It's been a day since the Norfolk Admirals hoisted the Calder Cup for the first time. The amazing thing about championships is that they're a shared milestone in the lives of, really, thousands, between the players, coaches, staff, and fans. Those journeys often contain compelling stories that make the triumph worth that journey. For Jon Cooper, it was about closing down his law practice to coach his way from Michigan high school hockey, to the USHL to working with Hockey USA, to a 2 season sprint to glory in the AHL. For Cory Conacher, it was about not being drafted and playing hockey at off-the-beaten path Canisius, dealing with diabetes, and earning an NHL contract in March of an MVP season before posting 4 assists in the championship clinching Calder Cup Finals game.
The stories of the players and the coaches are the ones we'll read about in the coming months and years, and they should be. When the Lightning made their Stanley Cup run in 2003-2004 and were playing the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals, John Tortorella refused to fire back at Ken Hithcock's remarks about "Italians from Boston," because Torts rightfully understood, "It's about the athletes." Ultimately, they're the ones who score the goals and make the saves. They sacrifice their bodies and take the stitches and they take the slings and arrows if they lose. Ultimately, it's their moment, and to a lesser extent the moments of their families who supported them in the journey up to those moments. The hockey moms and dads who woke up at 6:00 am to drive their kids to games. Scratching together money for skates and ridiculously expensive composite sticks. The wives and significant others who live with the players and coaches through the disappointments and the frustrations, and live in fear of moments when things can go wrong, like when slap shots can hit a man in the ear at 90 miles an hour, similar to what happened to Scott Jackson.
Less compelling, perhaps, is the story of an organization, but, these are stories can be worth telling, too... especially in this case. We started beta testing Bolt Prospects in 2004-2005, one year after the Lightning's Cup win, in the heart of the NHL lockout. That year was also the first year since the Detroit Vipers of the IHL folded after the 2000-2001 season that the Lightning had a full-time minor league affiliate: the Springfield Falcons. Absent a full-time affiliate, it became clear the Lightning would struggle to maintain their spot on top of the hockey mountain, because split affiliates would not give prime ice time and coaching help to another organization's players. That problem prompted the start of an 8 year process for the Lightning that ended in building what must be considered the sport's preeminent developmental apparatus with the Norfolk Admirals' Calder Cup championship and the Florida Everblades' Kelly Cup Championship.
PRINCETON, N.J. - The ECHL announced that the Augusta Lynx have suspended operations, effective immediately and voluntarily relinquished their membership back to the League. The move comes as a result of the Augusta ownership group being unable to continue to operate in 2008-09.
"We are very disappointed for our fans, league partners and the other member teams of the ECHL," said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. "The ECHL would like to thank the Lynx fans for all of their support."
Augusta players will immediately become unrestricted free agents.
The league announced that the Augusta at Mississippi on Thursday and the Gwinnett at Charlotte games on Thursday have been cancelled. The league said that work has begun on a revised version of the playing schedule which will be released as soon as possible.
The Lynx survived a 42 shot onslaught by the Charlotte Checkers snapping an 8 game losing streak by winning in a 2-1 shootout. Lightning goaltending prospect Riku Helenius did not dress for the Lynx after being recalled by Tampa to the Norfolk Admirals. Both Chris Lawrence and Kevin Quick failed to convert on their shootout attempts.
Checkers owner Michael Kahn has been linked as one of the possible investors to prop up the Lynx $300,000 budget shortfall.
Augusta 2 @ Charlotte 1 SO
D Kevin Quick: 0-0-0; E; 0 PIM; 1 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: 0-0-0; E; 2 PIM (boarding); 1 SOG
Augusta's record now stands at 6-10-1-2, and next play on Thursday night against the Mississippi Sea Wolves in Gulfport, MS.
In a home game marred by reports of financial trouble by the 10-year old Augusta franchise, the visiting Charlotte Checkers were merciless defeating the Lynx 6-2 behind a 4 goal 2nd period. Chris Lawrence assisted on the Lynx third period goal. Riku Helenius backed up Mike Brodeur before being recalled to the Norfolk Admirals. This was 2nd straight game that the Lynx lost by a score of 6-2.
Charlotte 6 @ Augusta 2
G Riku Helenius: did not play
D Kevin Quick: 0-0-0; -1; 0 PIM; 5 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: 0-1-1; +1; 0 PIM; 0 SOG
Augusta falls to 5-10-1-1, and complete the home-and-home series with the Charlotte Checkers on Sunday.
In a Friday afternoon press conference, Augusta Lynx co-owners announced that if an investor or partner isn't found "in a matter of days", the team will fold.
Saturday night's home game against the Charlotte Checkers will be just the 7th home game of the season, and 3rd weekend home game for the team. The Lynx aren't scheduled to play another home game until December 16th.
â€œI think weâ€™re going to have to have an investor,â€ co-owner Dan Troutman said. â€œQuite frankly, weâ€™ve got one more home game and then weâ€™re gone for three weeks... The long story short is weâ€™ve got to have some money quicker than we can do it with just attendance."
If the Lynx fold, Lighting prospects Kevin Quick, Chris Lawrence, and Riku Helenius could be recalled to Norfolk of the AHL since there are no roster limit maximums in the AHL, but presumably that would be a temporary solution.
Riku Helenius allowed 6 goals on 42 shots as the Gwinnett Gladiators defeated the Lynx 6-2. Augusta's winless streak now stretches to 7 games amid concerns of reports that the franchise is struggling financially. As of Thanksgiving, the Lynx have only had 6 home games, with only 2 of those games on the weekend.
No word on why Chris Lawrence was not in the lineup.
Augusta 2 @ Gwinnett 6
G Riku Helenius: 6 GA; 60:00 MIN; 42 SH; 36 SV
D Kevin Quick: 0-0-0; -1; 0 PIM; 0 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: did not play
Augusta falls to 5-9-1-1, and next play a home-and-home series with the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday and Sunday.
WJBF-TV Channel 6 in Augusta is reporting that the ECHL announced late Wednesday afternoon that the Augusta Lynx will remain a member of the league. From that JFBF report:
A release from ECHL Senior Vice President of Communications Jack Carnefix said â€œIn response to published reports about the future of the Augusta Membership, the ECHL hereby announces that contrary to those reports the Augusta Lynx continue as a member in the ECHL. Any rumors to the contrary are simply not true. Augusta plays at Gwinnett on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. and hosts Charlotte on Saturday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Charlotte on Sunday at 4 p.m.â€
The announcement came in response to a report on the Charlotte Observer newspaper web site Wednesday that said the Charlotte Checkers, as well as other ECHL teams, were adjusting their schedule to account for the Lynx disbanding. The report went on to say that the ECHL Board of Governors would meet to decide Augustaâ€™s fate on Wednesday. The ECHLâ€™s release came confirming the Lynx membership in the league came after that meeting.
By early Wednesday afternoon, the report had been removed from the Observerâ€™s web site.
Kevin Quick opened the scoring Sunday for the Lynx giving Augusta a 1-0 lead over the visiting Dayton Bombers with a power-play marker 8:19 into the 1st period on a feed from fellow Bolt prospect Chris Lawrence. Forward Patrick Bordeleau used his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame to screen Dayton goaltender Tyler Plante, and Quick's shot squeezed through for the early lead. Coming off a franchise worst 12-0 loss the previous night to Florida, the Lynx rebounded with a 17-5 shot differential in the 1st period against the Bombers, but Dayton would battle back, tallying even strength and power play goals in the 2nd period and handing the Lynx a 2-1 defeat. This was Augusta's sixth straight loss, and their third in three nights.
Dayton 2 @ Augusta 1
G Riku Helenius: did not play
D Kevin Quick: 1-0-1; E; 0 PIM; 1 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: 0-1-1; -1; 4 PIM (cross-checking; interference); 1 SOG
Augusta falls to 5-8-1-1, and play next on Thanksgiving night at 7:05pm EST against the Gwinnett Gladiators at the Gwinnett Center Arena in the north Atlanta suburb, before a home-and-home series with the Charlotte Checkers next Saturday and Sunday.
Riku Helenius allowed 8 goals on 22 shots in just under 33 minutes of work Saturday night as the Florida Everblades pimp slapped the hapless Lynx 12-0. Goaltender Mike Brodeur relieved Helenius just after midway giving up 4 more goals on another 20 shots. The game play turned ugly after the Blades put up the 8th goal with 4 Blades and 5 Lynx earning fighting majors and game misconducts at 13:54 of the 2nd period, including Lightning forward prospect Chris Lawrence. The fisticuffs continued for the remainder of the game, as the Lynx amassed a total of 142 PIMs with Florida tacking on 91 of their own PIMs.
Florida 12 @ Augusta 0
G Riku Helenius: 8 GA; 32:42 MINS; 22 SH; 14 SV;
D Kevin Quick: 0-0-0; -2; 0 PIM; 1 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: 0-0-0; -3; 15 PIM; 0 SOG
Augusta falls to 5-7-1-1 with the Dayton Bombers coming to town to play the Lynx for a Sunday afternoon mantinee.
Chris Lawrence and Kevin Quick were scoreless as the Lynx lost 2-1 to the Florida Everblades at James Brown Arena in Augusta. Riku Helenius backed up goaltender Mike Brodeur, who stopped 40 of 42 Blades shots. Helenius will likely get the Saturday night rematch against Florida, with Brodeur make in net Sunday afternoon. All signs indicate that Helenius has lost the #1 spot to Brodeur.
Florida 2 @ Augusta 1
G Riku Helenius: did not play
D Kevin Quick: 0-0-0; -1; 0 PIM; 0 SOG
F Chris Lawrence: 0-0-0; E; 0 PIM; 1 SOG
Augusta falls to 5-6-1-1.