Marchessault Looks to Prove Himself With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Jonathan Marchessault still believes he has to prove himself every day.

The Crunch forward already has a contract for next season, is a two-time American Hockey League All-Star, and after coming to the Tampa Bay organization in a deadline trade, leads Syracuse with 48 points. The Crunch may be a longshot to make the playoffs, but Marchessault has no plans to mail in the rest of the season.

“As a professional, you always have to be ready for any game,” the 23-year-old said. “Every game is important, so you’ve always got to be able to show what you have and what you've got.”

AHL Game Night: 4-2-14 Crunch at Americans

Points streak goes up in flames in Rochester.

SYR-2
RCH-5

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before giving way to Cedrick Desjardins, who allowed 1 on 11 shots the rest of the way. In Gudlevskis' defense, Syracuse's defense was not sharp tonight.

First Period
RCH Irwin, (4) (Varone, Petrecki), 2:48
RCH Catenacci, (8) (Porter, Armia), 15:43
RCH Irwin, (5) , 17:02

Second Period
RCH Catenacci, (9) (Armia, Makarov), 3:17
SYR Paquette, (19) (Nesterov, Connolly), 19:53 (PP)

Third Period
RCH Roy, (7) (Grigorenko, Sundher), 3:32
SYR Korobov, (3) (Paradis), 16:36

Fortunately, Syracuse is about to enter ATO season with Joel Vermin and Adam Erne already in the fold (although they have yet to make their debuts) and Henri Ikonen likely on the way. Vermin and Ikonen, in particular, will be counted on to help turn things around for the Crunch next season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Vermin Begins Adjustment to North American Game


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The transition to the North American style of hockey has begun for Joel Vermin.

After a nine-hour trip from Switzerland on Sunday, the forward joined the Syracuse Crunch for practice this week. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s seventh-round selection in the 2013 draft will spend the next few weeks getting acclimated to the American Hockey League.

“Everything is new for me -- small ice rink, new team -- but I’m getting used to it,” said Vermin, who is expected to make his Crunch debut this weekend. “I’m feeling pretty good.”

Vermin signed a three-year deal with Tampa Bay in September, but was assigned to Bern of the Swiss A-League instead of coming over to North America. He will likely play in the Lightning organization in America next season.

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.

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