Albany, NY Regional
Fulfilling a yearly ritual, Maine defeated Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Usually, Maine wins in a close affair but this year the Black Bears cruised easily to a 6-1 win. Defenseman Mike Lundin was scoreless with 1 shot on goal.
Worcester, MA Regional
Boston College defeated rival Boston University to become the first team to advance to the Frozen Four. Goaltender Corey Schneider has yet to relent a goal in the tournament.
Grand Forks, ND Regional
IN PROGRESS: North Dakota has punched its ticket to the Frozen Four, beating Cinderella Holy Cross 5-2. Matt Smaby had a power play goal and a power play assist, his first points of the tournament.
Linopings dropped the opening game of their semifinal round series 3-2 today to Vastra Frolunda. Fredrik Norrena sat on the bench while Jonas Fransson took over starting duties for the club. Shane Willis actually played third line center in the game while Andreas Holmqvist once again performed his customary 1st pairing defensive duties.
Karri Ramo might not get his chance to battle Tuukka Rask again. HPK disposed of Ilves 2-1 in overtime today to claim a 2-0 lead in their SM-liiga quarterfinal series. Miika Wiikman carried the load for HPK stopping 22 of 23 shots faced en route to being named second star of the game.
Metallurg Magnitogorsk got a late goal by Stan Chistov to knock of Lada Togliatti 4-3. Vasily Koshechkin took his third loss of the postseason. Lada now trails Metallurg 2-1 in the series.
Omsk defeated CSKA 3-2 to sweep their quarterfinal series. Omsk has yet to lose a game in these playoffs. Nikita Alexeev did not play for Avangard.
Bolt Prospects moves a player to graduated status if they play in 41 or more games in one season or if they play 82 or more total combined NHL games. Already this season the Lightning have graduated two players: Paul Ranger and Evgeny Artyukhin. Within the next couple of weeks they should be joined by a third. With 36 NHL games under his belt, Ryan Craig is just 5 appearances away from bidding adieu to prospect status and establishment as a full time NHLer. Presuming he plays in every game until then (knock on wood) Ryan Craig will graduate from prospect status on Monday, April 3rd at home against the Florida Panthers.
Craig, like Artyukhin and Ranger before him, will remain on our Midterm Rankings until Bolt Prospects releases our final 2005-2006 rankings at the conclusion of the Memorial Cup tournament once all Lightning prospects' seasons have come to a close.
A bit of disclosure ahead of time: Chad and I worked for Shane Malloy when he was online editor at HockeysFuture before the print version of HockeysFuture failed and he was deposed by the current regime at that website. To his credit, Malloy dreams big which is why he has since landed gigs with FoxSports, NHL.com and segment time on XM Center Ice while the folks at HF are still struggling to get articles posted (let alone quality articles).
Anyway, he wrote FoxSports' list of the Lightning's Top-10 prospects.
1. Stanislav Lascek
2. Vladimir Mihalik
3. Andy Rogers
4. Ryan Craig
5. Radek Smolenak
6. Matt Smaby
7. Paul Ranger
8. Justin Keller
9. Doug O'Brien
10. Gerald Coleman
HM: Mike Egener
First of all, I don't know if Malloy reads our website, but he's definitely heard our cries about the name obsessed hockey media not recognizing the Lightning are building up quality depth by making good draft picks in the late rounds. It was so nice to read a rankings article from a major media outlet that actually had a clue in that regard. True, he misses the boat with the usual boilerplate line bashing the team's goaltending depth, but this article is a 1000% better reflection of the state of the Lightning's system versus the kind of uninformed drivel you'll find coming out of THN and HF these days. A media organization actually doing some research and arriving at the objective conclusion that the Lightning do indeed deserve some credit; what a concept eh?
Worcester, MA Region
Boston College defeated Miami of Ohio 5-0 to advance to the round of eight against rival Boston University. Joe Pearce did not play.
Grand Forks, ND Region
In a major upset, Minnesota fell to Holy Cross 4-3 in overtime. The game was the final of PJ Atherton's college career. The defenseman was scoreless with 2 penalty minutes in the game. He will now be available for the Lightning to sign early if the team chooses. Stay tuned.
Matt Smaby was scoreless as North Dakota easily dispatched Michigan 5-1. North Dakota advances to play Holy Cross in the quarterfinal round.
TOMORROW: In the Albany, NY region, Mike Lundin and Maine will take on Harvard at 3pm ET.
Stanislav Lascek had 1 goal and 1 assist as Chicoutimi snuck by Baie-Comeau 5-4 in overtime. Lascek was named third star of the game. Chicoutimi takes a 1-0 series lead.
Marek Bartanus scored his first career OHL playoff goal to help Owen Sound topple Kitchener 3-2. Owen Sound takes a 1-0 series lead.
Moose Jaw defeated Brandon 5-1. With a goal and an assist, Blair Jones was named third star of the game.
With 46 seconds remaining in the third period, Justin Keller received a secondary assist on Lauris Darzins' tying goal to send game one of their season into overtime. Unfortunately, Kootenay scored 27 seconds into the second overtime to defeat Kelowna 3-2 and take a 1-0 series lead.