AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-26-17 IceCaps at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star on the cusp of advancing.

STJ-2
SYR-3

Syracuse Leads the Series 2-1

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the pivotal Game Three victory.

First Period
11:30 SYR Vermin (1), (Howden, Ikonen)
13:28 SYR Condra (1), (McGinn, Taormina)

Second Period
12:17 STJ Redmond (1), (Hudon, Scherbak)(PP)
12:45 STJ Matteau (2), (Friberg, Lernout)
16:05 SYR Froese (1), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Mike McKenna, Byron Froese, and Erik Condra were the game's three stars, as the vets continue to lead the way. That said, it should be noted that Brett Howden continues to be a contributor for the club since coming on board late in the regular season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-25-17

Kalamazoo Wings 1 at Toledo Walleye 3
Toledo wins series 4-3

F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMS, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 4-1-5, -3, 5 PIMS, 20 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIMS, 5 SOG
Playoff Totals: 7 GP, 3-7-10, +1, 2 PIMS, 24 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, 0.849 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Thirty-six seconds. That was the difference in this game, in this series. Former Syracuse Crunch forward Evan Rankin broke loose at 8:29 into a 1-1 tied 3rd period, and buries the eventual game winner past Kalamzaoo netminder Joel Martin. Thirty-six seconds later, Zach Nastasiuk takes advantage of a bad K-Wings change and blows in alone and stuffs another past Martin for the 3-1 Toledo lead and eventual win. The Walleye advance to play the Fort Wayne Komets in the Central Division finals. Toledo, under ECHL Coach of the Year Dan Watson, won an ECHL record 51 regular season games, but Kalamazoo gave them everything they could handle in this series. The K-Wings could just never break through to take that necessary road win, as the home team won each game in the series. Brian Hart didn't get credit for the K-Wings goal in the 1st period, but the replay sure looked like he deflected Charlie Vasaturo's point shot from the top of the crease in front of Toledo backup netminder Jeff Lerg. Walleye goalie Jake Paterson left the game in the first with an undisclosed injury, and you have to hand it to Lerg making 13 saves on 14 shots coming in cold in a Game 7. Kalamazoo can hold their heads high despite the outcome, as it was a great run down the stretch for a team that really seemed to turn the corner in the last third of the season.

Bolt Prospects now turns our attention to prospect forwards Cameron Darcy and Brian Hart. The Syracuse Crunch are still early in the Calder Cup playoffs, but its extremely crowded at the forward position. Perhaps they will be able to join the practice squad, with an outside chance of maybe Darcy getting in a game at some point. He has earned it with his stellar play over the last 26 games in Kalamazoo, but there is a lot of young players with skill getting a look-see and plenty of vets needed to help secure a series win against St. John's, so it would certainly be a long shot. With Connor Ingram with the Crunch, I doubt we see Nick Riopel recalled, unless the practice squad needs a second goalie.

Looking forward to next season with both Darcy and Hart in the final years of their ELCs, the Crunch lineup at forward will be tough to crack. Stephens, Joseph, Cirelli, Yan, Tammela along with Peca, Bournival, Froese, and McGinn, and Erne and Condra as bubble guys will all be in the mix. That's 9-11 forwards without even considering (re)signing of veteran free agents. Darcy and Hart will have their work cut out for them, but Darcy in particular was such a critical piece of the late season success of the K-Wings team, and he deserves more than a hat tip for going down and being one of the team's best players game in and game out.

We'll end the ECHL season coverage at Bolt Prospects will a salute to the Kalamazoo Wings. It was a fun and dramatic series to watch, and like the rest of the organization, it seems like the future is brighter than today is.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-25-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 5 @ Chicoutimi Sagueneens 0
QMJHL Semifinals
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 2-0-2, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 3 Hits, *Second Star*
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 5-5-10, +14, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, +2, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 9-9-18, +13, 14 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John responded to a Game 2 loss – its first of the playoffs – with a 5-0 shutout win Tuesday in Game 3. The shutout by Callum Booth (Hurricanes) gave the Dogs home ice advantage back in their favor. Boko Imama scored for the first time since the first round, then scored again to put Saint John up 2-0 in the third period. They scored four times in the final frame. Game 4 is Wednesday.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-24-17

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 1 @ Mississauga Steelheads 2 (2OT)
Eastern Conference Finals
Mississauga leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 8/17 FO
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 15 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 11 GP, 1-6-7, +12, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

With Lightning GM Steve Yzerman in attendance, Mississauga got a goal from Devils prospect Michael McLeod on a pass from his brother, Ryan, to beat the Petes, 2-1, in double overtime. Yzerman played for Peterborough as a junior. The Petes find themselves in a 3-0 hole heading into Wednesday’s Game 4.

Erie Otters 3 @ Owen Sound Attack 6
Western Conference Finals
Owen Sound leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 1-6-7, +11, 4 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, 9/17 FO
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 9-6-15, +11, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 14 GP, 8-16-24, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Owen Sound took Game 3 at home against top-seeded Erie, winning, 6-3. Ethan Szypula (undrafted) had two goals and an assist, and Nick Suzuki (2017) had three assists for the Attack. Taylor Raddysh had a goal and an assist for Erie. Game 4 is Wednesday.

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-23-17

Toledo Walleye 3 at Kalamazoo Wings 4
Series tied at 3-3

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *FIRST STAR*
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 4-1-5, -3, 5 PIMS, 19 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 3-7-10, +2, 2 PIMS, 19 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play (backup)
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, 0.849 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Every now and then, a team comes along that just doesn't quit. Doesn't know they're supposed to lose. A team that can get behind the eight-ball, but somehow not get rattled, stayed poised, and scrap their way right back in it. Those kinds of teams make you fall in love with them. Those teams somehow make you believe. This Kalamazoo K-Wings team is that kind of team.

Following the heartbreaker loss of Game 5, head coach Nick Bootland came back with Joel Martin in net for a win-or-go-home Game 6 at the Wings Event Center Sunday afternoon. It was Martin's first action since Game 2 in Toledo, and after the Walleye pasted two goals on the K-Wings in the first six minutes of the contest, Bootland's decision not to start Nick Riopel seemed questionable. However, give full marks to this scrappy team for not giving up. Starting at 4:29 left in the 1st, Kalamazoo reeled off 4 straight goals on Jake Paterson, winning Game 6 by a score of 4-3 and forcing a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Toledo.

Early in the 2nd period, Bolt prospect Cam Darcy stickhandled through the left circle and threaded a perfect feed to Lane Scheidl in front of the crease, taking a check to the chops in order to make the play. Scheidl, with his back to Paterson, made a nifty little backwards between the legs shot that caught the Walleye netminder off guard for the 2-2 equalizer. Later in the period, the puck squirted out from a goal mouth scrambled and into the slot, and Bolt prospect Brian Hart skated in and roofed a wrister for the first K-Wings lead of the contest. It was Hart's fourth goal of the series and earned him First Star honors for the game. Just before the end of the 2nd period, Josh Pitt added Kalamazoo's 4th goal of the game and what would be the eventual game winner. The 3rd period had the Walleye throwing everything at the K-Wings, scoring a 3rd marker to draw within one goal and running up a 13-6 shot differential. Tonight there was no heartbreaker -- just a bus ticket punched back to Ohio with one elusive road win away from the Central Division finals against Pat Nagle and the Fort Wayne Komets, who eliminated the Quad City Mallards Saturday night in 5 games.

Lightning Ink 2016 Pick Boris Katchouk to Entry Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Boris Katchouk to a three-year, entry level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Katchouk, 18, played in 66 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League this season, recording 35 goals and 64 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1,192-pound forward ranked second on the Greyhounds for goals, third for points and fifth for assists. Katchouk paced the entire OHL for shorthanded goals with seven. The Waterloo, Ontario native also led all Greyhound skaters during the 2017 OHL Playoffs for both goals (eight) and points (13) in 11 games.

Katchouk has appeared in 141 career OHL games, all with Sault Ste. Marie over three seasons, posting 59 goals and 117 points to go along with 124 penalty minutes. He led the Greyhounds and ranked sixth in the OHL for rookie scoring during the 2015-16 season, registering 51 points.

The Lightning drafted Katchouk in the second round, 44th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-22-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Chicoutimi Sagueneens 3 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2 (2OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 9 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 3-5-8, +11, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 8-9-17, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John lost its first game of the playoffs, dropping Game 2 at home, 3-2, in double overtime. Both Lightning prospects had assists on Matthew Highmore’s goal that gave Saint John a 2-0 lead in the first period. Hurricanes prospect Nicolas Roy scored his eighth of the playoffs in the extra-extra session. Game 3 is Tuesday in Chicoutimi.

Ontario Hockey League

Mississauga Steelheads 3 @ Peterborough Petes 0
Eastern Conference Finals
Mississauga leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-0-0, E, 5 PIM, 1 SOG, 2/8 FO
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 3-3-6, +5, 13 PIM
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Playoff Totals: 10 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 6 PIM
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Steelheads got a shutout win in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals series with Peterborough, putting the Petes in the unenviable position of having to win four of the next five games with three of them being on the road. The Steelheads won 5-3 Thursday in Game 1, ending the Petes eight-game win streak. Dylan Wells (Oilers) had 49 saves for an out-played Peterborough side in Game 2. Game 3 is Monday in Mississauga.

Owen Sound Attack 4 @ Erie Otters 3 (OT)
Western Conference Finals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 1-6-7, +12, 4 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 9/19 FO
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 9-5-14, +10, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff Totals: 13 GP, 7-15-22, +11, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Owen Sound overcame a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime and even up their Western Conference Finals series with Erie at one game apiece. Matt Schmalz (Kings) scored the game-winner. Taylor Raddysh had a helper for Erie. Game 3 is Monday in Owen Sound.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-22-17 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunchning Death Star comes from behind to quell rebel IceCaps uprising in 2OT.

SYR-4
STJ-3 (2OT)

Series Tied 1-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 41 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:33 STJ de la Rose (1), (Matteau, Friberg)
10:10 SYR Koekkoek (1), (Peca, Condra)

Third Period
4:46 STJ Hudon (1), (Terry, Scherbak)
8:30 STJ Matteau (1), (Friberg, Redmond)
15:43 SYR Taormina (1), (Condra, Conacher)
17:16 SYR Conacher (1), (Taormina, Thomas)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Double Overtime
10:37 SYR McGinn (2), (Peca, Taormina)

Tye McGinn and Cory Conacher were the game's first and third stars.

In these shortened best-of-five opening round series, it's not necessarily a death sentence to fall behind 2-0 on the road, but it seriously puts the favorite behind the eight ball if they do. Syracuse faced that dire prospect tonight down 2 goals with 6 minutes to go in regulation, when the Crunch veterans decided to put their stamp on this game and quite possibly change the course of this series.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

ECHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-17

Kalamazoo Wings 2 at Toledo Walleye 3
Toledo leads series 3-2

F Brian Hart, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 5 PIMS, 4 SOG
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-1-4, -2, 5 PIMS, 15 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 33 GP, 6-5-11, -7, 6 PIMs, 71 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIMS, 3 SOG, *THIRD STAR*
Playoff Totals: 5 GP, 3-6-9, +1, 2 PIMS, 17 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 20 GP, 5-20-25, +11, 10 PIMs, 51 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, L, 59:40 MINS, 24/27
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, 0.849 SV%
Season Totals (ECHL): 32 GP, 18-12-0-1, 3.13 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 1 SO

Occasionally you just know if you post a game report right after the game, you'll just throw up. Such as the case after Friday night's heartbreaking road loss in Toledo for the K-Wings. After these two teams swapped 23 goals in the last 2 games, Game 5 of a 2-2 knotted series saw both squads buckle down and focus on keeping keeping pucks out of the net, and it served up a nail biter for the Kalamazoo faithful. After all, this series wasn't supposed to go down like this. A K-Wings team that struggled for a good part of the season was expected to just be a minor bump in the road for the Brabham Cup winning Toledo Walleye, the ECHL's best regular season team. Except someone forgot to tell the K-Wings. Through 4 games, Kalamazoo has given the Walleye all they can handle, and through it all shown tremendous poise. And so with Game 5 after both teams won back-to-backs at home, the teams returned to Toledo with a tall order for the K-Wings to take a game on the road, a must if Kalamazoo is to pull the upset and advance to the Central Division finals. They came close in Game 1, battling back from a 4-1 deficit to pressing for the equalizer with the clock ticking off the last seconds of the game.

But let's talk about Game 5 as heart wrenching as it may be. Bolt prospect forward Cameron Darcy broke the 0-0 deadlock late in a evenly-played first period when he one-timed a power play marker past Toledo netminder Jake Paterson for the early 1-0 lead. Both Paterson and Kalamazoo goalie Nick Riopel were spectacular in keeping the other team from getting a big 1st period lead, one of the hallmarks of the series thus far. Peter Schneider assisted on Darcy's power play goal, his 19th consecutive game to point, and there's little doubt that Darcy has figured into most of those points Schneider has racked up. Darcy has been such a dynamic playmaker for the K-Wings since joining the team from Syracuse with 20 games left in the regular season. In those 25 games, Darcy has 26 assists and 34 points, playing mostly with Schneider on both the power play and even strength. Darcy earned Third Star honors in this road loss, marking three times he's earned one of the three stars of the game during this series.

After the Walleye knotted the game at 1-1 midway through the 2nd period, fellow Bolt prospect forward Brian Hart picked up a loose rebound from a Tyler Biggs wrister and slipped it past Paterson for a 2-1 K-Wing lead. Hart seems so effective when he's playing that Tomas Holmstrom style game that earned him 11 goals for the Swamp Rabbits last season. It was Hart's third straight game in the series that he's scored, and his play in the series has certainly been a difference maker for a Kalamazoo team that needs contributions up and down the lineup if they are to advance past the Walleye. Hart also fought former Syracuse Cruncher Evan Rankin in the first period, reminding us that Hart has taken far fewer penalties this season for a player of his size. Welcome back, Mr. Hart, we've missed you.

In some respects, the heartbreak was telegraphed at the end of the 2nd period. With 35 seconds remaining, Rankin was involved in a goal mouth scramble that resulted in Tyson Spink getting the 2-2 equalizer past Riopel. Goals scored in the last minute of a period just can't happen. The third period was some of the best hockey of the series, as both team battled hard. Both teams killed of crucial penalties, and the Walleye and Jake Paterson managed to keep the K-Wings pressure at bay. That is until 23 seconds left in regulation, when A.J. Jenks chased down puck in the Kalamazoo zone and buried a short-side goal past Riopel for the win. Heartbreak. The kind that leaves you speechless and wanting to throw up.

The series shifts back to Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon, with the K-Wings facing elimination. They've been offensively prolific at home during the series, but need to play defense their road defense game. You simply cannot expect to put up a snowman on the Walleye again.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-21-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Chicoutimi Sagueneens 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 4
QMJHL Semifinals
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 3-4-7, +10, 16 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 9 GP, 8-8-16, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

Saint John moved to 9-0 in the post-season with a 4-1 win over the Sags in Game 1 of their semifinal series. Joseph took a nasty hit to the head early in the game, but rebounded to finish with a goal and first star. All five goals were scored in the second period. Game 2 is Saturday.

Ontario Hockey League

Owen Sound Attack 1 @ Erie Otters 6
Western Conference Finals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-0-0, +3, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 1-6-7, +14, 4 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 8/19 FO
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 9-5-14, +11, 4 PIM
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 2-1-3, +3, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, *First Star*
Playoff Totals: 12 GP, 7-14-21, +10, 10 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Erie drew first blood in the Western Conference Finals, snapping Owen Sound’s four-game win streak with a 6-1 Game 1 win. Raddysh scored both his goals early in the second period as Erie was building a 5-0 lead. Cirelli scored the series-opening goal. Game 2 is Saturday.

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