NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-1-14

Ontario Hockey League

Niagara IceDogs 1 @ North Bay Battalion 2
Battalion win best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 4-3

D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 2-0-2, -1, 8 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM

Comeback complete – twice. North Bay erased a 1-0 deficit in the third period of Game 7 to win the game, 2-1, and the series, 4-3. The Battalion were down 3-1 in the series before starting their climb. They will face Lightning prospect Jake Dotchin and Barrie in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Peterborough Petes 2 @ Kingston Frontenacs 1 (OT)
Petes win best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 4-3

W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 1-5-6, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 25-45-70, +17, 49 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM

Kingston blew a 3-1 series lead, losing twice at home in the final three games, including Game 7 in overtime. Nick Ritchie (2014) scored for Peterborough on the first shot of overtime. This ends the junior career of Lightning prospect Henri Ikonen, who will likely join the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL on a tryout agreement. He’s a near lock for a Lightning contract after an impressive training camp last fall and a solid year. He’s an energetic, complimentary winger who can chip in offensively.

NHL Game Night: 4-1-14 Canadiens at Lightning

Playoff-bound Lightning make a statement.

MTL-1
TB-3

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 26 shots for the victory. He held the team in down 1-0 and gave them time to build up momentum at the end of the Second Period and eventually run the Habs out of the building. That's what good goaltenders do.

First Period
10:18 MTL Gallagher (19), (Galchenyuk, Weaver)

Second Period
9:19 TB Callahan (17), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)

Third Period
12:41 TB Johnson (23), (unassisted)
19:15 TB Killorn (17), (Palat, Brown)(PP)(EN)

Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars. My star goes to J.T. Brown, who got called for a baloney incidental contact infraction on a Purcell goal that should have counted at the end of the Second Period where he set a near perfect screen on Carey Price, and the set up several chances for his linemates early in the Third Period. So pleased he got the second assist on the empty netter to cap the win.

For the first time in a while, I can say, "That was Lightning hockey". After sleepwalking their way to the finish line for the past several weeks, the Lightning realized the magnitude of tonight's game and they brought it for 60 minutes against the team they are battling for home ice in the first round who will likely be their opponent in the first round. Bishop was strong. They minded their details. They played hard and generated a ton of chances. The scoreboard doesn't tell the full tale. Without Price standing on his head Montreal loses this game 4-1 or 5-1. Heck, without that terrible call on Brown to end the Second Period the Lightning would've gotten to Price at least one more time.

The victory, coupled with losses by New Jersey and Washington, clinches the Lightning's playoff spot with 93 points through 76 games. I thought 96 gets you in the playoffs comfortably. The Lightning's expedited trip to get 93 points gets it all done even earlier.

Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 14:00. The end of the game had one dark cloud, and that was Doug Murray's nasty elbow to Kostka's head at the Habs blueline on a power play entry that temporarily knocked Kostka out and led to the stretcher being brought out on the ice. Fortunately, Kostka eventually got up and left on his own power, but it was a scary scene. Murray got a match penalty for targeting the head and will be serving a suspension for what he did. Hopefully Kostka doesn't miss much time, if any, because of the play.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Bolts Sign 2013 Draft Pick Adam Erne to Entry-Level Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Adam Erne to an entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. He will report to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout contract.

Erne, 18, played in 48 games with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season, recording 21 goals and 62 points along with 65 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Remparts for points and was fourth for goals. Erne played in one playoff game with Quebec during the QMJHL playoffs and recorded one goal.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound forward appeared in 180 games over three seasons with Quebec, amassing 57 goals and 189 points to go along with 164 penalty minutes. He also skated in five games for the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden, posting one assist.

Erne was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft

Bolt Prospect of the Week: March 31, 2014

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for March 24, 2014 is … Adam Wilcox, G, Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA - USA).

Adam Wilcox’s trophy mantle is filling up. It’s a good thing the Bolt Prospect of the Week award doesn’t come with a big, honkin’ trophy.

NCAA Game Night: 3-30-14

No. 8 St. Cloud State Huskies 0 vs No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers 4
West Regional Finals

G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Win, 24 saves on 24 shots, shutout
Season totals: 36 GP, 25-5-6, 1.89 GAA, .934 sv%, 4 SO
2012-2013 totals: 39 GP, 25-8-5, 1.88 GAA, .921 sv%, 3 SO

Adam Wilcox stopped all 24 shots he faced and freshman Justin Kloos (undrafted) scored twice to lead the Gophers back to the Frozen Four with a 4-0 win over St. Cloud State. Kloos was named MVP for the region. Minnesota’s defense was solid all night, limiting the Huskies to just a few scoring chances, but when they occurred, Wilcox stood tall. Minnesota will play Lightning prospect Brendan O’Donnell and the Gophers’ former WCHA rival, North Dakota in Philadelphia. Union plays Boston College in the other national semifinal. The Frozen Four features three top seeds and one fourth seed, North Dakota. The tournament gets underway April 10.

*USCHO poll used

NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 3-30-14

Ontario Hockey League

North Bay Battalion 5 @ Niagara IceDogs 1
Best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals tied, 3-3

D Dylan Blujus, NB: 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 2-0-2, -3, 8 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM

Second-seeded North Bay fought off elimination for the second-straight game, winning handily in St. Catherines, 5-1. Game 7 is Tuesday in North Bay. Dylan Blujus scored Game 6’s first goal on the power play. It was his second goal of the series. Mike Amadio (2014) had two goals for North Bay.

Kingston Frontenacs 4 @ Peterborough Petes 5
Best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals tied, 3-3

W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 1-5-6, +2, 8 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 25-45-70, +17, 49 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM

Peterborough overcame a 4-3 deficit in the third period to win Game 6, 5-4, and tie their first round series with Kingston, 3-3. The Fronts were up 3-1 in the series and now must win Game 7 at home to advance. Power winger Nick Ritchie (2014) had two goals and an assist for the Petes. Game 7 is Tuesday.

NHL Game Day: 3-30-14 Lightning at Red Wings

Things are different in the adult pool...

TB-2
DET-3

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He gave his team a chance staving off multiple breakaways to keep the game somewhat close, but once the team fell back 2 it looked like curtains, and it was.

First Period
8:40 TB Filppula (25), (unassisted)
11:08 DET Andersson (8), (Helm, Alfredsson)
15:24 DET Nyquist (27), (Legwand)

Second Period
16:36 DET Legwand (13), (Franzen, Kronwall)(PP)

Third Period
15:31 TB Salo (4), (Kucherov)

The Lightning's points streak gets snapped at 11 games. Good news/bad news. The good news is the team recognized they were playing a playoff caliber team and actually decided to skate hard. That's a welcome sign. The bad news is, you can't turn crisp hockey on and off like a light switch, and while the legs looked like they were there the brains were not. Detroit capitalized for the 2-1 First Period lead and outshot the Lightning 12-6 in the frame and never looked back. Hopefully the loss has some utility in waking the team up and preparing them for the upcoming monster matchup against Montreal.

Mike Kostka had 3 shots in 12:23.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 3-29-14

No. 6 Ferris State Bulldogs 1 vs No. 13 North Dakota 2 (2OT)
Midwest Regional Finals

F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 7-11-18, +7, 10 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 2-8-10, E, 20 PIM

Conner Gaarder (undrafted) scored at 2:28 of the second overtime to send North Dakota to the Frozen Four as Midwest Region champs. O’Donnell was on the ice when the game-winner was scored. Ferris State outshot UND 45-26, including 12-2 in the third period and 14-6 in the first overtime, but UND goaltender Zane Gothberg (Bruins) held steady.

Robert Morris Colonials 3 vs No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers 7
West Regional Semifinals

G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Win, 22 saves on 25 shots
Season totals: 35 GP, 24-5-6, 1.94 GAA, .932 sv%, 3 SO
2012-2013 totals: 39 GP, 25-8-5, 1.88 GAA, .921 sv%, 3 SO

The Gophers scored the game’s first four goals and never looked back, defeating the Colonials, 7-3, to advance to the West Regional Finals against the winner of St. Cloud State and Notre Dame. The closest RMU got was 4-2 before Minnesota extended their lead.

*USCHO poll used

Crunch See Positives Despite Shootout Loss to Senators


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite falling in a shootout, the Syracuse Crunch took plenty of positives out of the past week.

The 4-3 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday snapped the team's three-game win streak, but the Crunch still have points in four straight.

For Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, it was more about the way his team played.

"I thought our team learned how to play this week," he said. "I thought we were in peoples' faces all week, we played hard, we stuck up for each other. We did a lot of really good things -- offensively and defensively. Tonight we just came out on the wrong end of it."

AHL Game Night: 3-29-14 Senators at Crunch

Winning streak snapped. Point streak continues.

BNG-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.

First Period
BNG Grant, (8) , 9:13
SYR Marchessault, (17) (Connolly, Sustr), 18:13

Second Period
SYR Nesterov, (4) (Connolly, Angelidis), 14:39 (PP)
BNG Pageau, (17) (Grant, Wideman), 19:19 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Walker, (6) (Gourde, Korobov), 9:32 (PP)
BNG Grant, (8) (Puempel, Claesson), 14:46

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
BNG- Schneider
SYR- NONE

Cedric Paquette was the game's third star.

Binghamton's the top team in the East Division, and Syracuse gave them all they could handle tonight. That's what I want to see right now. Even if this club won't make the postseason, I want to see them competitive with playoff caliber teams, and they've looked that way over the past 4 games.

Interesting to note: Brett Connolly has had multi-point nights in 5 of his last 11 games, and he has 5 goals and 14 points over that span. He's another guy, like Sustr, who could give Jon Cooper some options once he goes up top to Tampa Bay when Syracuse's season is over. Considering the way the Lightning occasionally have looked like they're running on fumes, they have to at least ponder what someone from Syracuse (or anywhere else, for that matter) could do to inject a little energy into their lineup.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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