Team Canada Notes:
Canada called in Evander Kane, a BP favorite and teammate of Lightning prospect James Wright in Vancouver, to presumably take the spot of the injured Dana Tyrell. Tyrell suffered a "significant" knee injury Friday night in an exhibition game vs. Sweden and his tournament officially over.
Also, Canada coach Pat Quinn said the goaltenders' peformance Friday night did not sway him one way or another on a starter. Dustin Tokarski (0 GAA Friday) and Chet Pickard (2 GAA Friday) will go into today's game neck and neck.
Prince George Spruce Kings 1 @ Victoria Grizzlies 2
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-1-1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 38 GP, 12-31-43, 62 PIM
Courtnall goes into the Christmas break with a clear future (Boston University in the fall) and the Grizzlies scoring lead. He is 13th in league scoring. Powellâ€™s Darcy Oakes, 31-38-69 in 39 games, is 19 points ahead of anyone else in the league. The 6-0, 175-pound Oakes is a 20 year old winger from Ontario.
Des Moines @ Fargo Force - POSTPONED
Inclement weather in the upper-midwest forced the postponement of all USHL games.
The QMJHL, OHL, WHL are all off until December 27 for Christmas.
Karri getting it cooking?
Karri Ramo allowed 2 goals on 32 shots before stopping all 4 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
NOR Smolenak, (12) (Segal, Jones), 14:35 (PP)
PHI Ross, (13) (Guenin, Giroux), 12:48
NOR Ward, (2) (Downie, Jones), 17:26 (PP)
PHI Giroux, (17) (Ross), 14:17
NOR- Bochenski, Gratton
Brandon Bochenski and Ramo were the game's first and third stars.
Good road win, although the team went into a bit of a shell in the third period getting outshot 15-5. Ramo finally let in the 13th or 14th one he faced in the period, and they went to overtime. Still, the Ads played a great 40 minutes, got a couple of power play goals, and then exorcized some demons in the shootout. Defense in playing better. Goaltending is playing better. And, you've got a dangerous group of forwards that is basically three lines deep. They're still 4 games under .500, and about 7 points behind Binghamton and Wilkes/Barre with both teams holding games in hand on Norfolk, but the Admirals have a slew of home games coming up in January. So, for Norfolk, I think the push is to get back to .500 and by then, hopefully, be within striking distance of 4th place and have something to play for down the stretch.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Man, it's humbling to lose to a terrible team like the Thrashers.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 30 shots for the loss.
00:18 ATL Kozlov (15), (unassisted)
03:54 TB St. Louis (11), (Malone, Recchi)(PP)
08:15 TB Hall (3), (Jokinen, Craig)
15:13 ATL Perrin (3), (Valabik, Williams)
18:23 ATLP White (10), (Little, Kovalchuk)(PP)
04:06 ATL Crabb (2), (Boulton, Slater)
17:28 TB St. Louis (12), (Lecavalier, Stamkos)(PP)
This was the first game where Szczechura was kind of a non-factor. He had a real opportunity to send Ryan Craig in on a breakaway when a Thrashers defenseman overplayed him on a 2-on-1. Other than that? Very little.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:54.
Steven Stamkos had an assist and 1 hit and was 67% on draws in 13:22.
According to a Boston University fan blog, Justin Courtnall of the BCHL's Victoria Grizzlies has pledged his services to NCAA hockey power Boston University. The Terriers are currently ranked No.3 in the latest USCHO men's Division I hockey poll.
Courtnall currently leads the Grizzlies in scoring with 12 goals, 30 assists and 42 points in 37 games.
He joins defenseman Luke Witkowski (Fargo, USHL - Western Michigan Univ.) as North American junior prospects of the Lightning with verbal commitments to NCAA programs.
A verbal commitment is not binding. Commitments can be made official when a player has signed his letter of intent.
The newspaper said Tyrell is definitely out of Canada's second exhibition game scheduled for Sunday.
Sources have told The Citizen Tyrell has a knee injury and his participation in the tournament is in serious question -- national junior team officials have not confirmed the reports. Team Canada's first WJC game is Boxing Day against the Czech Republic.
A year ago, Tyrell suffered a knee strain that kept him from being at his best for the national junior team's final selection camp, and he was released, reported The Citizen.
I'll let the Canadian Press intro this:
> The biggest statement in the battle between John Tavares and Victor Hedman was made by Dana Tyrell.
While the rock-solid forward won't supplant either of those players as the top pick in next year's draft - Tyrell signed a three-year contract with Tampa Bay last week - he made the biggest impact on Friday night.
Fun game to watch if you're an Ads fan.
Mike McKenna stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
NOR Smolenak, (10) (Konopka, Jones), 13:50 (PP)
NOR Wishart, (1) , 16:54
NOR Smolenak, (11) (Gratton, Lawrence), 2:44
NOR Downie, (3) , 3:26
NOR Mihalik, (2) (Downie, Gratton), 8:56 (PP)
I thought the Admirals best two players were probably Steve Downie and Chris Gratton in the game. Gratton looks like a man among boys at this level. Smolenak was in the right place at the right time for a power play goal after a puck bounced off an Albany defender and then on a nice setup by Gratton with Smolenak crossing the top of the crease. I didn't see Gratton out the second half of the third period. Hopefully that was to let the old man kick back and relax as opposed to an injury.
Downie's goal came after he pickpocketed a River Rats defender and then blistered a shot off the wing high glove side. If I have a criticism of Downie's game, it's that he doesn't shoot enough. That said, he's too good for the AHL level. He needs to be in the NHL soon.
Wishart got his first pro goal on a little harmless looking snap shot that skimmed off an Albany defender on the way in and found the back of the net. Not the most artistic goal, but he'll take it. Vladimir Mihalik found a rebound in the high slot and pounded a slap shot five hole on Justin Peters for his tally. Soft goal by Peters, in my opinion. In both defensemen's cases, beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure they're glad just to light the lamp.
Kevin Quick is starting to get back on schedule developmentally. He still makes mistakes (darned near cost McKenna his shutout on one shift in the third) but he's starting to look like a real AHLer, and when he gets it cranked up on the rush you can squint and see a bit of the puck carrying d-man the Lightning organization always thought he could become.
Jay Rosehill is becoming a Grade A badass. I remember when he was a lost little lamb playing for Johnstown in the Coast. He was a manimal dropping the gloves tonight. He beat Mike Angelidis like Angelidis owed him money tonight.
Don't read too much into this game, mind you. Albany is a thin team that was playing without one of their best players and all of a sudden the Admirals are laiden with NHLers and prospects who were recently up and proved their close to being NHLers. This was not a fair fight. Tomorrow night against Philly will be a truer test on just how far this configuration of the Ads can go. Still too many neutral zone turnovers by the forwards and the young d wasn't really tested under fire much considering how non-existent Albany's forecheck was tonight.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's the tale of two Finns this holiday season, with one Finnish Bolt knowing where he'll spend Christmas, while another Finnish player is unsure of where his holiday celebrations will take place.
Tampa Bay Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced they have reassigned Bolt prospect goaltender Karri Ramo to the Norfolk Admirals today. The Asikkala, Finland native was on emergency recall to Tampa, backing up Mike Smith for last night's game against the Colorado Avalanche, due to a minor injury to Lightning netminder Olaf Kolzig. Ramo has appeared in one game this season for the Lightning, stopping 15 of 17 shots in relief on November 23 against New Jersey. Ramo has also appeared in 22 games for the Admirals this season posting a 6-11-4 record with a 3.71 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage. He ranks among the top five goaltenders in the American Hockey League in games played, minutes and shots faced.
The St. Petersburg Times is also reporting that the Lightning placed forward Jussi Jokinen on waivers at noon today. The Kalajoki, Finland native was the subject of numerous trade rumors prior to training camp, but played well for the Bolts in the early season with his versatile two-way play at both center and wing. However, Jokinen has been scoreless in his last 15 games and the return of Jeff Halpern from a knee injury suffered last spring coupled with the emerging play of prospect center Paul Szczechura has pushed Jokinen to the fringes of the lineup. Jokinen's future for the holidays will be known by noon on Saturday.
Rimouski Oceanic 2 @ Montreal Juniors 4
W/C Luca Cunti, RIM: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 8-15-23, -2, 20 PIM
Lewiston MAINEiacs 1 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3
D Michael Ward, LEW: 0-1-1, E, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 4-13-17, E, 48 PIM
Who had it in their pool that Ward would be just six points behind Cunti near the half-way point?
Tomorrow's headline tonight: Lightning Hosed by Idiot Referees.
Mike Smith stopped 32 of 33 shots and 2 of 2 shooters in the shootout session, only to have the referee make a bogus call to award the Avs a shootout goal they didn't deserve to saddle him with the shootout loss.
03:46 COL Stastny (9), (Smyth, Hejduk)
07:35 TB Halpern (1), (Malik, Meszaros)
COL- The Referees
Mike Smith made an absolutely amazing athletic play after missing on the poke check and then going Gumby to his blocker on Milan Hedjuk's shootout bid, and dropped his stick in the process. Now, that is the kind of athletic play the NHL wants to see from its netminders in the shootout after a great goaltender duel all game long between Smith and Raycroft. And then these referees decide that they're going to award Hedjuk a goal based on Smith "throwing his stick?" It's a joke. I thought Rick Tocchet was going to beat the ref to death. He should've. Of all the ways I've seen to lose a game, that's a new one. It surpasses the baloney Chara eye-level bat-in against Boston a couple of years back. It's the new gold standard for poor officiating costing the Lightning a game.
Oh, and Jussi Jokinen is useless. Please, for the love of all that's holy, let the fat trimming include #36.
Paul Szczechura was +1 in 13:12 with 2 shots and 2 hits. And he was dynamite as usual.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot, and was 33% on draws in 9:15, and he had one terrible shift in the third period with two turnovers and never saw the ice again in the game.