The ECHL All-Star Game is slated for Wednesday night at 10pm Eastern Time from Fresno, California. The skills competition occurred Tuesday night and Bolt Prospects will post the results up as soon as we get them. This post is just to make a programming note to anyone who wants to watch the game. Lightning goaltending prospect Jonathan Boutin will be one of the starters in the contest. You've got three chances to catch the game:
1.) Nationwide the game will be carried live on the NHL Center Ice package on your Game 7 channel.
2.) Word on the street is that Catch 47 will also be carrying the game live to the local market in Tampa Bay.
3.) OLN will be carrying the game on tape delay Thursday night at 5pm.
Whichever way you tune in, tune in and support one of the Lightning's exciting young prospects.
Think how pathetic the Florida Panthers will be once Roberto Luongo leaves Miami to play for a contender.
The big story from this game is obviously Roberto Luongo's 48 saves as the Lightning thoroughly outplayed Florida throughout the contest outshooting them 50-26. Sean Burke took the loss for the Lightning.
From a prospect standpoint, Ryan Craig scored the critical tying goal with 49 seconds left to play just to salvage a point for Tampa. In close on the doorstep Craig showed incredible finishing ability beating Luongo high over the shoulder to light the lamp for the 5th goal of his young career. Craig played 13:13 with 2 shots on goal and an even rating. Evgeny Artyukhin, who played his 41st game of the season tonight graduating him from prospect status by Bolt Prospects criteria, played a very sparing 4:46 in a game with a very tight score. Paul Ranger led all Lightning prospects in ice time with 19:11 of even hockey. Norm Milley and Jason Jaspers was a healthy scratch.
Congratulations to Evgeny Artyukhin for graduating from prospect status. Game sheet from NHL.com.
Last week the Russian Superleague announced its rosters for this years All-Star game and included in the list of invitees are two Lightning prospects. Russianprospects.com reports that for the Western Conference team, goaltender Vasily Koshechkin will be making his first all-star appearance hailing from Lada Togliatti. And, also for the Western Conference team, a perennial all-star, left wing Anton But.
Koshechkin, 14-11-4 on the season, took over the starting job in Togliatti from import Adam Svoboda and quickly established himself as one of the top netminders in Russia. Even though Lada dumped 3/4 of its payroll at the Karjala break Koshechkin still is second in the Superleague with a 1.51 GAA and 8 shutouts.
But, who has won two championships with the Lokomotiv, is currently 4th in the Superleague in scoring and assists with 37 points and 23 helpers. His 14 goals also ties him for 8th in the league in that category as well.
Chelya from tampabaylightning.ru points out in comments that the game was played this weekend and both But and Koshechkin missed it due to minor injuries. Thanks to chelya.
Karri Ramo made his fourth consecutive start today in a 5-2 dismantling of JYP in SM-liiga play. The young netminder was named the game's 3rd star stopping 28 of 30 shots faced in the contest. Ramo's record improves to 6-5-3 on the season.
One of my biggest personal disappointments of this season for the Lightning's prospects has been the disappearance from the score sheet of Alexander Polushin over the last couple of months after a scintilating beginning to the season. Polushin woke up today though, scoring a third period goal to help key a Cherepovets comeback in a 3-2 victory over Novokuznetsk. The goal was Polushin's 8th of the year and his 12th point in 38 games this season.
Speaking of disappointments, Nikita Alexeev also had a goal in a wild first period that saw Omsk and Dynamo combine for six goals in the opening frame. The game would not be settled until overtime when Dimitri Bykov finally put Omsk away for good 6-5. Lightning prospect Dimitry Kazionov also had an assist for Dynamo in the game.
Finally, the free fall of Lada Togliatti continued as Vasily Koshechkin dropped to 14-11-4 on the year in a 3-2 loss to CSKA.
With Fredrik Norrena still out with a groin pull for Linkopings Andreas Holmqvist stepped up large today to help guide Linkopings to a 5-3 victory over Farjestads. The young defenseman had a second period goal and later added an assist on a third period power play goal in the win. Holmqvist is slowly sneaking up on the half a point a game plateau with 15 points in 36 games this season.
The following are the official statistics for Lightning prospects playing within the Canadian Hockey League as of January 23, 2006. Leading the way are possible future linemates Stan Lascek, whoâ€™s second in the QMJHL in points and first in assists, and Justin Keller, whoâ€™s second in the WHL in points and first in goals.
Stanislav Lascek, RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): 42GP, 30-63*-93, 60PIM, (+28), 12 PPG, 3 SHG
Justin Keller, RW, Kelowna (WHL): 46GP, 37*-26-63, 56PIM, (+7), 14 PPG, 1 SHG
Radek Smolenak, LW, Kingston (OHL): 42GP, 27-26-53, 76PIM, (+6), 8 PPG, 1 SHG
Blair Jones, C, Moose Jaw (WHL): 45GP, 19-28-47, 43PIM, (+7), 10 PPG, 1 SHG
Whatever momentum this team built up in Friday and Saturday's victories, it was quickly halted today.
Gerald Coleman was shelled allowing 8 goals on 32 shots faced. After a great first couple of months to his pro career, Coleman's record is now under .500 and he has an abyssmal .880 save percentage. Honest question: exactly what was served by making a 21 year old goaltender stay in the third period of a snowman shellacking? Does this organization want to ruin this young man's confidence? What is clear at this point is that the Tampa Bay Lightning made a huge mistake not signing a veteran AHLer to tandem with Brian Eklund in Springfield. As a consequence, you have two young netminders in Springfield who are reeling, and the only recourse this club has is to call up one of two equally inexperienced young netminders both of whom are also struggling because of the roster shuffling in Johnstown. I blogged about this before the season and I hope this is a lesson learned: you cannot underestimate the importance of veteran mentorship and patience in developing young goaltenders. The way the Lightning handled the early part of Brian Eklund's career should have been the model for the way they handled Coleman and Boutin. They may pay dearly in the long run for trying to force these young men, especially Coleman, do too much too soon in their careers.
Marek Kvapil scored his 10th goal of the season on the power play. Hopefully he can continue to improve and hit that 20 goal mark by the end of the regular season. And in another positive development: Gerard Dicaire had a power play assist putting him at 2 points in his 4 games back from Johnstown. It cannot be underestimated just how much the Lightning organization would benefit from Dicaire reemerging as a prospect to the level he was at in his first camp. Chris Dingman scored Springfield's second goal with a helper going to Doug O'Brien. Here's another guy I'd like to see continue to ratchet up his game and go for that 30 point plateau.
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Due to an injury to Cody Rudkowsky, Jonathan Boutin has been named the starter for the ECHL All-Star Game for the American Conference. The game will take place January 25th in Fresno, CA.