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.

NHL Game Night: 3-29-14 Lightning at Sabres

When wins don't feel like wins...

TB-4
BUF-3 (OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the OT win. Wait, what? 2 goals? Yes, because in a freak play Steven Stamkos scored into his own net with Bishop pulled on a delayed penalty. It was that kind of night.

First Period
12:20 BUF D'Agostini (5), (Ristolainen, Larsson)
14:07 BUF Hodgson (17), (Ehrhoff)
17:52 TB Killorn (16), (Kucherov, Carle)
19:46 TB Stamkos (22), (Brown, Gudas)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
8:14 BUF Conacher (7), (unassisted)(EN)
10:07 TB Callahan (16), (Purcell, Stamkos)(PP)

Overtime
1:53 TB Stamkos (23), (Filppula, Purcell)(PP)

Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars. For my money, J.T. Brown deserved consideration as well, seeing as he was one of the few Lightning players who didn't snooze through about 55 minutes of play tonight.

The Lightning now have 91 points, meaning they're probably just 4-5 points away from what they need to make the postseason. The way things are looking they'll probably get Montreal with the only real question being which of the two clubs gets home ice. That's a wonderful story, given everything that's happened over the last year, and I don't want to diminish it. And, with the win tonight the Lightning have gotten points in each of their last 11 games at a time of the year when points don't come easy in order to put themselves in this position. I don't want to diminish that either. Manufacturing points isn't an easy thing.

However, at some point you keep waiting for the Lightning to show they have an extra gear up from simply manufacturing points to actually proving they're one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and that's not how the team has looked lately. Tonight was painful to watch, just like the Islanders game was. Worse, in fact, because I think the Lightning's effort level was even lower tonight than it was against the Isles. Playing against two of the most talent-bereft squads in the NHL the Lightning didn't show up and just barely scratched out 2 wins. Yeah, that'll get you in the playoffs, but let's be honest: play like that in the playoffs and Montreal will embarrass you. Flat out. Embarrass. You. This team does not, in any way shape or form, look ready for the crucible that is postseason hockey. They, at times, look like a team happy just to be near making the playoff treating the experience like a coronation. At other times, they look like a team that peaked way too soon and are now running on fumes near the finish line (Bishop falling mostly into this latter category).

Something's got to change, and I hope with home ice still on the line it doesn't take this team taking a tragic, soul-shattering butt whipping at some point in the next few games for them to realize something's got to change in the effort department.

Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 shot in 15:44.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-29-14

KHL Eastern Conference Semifinals
(4)Ufa 3 vs. (2)Astana 2
Ufa Wins the Series 4-2
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Win, 28/30, 2.00 GAA, .933 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 8-5-0, 0 SO, 2.18 GAA, .930 sv%

Oilers third rounder Anton Slepyshev's goal 1:44 into the Third Period turned out to be the game winning, series clinching goal in Ufa's 3-2 Game Six win over Astana. Ufa also got goals from former Senators draft pick Igor Mirnov and former Stars draft pick Ivan Vishnevsky in the win.

Ufa now advances to face top seeded Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL Eastern Conference Finals, setting up a titanic clash between goaltenders Vasilevskiy and Magnitogorsk's Vasily Koshechkin. It's a collision course between the old school of Lightning prospect goaltenders, Koshechkin, who has been one of the best goaltenders in Europe for over a half a decade, and the Lightning's goaltender of the future, Vasilevskiy. At stake is a spot in the KHL's Gagarin Cup Finals against Yaroslavl or Praha.

NCAA Game Night: 3-28-14

No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers 2 vs No. 13 North Dakota 5
Midwest Regional Semifinals

F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 7-11-18, +6, 10 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 2-8-10, E, 20 PIM

Fourth-seeded North Dakota upset top-seeded Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional Semifinals, 5-2. The Badgers tied the game at 2 with half a period to go, but O’Donnell’s slapshot from the right point hit teammate Mark MacMillan in the back and bounced into the net to give UND a lead they’d never relinquish. Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi scored two empty net goals to give him three goals in the game and seal the win for the former Sioux. UND will meet Ferris State on Saturday for the right to go to the Frozen Four.

No. 10 Providence Friars 4 vs No. 7 Quinnipiac Bobcats 0
East Regional Semifinals

F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 40 GP, 12-26-38, +4, 16 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 39 GP, 15-15-30, +14, 36 PIM

Friars goalie Jon Gillies stopped all 37 shots he faced to shut out the second-seeded Bobcats and lead third-seeded Providence to within one win of the Frozen Four. Providence will play Union on Saturday. Peca’s junior season is over and it’s possible he gets a contract offer from Tampa Bay to leave school and join AHL Syracuse. He told the Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson in July that he’d be open to leaving school after his junior season. Whether Lightning GM Steve Yzerman thinks pro hockey is the best thing for Peca now and next year is another story. There isn’t a lot of room in the Syracuse forward ranks for next season. Peca is a special talent with impressive intangibles. He played center this year for the first time in college. He could return to the Bobcats as their frontline center.

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