broadcasts.
Canada 3 vs. Finland 1 (Pre-tournament match)
RW Brett Connolly, CAN: 0-1-1, 0 PIM
Canada got a win in their first pre-tournament game before the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships in Alberta. Monday night they took down Finland 3-1 in Calgaryâ€™s Saddledome. Lightning winger Brett Connolly, permitted to join Canada by Bolts general manager Steve Yzerman, had an assist for the Canadians on Boone Jenner's goal. Last year Connolly had three assists in seven games for Canada.
The best #19 on the ice tonight wore white.
Mathieu Garon allowed 2 goals on 30 shots before turning away all 3 shooters he faced for the shootout win. Credit Garon with the second point tonight for standing on his head in overtime.
NYR Callahan (11), (Richards, Stepan)(PP), 7:49
TB Malone (6), (unassisted), 11:23
NYR Anisimov (5), (Del Zotto, Dubinsky)(SH), 13:23
TB Moore (2), (Hedman, Brewer)(SH), 18:03
3:50 left in the game. Lightning down 1. Ryan Malone going off for boarding. Martin St. Louis laid up in the hospital with fractures from a puck to the face. Looking a 6 game losing streak square in the face.
And then Dominic Moore, who was the guy who broke St. Louis' face in practice earlier in the day, decided to put on a cape. The "S" on it stood for "shorthanded goal." Then it stood for "shootout winner." Then is stood for "streak is over."
Is the team fixed? No. But there's a little life in it, after looking dead as a doornail with 4 minutes left in regulation.
Oh, and a guy on a pace for 16 goals pretending like he's a longrifle wielding sniper is comical. If "Ovechkin" was Russian for "punk," then "Anisimov" must be Russian for "dummy." Wish I could've heard Tortorella's inner monologue when his player decided to act the fool like that.
Brett Connolly was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:55.
Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 4:24.
And the Lightning continue to circle the drain...
Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss. He held the Lightning in the game when they didn't deserve to be in the first period, but the second goal he allowed was very questionable and led to the third period collapse.
TB Gervais (2), (Stamkos, Bergeron), 13:52
OTT Smith (7), (Cowen, Daugavins), 16:46
TB St. Louis (8), (Stamkos), 3:35
OTT Alfredsson (6), (Spezza, Anderson), 8:58
OTT Foligno (8), (Alfredsson, Winchester), 15:33
OTT Smith (8), (Gonchar, Phillips), 16:19
I give. If the Lightning don't pull out of this tailspin tomorrow, then Yzerman needs to start working the phones.
Brett Connolly was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 8:48. There was talk he'd be in the press box tonight. He hasn't looked very effective offensively, lately. It might be time for a brief look from upstairs a la what happened in Stamkos' rookie season.
The Lightning are setting themselves up for a very difficult second half.
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss.
TB Downie (3), (Stamkos, Purcell), 1:24
NYR Fedotenko (4), (Richards, Callahan), 6:38
TB Pyatt (2), (Tyrell, Thompson), 17:42
NYR Anisimov (3), (Stepan), 6:16
NYR Stepan (5), (Anisimov, McDonagh), 16:41
NYR Richards (10), (McDonagh)(EN), 19:34
Taylor Pyatt and Victor Hedman were the game's second and third stars.
I wouldn't say the Lightning have played poorly during this 3 game losing streak. Tonight, the frustration is that the team led most of the game and saw a third period lead slip away into a loss late. The unfortunate thing is that it's digging a hole that will eventually the require the Lightning to put together some sizable winning streaks in the second half to make the post season. I guess the only silver lining is that the Caps aren't running away with the division this year, so that may still be in play in the second half. Still, the Lightning need to mind those details that will tip the balance and turn these close losses into wins.
Brett Connolly had 1 hit in 9:54.