North American Juniors
WGGB-TV out of Springfield, MA is reporting that Lightning University of Massachusettes-Amherst prospect defenseman John Wessbecker has been named to the HEAST All-Academic Team for the fourth consecutive year, earning him the Distinguish Scholar Award. Wessbecker, 22, completed his senior season at UMass-Amherst with 1 goal and 4 assists in 35 games as a stay-at-home blueliner. The Lighting have until August 15 to sign Wessbecker to an entry-level contract or he becomes a free agent.
In just a few short hours, the two year run of goaltender Torrie Jung and defenseman Michael Ward as Tampa Bay Lightning prospects could end. As 2007 draftees out of Canadian juniors, both players are facing a June 1 deadline to be signed to entry level contracts by the Lightning or be returned to the 2009 NHL entry draft later this month in Montreal. The Lighting have already signed fellow 2007 draftees Dana Tyrell and Mitch Fadden, along with 2008 draftee Dustin Tokarski to three-year rookie contracts. Jung, who had a spectacular comeback season for the Edmonton Oil Kings, has seemingly played well enough to earn a contract, but faces considerable depth in the Lightning system behind Mike Smith, Karri Ramo, Riku Helenius, and the highly touted Tokarski. Ward, while showing a more pedestrian development and is considered somewhat of a longshot to earn a contract, would seemingly benefit from a general lack of blueline depth in the Lightning system.
Defenseman John Wessbecker, a 2007 NCAA draftee out of the University of Massachusettes-Amherst, faces an August 15 deadline as a graduating senior to sign an entry level contract or be released as an unrestricted free agent.
According to posters right here on the BoltProspects Message Boards (namely Donnie D), Lightning GM Brian Lawton confirmed tonight at a Q&A session with fans that Lightning forward prospect Mitch Fadden has been signed to an entry level contract and that an official announcement would follow in a day or so. June 1 is the deadline for Fadden and fellow CHL prospects Michael Ward and Torrie Jung to be signed or return to the NHL draft. There was no word from Lawton on if Ward and Jung were also to be signed. It is also unclear whether or not Rimouski forward Luca Cunti's rights expire on June 1st along with Ward and Jung's.
PEI Rocket 2 @ Moncton Wildcats 3 (SO)
D Mark Barberio, MON: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 15 GP, 4-11-15, +9, 8 PIM
Moncton is first overall in the league at 15-0-2-0, setting a record earning points in the first 17 games of the season. The 1972-73 Quebec Remparts held the previous league record for best start to a season by earning points in the first 16 games.
Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Brampton Battalion 4
W Kyle DeCoste, BRA: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM (interference, hooking)
Season totals: DeCoste: 12 GP, 3-2-5, -4, 17 PIM
Of Note: Both Dana Tyrell and Dustin Tokarski were named to Team WHL for the upcoming ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. They are the only two Lightning prospects named to the WHL, OHL, or QMJHL teams as Mark Barberio was passed over for the Q's squad.
Sioux Falls Stampede 1 @ Fargo Force 2
D Luke Witkowski, FAR: 1-0-1,+1, 19 PIM (interference, checking from behind, fighting, 10 min misconduct), 4 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 1-1-2, +2, 26 PIM
Witkowskiâ€™s first goal of the year was the game winner for Fargo in their home debut.