Vrbata Going Home, Gratton on Waivers

According to TSN.ca, Lightning winger Radim Vrbata will spend the rest of the season at home in the Czech Republic. The web site reports the Lightning waived him today (Monday). Vrbata signed a 3 year/$9 million contract in the offseason after scoring 27 goals for Phoenix last season. He has 3 goals so far this year.

Vrbata was signed to help bring along prospect Steven Stamkos on the Lightning's second line, but a Malone-Stamkos-Vrbata line never took off. Vrbata has been scratched recently, both due to health and underachieving performance reasons. He told TSN he is going home to get his game back together.

In other news, another free agent may be leaving as center Chris Gratton, who has been out injured, was waived today. Gratton signed a 1 year/$1 million contract in the summer.

The emergence of Paul Szczechura and Jussi Jokinen at center, as well as the expected return of Jeff Halpern are seemingly forcing Gratton - the team's best faceoff center - off the roster.

Note: Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has more on this story. To read his report, see his Bolts Report RSS feed on the bottom right of this page. Damian Cristoder's blog RSS below reports Halpern will likely start his year in Norfolk on a conditioning assignment.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 12/7

QMJHL
Rimouski Oceanic 1 @ Moncton Wildcates 5
W/C Luca Cunti, RIM: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 29 GP, 7-15-22, -1, 16 PIM
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 7-15-22, +14, 18 PIM

Barberio (pictured) is tied for 10th in the league in scoring among defensemen. Benoit Gervais (undrafted) of Rouyn-Noranda leads with 34 points in 31 games. A free agent, Gervais had just 20 points in 64 games between PEI and Rimouski last year before exploding this year. He has good size at 6’2” 200 pounds.

OHL
Mississauga Ice Dogs 4 @ Brampton Battalion 5 (OT)
W Kyle DeCoste, BRA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 28 GP, 5-5-10, -8, 29 PIM

Cody Hodgson (Vancouver) scored his 20th of the season in overtime to give Brampton the win. Hodgson has 42 points in 23 games since re-joining Brampton from the Canucks. Windsor's Taylor Hall (2010) leads the league with 54 points in 30 games. John Tavares (2009) leads in goals with 25.

WHL
Chilliwack Bruins 2 @ Vancouver Giants 3
C James Wright, VAN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 29 GP, 12-14-26, +17, 14 PIM

AHL Game Day 12/7: Admirals at Bears

Frustrating to see the offense shut down when the defense is improving.

NOR-0
HER-3

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 29 shots in the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
HER Bourque, (7) , 15:37
HER Pinizzotto, (1) (Wilson, Amadio), 19:44

Third Period
HER Mink, (12) (McNeill, Amadio), 19:58 (EN)

Box score from TheAHL.com.

N.A. Juniors Game Night 12/6: Crazy Night in the CHL

Goaltenders combine for two goals in the Q ... and Mitch Fadden causes a downpour of stuffed animals in Tri-City.

NCAA Game Night: 12/6

North Dakota Fighting Sioux 4 @ Harvard Crimson 3
C/W Alexander Killorn, HAR: 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM (high sticking), 4 SOG
Season totals: 12 GP, 3-6-9, -2, 24 PIM

Killorn scored on a five-on-three power play to open the game’s scoring. He was checked from behind later in the game resulting in the ejection of Chris VandeVelde (Edmonton). Killorn’s goal was his third, which is second on the Crimson. Just a freshman, Killorn leads the team in points by two over sophomore Michael Biega (undrafted). Biega and his brother, Crimson junior Alex (Buffalo) attended Salisbury prep with Lightning prospect Kevin Quick. Killorn is also second on the team in penalty minutes, just two behind junior defenseman Chad Morin (undrafted).

NHL Game Night 12/6: Sabres at Lightning

The Lightning continue to be the antithesis of clutch.

BUF-4
TB-3

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 27 shots in the loss.

First Period
10:02 BUF Stafford (4), (Gaustad)
13:05 TB St. Louis (7), (Lecavalier, Krajicek)

Second Period
09:46 BUF Vanek (19), (Roy, Stafford)
10:21 TB Ranger (2), (Lecavalier, Prospal)
14:41 BUF Hecht (3), (Mair, Lydman)
15:20 TB Prospal (6), (Malik, St. Louis)

Third Period
10:03 BUF Roy (7), (Numminen, Stafford)

Vets played better. The effort was there. The results weren't.

Steve Downie was -1 with 4 hits in 9:24, and lost a fight to Adam Mair.

Matt Smaby had 1 hit in 8:32, and was caught in no man's land on Buffalo's second goal. Tonight was the kind of night that gets you reassigned to the minors, in my opinion.

Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 15:21. He was also 71% on draws, and was the best among the recent callups tonight.

Steven Stamkos had 4 shots and was 67% on draws in 19:28. The Lightning look like they're starting to work the puck more to him on the power play, and the kid has a great shot. Frustratingly, it's still not finding twine yet.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night 12/6: Admirals at Sound Tigers

Who would've predicted this after last night's debacle?

NOR-6
BRI-3

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 32 shots in the win.

First Period
NOR Potulny, (3) (Bochenski, Konopka), 3:31 (PP)
NOR Kearns, (5) (Mihalik, Heward), 7:47
NOR Kearns, (6) (Simek, Ward), 16:54

Second Period
BRI Smith, (10) (MacDonald, McLean), 0:23 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (10) (Konopka, Potulny), 10:37 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (11) (Potulny, Konopka), 11:43 (PP)

Third Period
NOR Segal, (9) (Ward), 9:00 (SH)
BRI Smith, (11) (Walter, Iggulden), 13:06 (PP)
BRI Iggulden, (14) (Smith, McLean), 17:51 (PP)

Brandon Bochesnki, Bracken Kearns, and Grant Potulny were the game's three stars.

Norfolk was an outstanding 3-for-4 on the power play.

Ty Wishart got the night off and Kevin Quick made his AHL season debut in the game.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 12/5

Fadden (pictured) and Tyrell exhibit their Christmas spirit by assisting others - a combined seven times. Courtnall continues to punch people.

NCAA Game Night: 12/5

North Dakota Fighting Sioux 10 @ Harvard Crimson 1
C/W Alexander Killorn, HAR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 8 SOG
Season totals: 11 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 22 PIM

Yikes. Both clubs are under .500 for the year. Matt Smaby’s alma mater improved to 6-8-1 with the blowout win. Harvard is a pedestrian 4-5-2. Both received votes for the latest USCHO poll, though they are out of the top-25.

USA U-18 Team 4 @ No.12 Vermont Catamounts 6 (Exhibition)
C/W Matt Marshall , UVM: 0-0-0, -1, 1 SOG
Season totals: 10 GP, 1-1-2, +1, 4 PIM

UConn Huskies 1 @ UMass Minutemen 4
D John Wessbecker , UMass: 0-0-0, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 11 GP, 0-2-2, +11, 10 PIM

AHL Game Night 12/5: Admirals at River Rats

Top to bottom awful.

NOR-1
ALB-8

Karri Ramo allowed 7 goals on 40 shots for the loss before being pulled for Mike McKenna who allowed 1 goal on 3 shots. Ramo looked like he responded well the last game out but wilted under a barrage of River Rats shots in the third period tonight.

First Period
ALB Dwyer, (4) (Blanchard, Rodney), 4:30
ALB Samson, (6) (Petruzalek, Rodney), 13:14
ALB Chaput, (4) (Carson, Dwyer), 13:32 (PP)

Second Period
ALB Ryan, (4) (Petruzalek, Angelidis), 9:21
NOR Curadeau, (2) (Jones), 12:48 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Angelidis, (6) (Blanchard, Dwyer), 4:13
ALB Helminen, (5) (Samson, Jensen), 5:06
ALB Angelidis, (7) (Dwyer), 11:17
ALB Dodge, (3) (Bordeleau, Flood), 11:56

They need to find a veteran defenseman and get him into Norfolk promptly. Ramo's partially to blame for the Admirals poor goals against this season, but it's also a product of rookies playing the inexperienced young pros on defense (AKA the dumb leading the blind). Tonight's Ty Wishart/Andy Rogers pairing was a combined -7, and bear in mind they were on the ice for Matieu Curadeau's goal, so they were actually worse than that number defensively.

Darren Rumble has a real challenge now trying to keep his club focused as the season is starting to come unravelled between trades, callups, bad defense, and bad goaltending. It's tough to keep the fighting spirit under bad conditions.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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